The grand list is crumbling, taxes are high and the city’s reserves aren’t where they should be. Yet all the Derby Democrats do is fight with each other.
Meanwhile, no one’s fighting for Derby.
That was the theme of Rich Dziekan’s speech Wednesday in front of about 30 supporters at the Hotchkiss Hose meeting room on David Humphreys Road where members of the Derby Republican Town Committee officially nominated the retired Hamden police officer for mayor.
“Tonight we begin the fight, the battle for the future of Derby,” Dziekan said. “We will stand for low taxes, responsible spending, and business-friendly policies that will bring real commercial development back to our city.”
Click the play button above to watch Dziekan’s speech.
This is the second mayoral run for Dziekan, a former Alderman and a former member of the city’s tax board.
He lost to incumbent Mayor Anita Dugatto in 2015 by 112 votes.
He thinks he could easily make up the difference in the rematch, but whether he’ll get a chance to face Dugatto again remains to be seen.
The Derby Democratic Town Committee didn’t endorse Dugatto for a third term Tuesday. Instead, 21 of the 36 members threw their support behind Carmen DiCenso, the president of the Board of Aldermen.
Either way, Dziekan says he has the vision and experience necessary to “bring professionalism back to City Hall.”
After losing to Dugatto in 2015, Dziekan took a job in Ansonia City Hall as a constituent liason for Mayor David Cassetti’s administration.
He didn’t necessarily need the paycheck. Dziekan watched Republicans there keep taxes in check, snare grants and attract investment downtown.
Now Dziekan wants to bring that success to Derby.
The GOP is outnumbered in Derby compared to registered Democrats, so convincing independent voters to support him will be important.
John Marini, currently the City of Ansonia’s corporation counsel, encountered a similar situation when he campaigned with Cassetti in 2013.
The Ansonia GOP swept longtime Democrats out of power that year, even though they were heavily outnumbered.
Marini said party affiliation doesn’t matter in the Valley — getting results does.
“He’s been to Ansonia, and he sees what works. Low taxes, fiscal policies that grow the economy, and a commitment, above all, to results over politics,” Marini said. “You don’t put the priority on doing things to make the politicians happy and to make the power brokers of the town happy. It’s about the everyday resident and bringing businesses in so your grand list goes up.”
Marini was part of an Ansonia government contingent at Dziekan’s nomination.
Andrew Baklik is Dziekan’s campaign manager.
He gave one of two nominating speeches Wednesday on Dziekan’s behalf. This is Baklik’s first foray into local politics.
“A lot of people asked me why I would want to get involved in the mess that is Derby politics. The short answer is that I’m ashamed at what my hometown has become. Rather than sit on the sidelines and complain about it, I’ve decided to affect change,” he said.
He said Dziekan should be mayor because he’s a man of action, and a man who loves Derby.
“We’re both men of action and that is exactly what Derby needs more than ever,” Baklik said.
Click the play button below to listen to Baklik’s comments.
Sam Pollastro, the chairman of the Derby Republican Town Committee, said the city’s tax board makes a bipartisan effort every year to not raise taxes, but the Democrats in the mayor’s office and the Board of Aldermen don’t do anything to bring in real economic development.
“The grand list is pathetic, revenue is down and the only thing that seems to be going up is our taxes,” he said.
Click the play button below to listen to Pollastro’s remarks.
The Republicans also nominated an under-ticket for this November’s municipal election.
The biggest surprise there is that the GOP nominated former Mayor Anthony Staffieri to run for City Treasurer. He’ll be challenging long-time incumbent Keith McLiverty, who is running on the Democratic line.
Staffieri currently represents the Third Ward on the Derby Board of Aldermen.
He is the full list of people nominated:
Board of Education
First Ward Aldermen
Second Ward Aldermen
Third Ward Aldermen
Board of Apportionment and Taxation