Shelton mayor's race: Gioiello stresses change and openness

Democrat David Gioiello is convinced the people of Shelton want change at City Hall.

The mayoral candidate thinks residents have grown tired of longtime Republican incumbent Mark Lauretti’s governing style.

“I see the way the city is being run,” Gioiello said. “It just infuriates me that the mayor thinks this is medieval Europe and Shelton is a city-state and he’s the prince.”

If elected, Gioiello said, he will keep taxes low, work to restore public trust in city government, run his administration in an open and transparent manner, and respectfully listen to people’s suggestions and criticism.

Gioiello said while Shelton may be known for having low taxes, part of that is due to deferring routine maintenance on important infrastructure.

He said it makes more economic sense to properly maintain city vehicles and buildings rather than have to replace them.

“You plan and anticipate problems so you’re not surprised,” Gioiello said.

This also is true for the roads, he said, so he wants the city engineer to rate all road conditions and then create a schedule to pave and maintain them. “Let’s have a list so over the course of 15 years, all the roads are paved,” he said.

Second try for city's top spot

Gioiello, 66, previously challenged Lauretti in 2007. He said he decided to run again this year because it’s the right time to step back from his business and do something different.

He was hoping to play a lot more golf, he said, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to change how Shelton is being run.

If elected, Gioiello said, he will meet regularly with the public. “Your local government needs to be as accessible as possible,” he said.

He would hold town meetings at such venues as the public libraries. “Open communication builds trust and confidence,” Gioiello said. “It allows people to vent.”

He’s disappointed Mayor Mark Lauretti would not participate in debates or joint forums with him during the campaign, said Gioiello, who serves as Shelton Democratic Town Committee chairman.

Schools: Expand AP, offer full-day K

Gioiello wants to enhance the school system by expanding Advanced Placement classes in high school and offering foreign language opportunities in the upper elementary and intermediate grades.

“The earlier you start a foreign language the easier it is to learn,” he said. “We live in a global society.”

Gioiello supports having the city schools offer full-day kindergarten. “This should have been done a long time ago,” he said.

The Board of Education should include the cost of full-day K in its next proposed budget, he said, and perhaps growth in the tax base will generate enough money to fund it.

He said the school system already is operating “at the bare bones.”

Downtown traffic and Bridgeport Avenue retail

Gioiello said solving downtown traffic problems is a priority, with more people moving into the city center.

He said he can work with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — a fellow Democrat that he knows, Gioiello points out — and state transportation officials to come up with “outside the box” ideas, such as offering express buses from downtown to train stations in Stratford or Bridgeport.

He is concerned about some of the retail, apartment and condo development taking place on Bridgeport Avenue.

“I want high-density office space, as originally planned, and not strip shopping centers and not residential,” he said. “Some day, these could have us reach the capacity of our WPCA [sewage treatment] plant.”

Questions the incumbent's ethics

Gioiello has criticized Lauretti’s ethics, questioning the River Road land deal in which Lauretti made a large profit. Gioiello said Lauretti crossed an ethical line by buying and selling the property because the mayor also serves as the city’s economic development director.

“You can do something that’s legal but it’s not ethical,” he said.

He said he would “not enter into any transaction which may be perceived as improper or as a conflict of interest with my position as mayor.” Gioiello would not accept gifts of any kind as mayor, such as country club memberships, he said.

During his business career, he said, he has built a reputation for “integrity and ethics.”

Gioiello and his wife, Denese Deeds, have two children. They own a consulting company that specializes in helping businesses comply with government health and safety regulations.

In the past, he did related work while employed at General Electric and as a contractor for NASA.