August 1, 2014

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Bryan Jensen to be first new Avon mayor in 20 years

Avon Mayor James Smith stands next to his successor, Bryan Jensen, along with Jensen's father, Neils, and brother Bruce on Tuesday. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Avon Mayor James Smith stands next to his successor, Bryan Jensen, along with Jensen’s father, Neils, and brother Bruce on Tuesday. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

AVON — Bryan Jensen didn’t have a flashy celebration planned for the election Tuesday night.

In fact, he was traveling around the city picking up election signs when he heard the news that he had been elected the next mayor.

When he heard the news that he received 2,624 votes, or 44 percent, he hurried back to his home to celebrate with family.

“I thought, ‘we’ll celebrate,’ but the reality I face tomorrow is to lead the city that I love,” he said.

Jensen will be the first new leader in the city since Mayor Jim Smith took office 20 years ago.

Smith, who announced that he would step down at the end of this year, ran unopposed in the last two elections, and the last time that he faced an opponent, he came away with 73 percent of the vote.

Jensen defeated Councilman Kevin Ward, who received 1,527 votes; Council President Dan Zegarac, who received 934; and Parma’s Assistant Law Director Rich Summers, who received 889 votes, according to unofficial voting results.

Bryan Jensen celebrates his victory with his family and friends.

Bryan Jensen celebrates his victory with his family and friends.

The mayor’s race likely triggered a greater voter turnout in Avon, with 41.8 percent of registered voters going to the polls as opposed to 28.7 percent countywide.

Jensen said he was surprised he received such a large majority but said he believed he had done well in candidate debates. He added that the endorsement from Smith and The Chronicle-Telegram probably helped.

Smith, who stopped by Jensen’s house to congratulate him Tuesday night, said he was relieved that Jensen won.

“He’s the best candidate. I think people recognize that,” he said. “I heard he did extremely well in debates, plus he’s been the longest councilman.”

Jensen, 53, has served on City Council for four terms, following in his father Neil’s footsteps. Jensen’s father, a 10-year councilman, pushed Jensen into running for Council and encouraged him when he announced his candidacy for mayor.

Bryan Jensen will retire from the family’s business at PinehavenGardenCenter and Greenhouses, leaving the position to his nephew when he takes over for Smith. Jensen said he is sad to leave the family business behind but excited to start a new chapter in his life.

“I’m not leaving because I don’t love what I do, but I’m leaving because I believe God has a plan for me to do good things for the city,” he said.

Jensen, who has been a registered independent since 1992, was born in Avon. He lived in the city for most of his life and has a 22-year-old son Brett, a 25-year-old daughter, Brittney, and a grandchild who all live in the city.

Smith said it was Jensen’s close ties to the community and community involvement that led to his decision to endorse Jensen on Oct. 10.

“If he messes up, people know him … and he can’t leave, and you fight a little bit harder. That’s how I am,” he said.

Jensen said he plans to work on completing the city’s project to build a community pool during his first year in office. He said he would also like to work on traffic issues and road repairs and on stormwater management.

“I’m just going to earn their vote every day,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.