STRATFORD — Vincent Chase, for decades one of Stratford’s the most respected Republican politicians, has decided that come November, his name will be missing from the ballot box.

“My wife and I had a long conversation over the weekend, and we decided that it would be best if I decided not to run again,” said the lifelong Stratford resident. “So I’m not running for any office this fall.”

Until now, the District 8 councilman was near the top of the list of possible mayoral candidates this fall, particularly since Mayor John Harkins, also a Republican, announced in April that he was leaving politics, too.

“He’ll certainly be missed,” said Town Council Chairwoman Beth Daponte, a Democrat. “He’s always a gentlemen and he always has Stratford’s best interests at heart.”

Chase, 68, has been involved in politics since he was in teenager at Stratford High School. One of his teachers instructed him to write a paper in which he had to interview people from the extreme right and the extreme left.

“So I talked to people from the John Birch Society in Stratford and then I went to Yale to talk to members of the SDS (Students for Democratic Society),” he said. “It really was an eye-opening experience.”

With the Vietnam War raging and no end in sight, Chase, like just about every other young man at the time. was looking for a presidential candidate who would get the U.S. out of the “quagmire,” as it was called back then.

“I was a huge fan of Bobby Kennedy because I thought that he was the guy who could get us out of the Vietnam War,” he said. “But in 1968 he was assassinated.”

With Kennedy gone, the only the choices were Republican Richard Nixon, who promised an end to the war, and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, who was not viewed as an antiwar candidate. President Lyndon Johnson had on March 31, 1968, announced on television that he wouldn’t seek re-election, and Humphrey didn’t want to depart much from Johnson’s war strategy.

“So I decided to go with Nixon — he seemed to be the only choice at the time,” he said. “And not only that, I decided to form a chapter of Young Republicans — we must have 75 kids and we blanketed Stratford with Nixon pamphlets.”

After graduating from the University of Bridgeport he landed a job with John Wiley & Sons, the publishing house. “I was the best job — a great place to work.”

In the early 1980s he moved back to Stratford, marrying Addie Lee Pickus, a popular piano teacher in town, in September, 1983. The couple moved into the home on Whippoorwill Lane that Addie’s dad built in 1948.

He was in the 120th state House seat from 1980 until 1997, becoming a member of transportation committee, among others. He was the deputy minority leader near the end of his House career. At this stage in his life he was also working for Diners Club International.

He then got a job in Washington as the chief Congressional investigator for the National Security Committee; he was assigned to a number of projects including the F-22 “Raptor” tactical fighter.

After 9/11, Chase found himself in Russia checking up on chemical weapons for the NSC.

As for the future, Chase, who with his wife owns the downtown Colonial Square Shopping Center, said that he has a number of projects around the house to tackle. “The work never ends around here,” he said, surveying his yard.

jburgeson@ctpost.com