Mayor Mark Lauretti has overseen the city’s emergence as a corporate hub known for its low taxes, strong neighborhoods and abundant open space. For 22 years, Lauretti has been the man in charge who gets the credit when things go right and the criticism when things go wrong.
In Shelton, things have mostly gone right. It is for this reason that we endorse Lauretti, a Republican, in his bid for a 12th term on Nov. 5.
Under Lauretti’s leadership, the city appears to have found the right balance between commercial development, residential development and open space preservation.
“Everyone knows my philosophy,” he said of his often laissez-faire approach, which generally comes across as pro-business.
While people in Shelton sometimes complain about poor snowplowing, roads in need of repair, blight that goes unchecked, and government buildings not up to snuff, no one complains about their taxes. That’s because they are reasonable and, by southwestern Connecticut standards, extremely low.
We have seen Lauretti learn from things that haven’t gone as well as they should. For instance, after the city failed to adequately communicate with residents during the massive snowstorm in February 2013, he backed hiring an outside contractor to handle emergency communications with the public.
Next, we encourage Lauretti to get behind implementation of full-day kindergarten. A full-day program isn’t about providing extended day care, it’s about preparing youngsters to do better in school, careers and life. Shelton should not be the only town in Fairfield County that fails to offer such a program.
Opponent has raised good points
Democratic challenger David Gioiello is to be congratulated for entering the fray for the second time. He has raised some good points during his campaign.
Gioiello thinks the mayor is overly hostile to criticism. He wants the city to set up a dedicated reserve fund to separate funds intended for operating costs and the rainy-day fund.
We, too, think the mayor should be less dismissive of political opponents and instead try to work with them. And establishing a separate reserve fund makes fiscal sense and would be looked upon favorably by credit-rating agencies.
Diverse views needed by aldermen
For aldermen, we encourage residents to consider the importance of having some alternative voices on the city’s Republican-dominated legislative body. One-party rule for a long period of time usually leads to problems.
Voters in the First Ward should re-elect Democrat Jack Finn, the dean of the Board of Aldermen. Voters in other districts should also look carefully at Democratic candidates and give them consideration.
We encourage Republican aldermen to challenge the status quo more often. Not for the sake of stirring things up, but because there are times tough questions need to be asked.
But the bottom line is that Shelton remains a city on the right trajectory. As the top elected official for more than two decades, Lauretti deserves much of the credit for that and deserves re-election.