"I see the needs in the community, and I see the way the citizens in this community are taken for granted," he said.
O'Connell's connection with Colette's, which has dealings with the city, is the only concern Councilman Devin Dwyer said he has with O'Connell.
Dwyer, who is endorsing O'Connell, Barbara Delgleize and Matthew Harper, said he is talented and would do well as a council member, but would have to watch out for conflicts of interest.
"He will have to watch his Ps and Qs," Dwyer said.
The candidate said he will do his best to keep politics separate from his nonprofit work. He called himself a "compassionate conservative."
If he takes office, O'Connell said, he wants to stop fee increases, look at city pensions and outsource when possible. He supports the senior center and the council's decision to appeal the lawsuit against it, and is in favor of the Poseidon Seawater Desalination Plant.
Infrastructure is also an issue that needs to be taken care of immediately, he said.
"If we don't do it now, it's going to be a lot more expensive," he said.
Public safety is also important for O'Connell. As a former officer, he said he can understand the unique challenges the police face better than the average person.
The Police Department needs more manpower in downtown, he said, but he wouldn't consider limiting the number of liquor licenses. To do that would penalize future businesses for the actions of a few, he said.
"The government needs to stay as much as possible out of it," he said, adding that there are enough laws and they just need to be enforced.
Limiting the licenses would also discourage new businesses, which is the exact opposite of what O'Connell wants to do. He said he wants to create a business-friendly atmosphere, cutting business license and inspection fees and being more aggressive in economic development.
"There is so much the city could do to encourage businesses," he said. "By doing that, we'll create more jobs, more revenue coming in to the city, and in the long term, we'll benefit as a whole city."