Saying Derby Democrats were more interested in fighting with each other than moving the city forward, Republican Richard Dziekan officially announced his candidacy for mayor Wednesday.
“I also don’t need to spend a half a million dollars to “discover” what my priorities are,” Dziekan said, referring to a state grant the city used to fund its “Downtown Now“ planning initiative.
“I stand for lower taxes, aggressive economic development, and a commitment to restoring Derby as the heart of the All-American Valley,” he said.
Dziekan made his announcement in front of the Sterling Opera House on Elizabeth Street.
State Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano, born in Derby, was by his side, along with Valley GOP leaders Anthony Staffieri, Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti, Seymour First Selectman Kurt Miller, and 18 other supporters.
Click play on the video below to listen to the full audio from Dziekan’s speech.
Mayor Anita Dugatto filed paperwork Jan. 31 declaring her intent to seek a third term as mayor, then followed with a press release in mid-February.
But Dugatto faces a challenge from within her own Democratic Party.
Last month, Carmen DiCenso, president of the Board of Aldermen, announced his intent to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Derby Democrats and Derby Republicans will hold separate meetings during the summer to endorse candidates.
Dziekan was Dugatto’s opponent during the last election. He lost to Dugatto by 112 votes.
Dziekan is a retired Hamden police officer, a military veteran, and a life-long Derby resident. He worked most recently as director of constituent services under Cassetti in Ansonia City Hall.
He’s stepping down from the position so Ansonia can save money and he can run for mayor in Derby.
Dziekan hammered city Democrats on finances during his speech, much like Cassetti hammered the incumbents in Ansonia when he first ran for mayor in 2013.
Dziekan said Derby’s grand list — that is, the value of taxable property in the city — has decreased by some $35 million since Dugatto took office.
Dziekan said Derby Democrats have made the matter worse by not securing enough economic development grants. Dugatto didn’t hire an experienced planner/economic development person until March of 2016 — and the job is part-time.
Dziekan said the Democrats have been bogged down fighting each other, “while Derby’s taxpayers wait for someone that will fight for them,” he said.
While the city mayor’s position is a part-time job as dictated by the city charter, Dziekan vowed to work full-time if elected, and promised not to take additional pay.