AVON — Mayor Jim Smith said candidate Bryan Jensen is the best choice for mayor, announcing his endorsement Thursday afternoon.
Smith said Jensen is the best candidate for the job because of his ties to the city, civic involvement and his work as councilman.
“Bryan has been community-involved for many years, not just now at election time when seeking your vote. Don’t be fooled by people who join organizations and get involved six months before (an) election. For Bryan, it has been a way of life,” Smith wrote in his endorsement letter. “He has lived this manner long before he considered the idea of running for any office. He is a hard worker, very well educated, a long time business owner and has the best of intentions for the city.”
The endorsement could be a boost to Jensen’s campaign if he can capture Smith’s supporters. The popular mayor ran unopposed during the last two elections. The last time he faced an opponent, he came away with 73 percent of the vote.
The endorsement was announced just two weeks after Jensen’s opponent, Kevin Ward, received an endorsement from four fellow City Council members who aren’t running for the job.
Ward’s endorsement was questioned by some community members, said Smith, who suspects there may be a push to bring partisan politics to the nonpartisan city.
Smith said Ward, a Republican, may have been backed by the Council members because of his political affiliation, a claim Councilwoman Mary Berges, a Democrat who backed Ward, denies.
“I truly believe that he has the background, experience and skills to manage this city,” she said. “I don’t know if any of the candidates have managed as many people as Kevin Ward.”
Ward said, although he respects Smith, he doesn’t believe the endorsement will hurt his campaign, especially with the backing of City Council.
“We’re not a small city anymore, and we need someone who can operate the city from day one, and I have those proven skills and the proven experience,” he said.
Jensen said he expects Smith’s endorsement to give him a boost, however. He said he didn’t realize Smith would endorse him, but he had hoped for the mayor’s praises.
“It certainly is humbling that he did it. He’s certainly someone that I admire and respect,” he said.
Jensen is president of Pinehaven Garden Center and Greenhouses in Avon, where he has worked for 28 years. Jensen’s father, Neils Jensen, has served on Avon City Council, and Bryan Jensen followed in his father’s footsteps, serving four terms on Council.
Bryan Jensen has also served on the Avon Planning Commission and the city’s Safety and Service Committee.
Ward and Jensen are running against Rich Summers and fellow City Councilman Dan Zegarac.