Democratic challenger Gioiello wants Lauretti to debate him

Democratic mayoral candidate David Gioiello has challenged Republican incumbent Mark Lauretti to a debate before the Nov. 5 election.

“I’ll debate him right here,” Gioiello said during a Monday press conference in front of Shelton City Hall.

Gioiello said he and Lauretti debated once six years ago when he also was the Democratic nominee but lost the election.

Hard to find debate sponsors

Until Monday’s press conference, Gioiello had not formally challenged Lauretti to a debate during this election season.

One reason for that, he said, was because it can be hard to find an organization to sponsor such a forum in Shelton. The city does not have a League of Women Voters (LWV) chapter, he said.

The LWV is a nonpartisan good-government advocacy group that often sponsors political debates.

Gioiello made the debate challenge in response to a question from the press during the event, when he made a series of campaign pledges.

Some of Gioiello’s pledges included to propose a zero increase in property taxes in fiscal year 2014-15 or work for free as mayor that year, to hold city employees responsible for “illegal and unethical conduct,” and to not enter any transactions “which may be perceived as improper or as a conflict of interest with my position as mayor.”

Lauretti: ‘There's nothing to debate’

Lauretti could not be reached Monday for his reaction to Gioiello’s criticism and the debate challenge, but in a previous interview with the Shelton Herald he said such forums really aren’t necessary for people to decide whether to vote for him at not, at this point in his political career.

“There’s really nothing for me to debate,” Lauretti said. “People get my side all the time, and I hope by now people in town understand what they have in Mark Lauretti.”

Lauretti is seeking a 12th term this fall, having been first elected in 1991.

He said during some earlier campaigns, he and the Democratic nominee would debate up to a dozen times. “It was overkill,” Lauretti said.

Getting personal?

During the earlier interview, the mayor also indicated he thinks his opponents' campaign tactics through the years often focus on him personally rather than on the issues.

“When they make it personal all the time, I’m not interested in that,” Lauretti said.

Gioiello made a reference to such comments by Lauretti during the Monday event with the local press.

“The mayor takes everything personally,” Gioiello said. “People have a right to criticize politicians.”