Democratic mayoral candidate David Gioiello made a series of pledges last week that he says makes him the best person to oversee city government.
Standing in front of City Hall on Monday, Gioiello said he would propose a zero increase in property taxes in fiscal year 2014-15 or work for free as mayor for that fiscal year.
He said he would hold city employees responsible for “illegal and unethical conduct,” and would not accept any free memberships or other gifts, including dinners and golf club dues.
“I pledge to not enter into any transactions which may be perceived as improper or as a conflict of interest with my position as mayor,” he said.
In addition, he said he would listen to ideas and critiques without dismissing them as “personal attacks.”
A commitment and promise
Gioiello said while his campaign pledges may not be a legally binding contract, “it’s a commitment and it’s a promise” that he has put in writing for the people of Shelton.
In total, he made 12 specific promises that he printed out and signed on a document.
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View all 12 of David Gioiello’s pledges by clicking here:
Gioiello noted that Newt Gingrich and House Republicans had done something similar during the 1994 campaign, called the Contract with America, leading to the GOP takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Gioiello said while he’d run a fiscally sound administration, he thinks some of Shelton’s annual budget surplus funds should be spent on worthwhile projects.
“It’s time to put some of that money to work,” he said.
Two possible funding priorities are starting a full-day kindergarten program and expanding the Police Department staff, which he said hasn’t grown in size in 20 years.
While full-day K could cost $1 million annually to implement, Gioiello said it’s necessary to properly prepare Shelton youngsters for the “competitive world out there.”
He also said the city is beginning to rely on bonding for too many projects, including “routine maintenance” such as road paving.
Scandals and style
Gioiello made references to City Hall scandals and criticized Lauretti’s management style. “We’ve had a series of scandals and that’s just not acceptable,” Gioiello said.
The scandals have included an FBI investigation into municipal corruption, leading to prison terms for developers and a city employee, and the alleged theft of $914,000 by former city Assistant Finance Director Sharon Scanlon.
He doesn’t understand how a mayor who prides himself on closely monitoring all municipal spending could have missed the alleged theft of almost $1 million.
Gioiello questioned the use of no-bid contracts for large transactions, such as the purchase of the new propane-powered school buses.
He said a good manager hires competent managers and gives them latitude to do their jobs properly.
‘Takes everything personal’
Lauretti doesn’t know how to handle criticism well, according to Gioiello. “The mayor takes everything personally,” he said. “People have a right to criticize politicians.”
He said many Republicans are afraid to challenge Lauretti because he won’t tolerate dissent. Those that do so “get tossed,” he said.
He called Lauretti “arrogant,” claiming he has treated longtime Democratic Alderman Jack Finn poorly at aldermanic meetings by using “a mocking tone.”
Other Democrats offer their views
Gioiello was joined at the press conference by Finn, now seeking his 14th term in the First Ward; Third Ward aldermanic candidate Judson Crawford, and Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T) candidate Joe Knapnik.
Crawford frequently attends, and speaks at, meetings of boards and commissions in Shelton. He is a former longtime member of A&T.
Gioiello said Finn, the lone Democrat on the eight-member Board of Aldermen, needs to be joined by other Democrats to encourage more open debate.
Finn, who was first elected in 1985, said it would nice to have other members of his party on the board because then his motions could get seconded, debated, and voted on.
He is running again because he likes to help people with their problems, Finn said. “I get calls from all over the city,” he said, noting he has been serving his city and country since being in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy.
Questions on fire insurance premiums
The Democrats raised questions about an apparent delay in city payments to Shelton’s four fire companies for their insurance premiums, which provides coverage for volunteers, including when they are going to fire scenes in their personal vehicles.
Finn said the city has provided money to help pay for the insurance coverage since before Lauretti was mayor. While the funding is in the current budget, it has yet to be paid, he said.
Gioiello also released the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, a fellow Democrat. Himes said he admires Gioiello’s “openness and his understanding of the challenges faced by businesses and families in this challenging economy.”