David Gioiello came out swinging after unanimously receiving the Shelton Democratic Town Committee (DTC) endorsement to challenge Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti in the fall election.
Gioiello criticized Lauretti for making money as a land developer, allowing two city employees caught up in legal scandals to resign rather than be fired, and letting city department heads take long vacations.
“Ethics is a huge problem,” Gioiello said in a reference to Lauretti’s leadership at City Hall.
He pledged not to raise taxes in fiscal year 2014-15, and if he can’t keep that promise, he said he would not accept a mayoral salary.
Lauretti expected an opponent
During an earlier interview, Lauretti said he expected the Democrats to put up a challenger. “Oh yeah, absolutely,” Lauretti said. “After 22 years, I’ve always had an opponent. It doesn’t matter to me who runs [against me].”
Gioiello ran unsuccessfully against Lauretti in 2007. He currently is DTC chairman. Lauretti is seeking a 12th term and is expected to be nominated by the Republican Party at the GOP endorsement session next week.
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Click below to read about two other former Democratic mayoral candidates on the party ticket this year:
The DTC met and endorsed candidates Wednesday night at the Shelton Community Center. The endorsement session lasted less than a half hour, including a speech by Gioiello. None of the candidates nominated on the floor were challenged.
(See a list of the entire Democratic ticket at the end of this article.)
Jack Finn will run for alderman again
The lone Democrat on the Board of Aldermen, Jack Finn, will run for re-election. In addition to Finn, the party is putting up five other candidates for the eight aldermanic seats.
Gioiello, 66, owns a consulting company that specializes in safety and health regulations, such as those enforced by OSHA on the federal level.
He and his wife Denese Deeds have been married for 34 years. They have two children, ages 32 and 30. Denese Deeds is running for the Library Board as a Democrat.
Not a token candidate
Gioiello said he is not running just so the Democrats have a name on the ballot for mayor. He said he felt the same way when he challenged Lauretti six years ago, and proved that by knocking on 2,000 homes during the previous campaign.
“I was serious about it then and I’m serious about it now,” he said.
Gioiello said he has the ability to work closely with elected leaders in Hartford and Washington, noting he has relationships with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the four federal legislators — two U.S. senators and two U.S. Congress members, all Democrats — who represent Shelton in Washington.
While Shelton may have three state legislators who are Republicans, he said, “they in the minority. I have the ability to open that door and they do not.”
Attacks Lauretti on real estate deal
Focusing on a recent land deal in which Lauretti made almost $1.6 million, Gioiello claimed Lauretti “has enhanced his personal wealth” while serving as mayor.
“You can’t be both a developer and mayor,” Gioiello said.
He said this is “an obvious conflict,” especially when the mayor also serves as the city’s economic development director.
Keeping their pensions
In references to an FBI investigation of corruption in Shelton, in which two private developers served jail time, Gioiello said a city employee who also went to prison was allowed to resign rather than be fired, enabling him to collect his pension.
He said the same is true of Sharon Scanlon, the city’s former assistant finance director, who is accused of stealing more than $900,000 from the city and is preparing to go to trial on forgery and larceny charges.
Lauretti has never been charged with any crime. Scanlon has not been convicted of any crime.
Gioiello said the City Charter calls for the city to have fiduciary bonds on anyone who handles money, but that was not done with Scanlon — likely, in his view, in an attempt to save money. Now, the city may be out the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” that Scanlon is accused of stealing, he said.
Employee vacations, club membership
As for city employee vacations, Gioiello said he would limit the length of vacation time off to seven consecutive work days, when allowable by union contracts. If a worker can be out for a much longer period on vacation, “we don’t need them,” he said.
Gioiello said he also would issue an executive order forbidding city employees and appointed city board members from accepting anything of value — even a cup of coffee.
If elected, he would not accept a free membership to Brownson Country Club, a benefit he said Lauretti now receives as mayor. He estimated its value at $5,000 to $10,000 a year.
“If you want to play golf, you should pay for it yourself,” Gioiello said.
Budget now ‘inflated’
Gioiello said avoiding a tax hike in 2014-15 will not be a problem because the city budget now is “inflated,” leading to annual surpluses in the $5 million to $10 million range.
He said a “stable” tax rate would boost the city’s business climate.
Gioiello also was critical of the job being done by the city fire marshal, pointing out the fire marshal has faced no discipline despite the hundreds of fire code violations found at Shelton High School by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“And yet nothing happened,” he said.
He also questioned the use of no-bid contracts for municipal business, and asked why the Republican-controlled Board of Aldermen met in executive session to discuss a propane fueling contract for the new school buses.
The Democratic slate
The Democratic ticket will include two other former mayoral candidates. Chris Jones is running for alderman and Robert Lally is seeking the city treasurer’s position.
Following is the Democratic slate (*an asterisk means they are an incumbent):
Board of Aldermen
Jack Finn (First Ward)*
Michelle Bialek (Second Ward)
Ralph Matto (Second Ward)
Judson Crawford (Third Ward)
Chris Jones (Third Ward)
Polly Dyer (Fourth Ward)
Board of Education
Board of Apportionment and Taxation
Planning and Zoning Commission