Dziekan Vows To Refocus On Economic Development In Derby

Retired police officer Rich Dziekan took the oath of office as Derby’s 31st mayor Saturday with an enthusiastic “I do,” and a big thumbs up.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Dziekan, who unseated two-term incumbent Democratic Mayor Anita Dugatto Nov. 6.

Dziekan’s victory came after losing to Dugatto just two years ago.

He commended the outgoing mayor for her efforts in Derby, and thanked Dugatto and her administration “for showing true class in making our transition smooth and painless.”

Click the play button below to hear the majority of Dziekan’s speech, which was made at the Derby High School auditorium in front of about 225 people.

The new mayor vowed to end the bickering that became something of a hallmark at Derby Aldermen meetings.

He especially thanked his wife, Kristen, for her support during the stressful campaign.

“I want to thank my wife, Kristen, for standing beside me not only in victory, but last time in defeat,” Dziekan said.

In terms of policies, Dziekan vowed to make economic development a priority when he reports to Derby City Hall Monday morning.

He mentioned the Route 34 project specifically in his inauguration speech.

He told The Valley Indy that he’ll get the Route 34 widening project moving again. The long-anticipated project to widen Route 34, Derby’s Main Street, from the Derby-Shelton bridge to Home Depot, has been in the planning stages for years.

It hit somewhat of a snag last year after the city requested the plan be tweaked, causing it to go back to bureaucrats for review. Dziekan said downtown Derby can’t wait any longer.

In terms of economic development as a position within city hall, Dziekan said there is a plan afoot to possibly bring in a company or third party entity to handle those duties.

He hinted it could be a regional effort with Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti.

Dziekan said Derby and Ansonia have much in common in terms of demographics, and, obviously, geography.

A combined effort might save money, Dziekan said.

Dziekan worked in Cassetti’s administration for two years, and Sheila O’Malley, Ansonia’s economic development director and grant writer, previously held the job in Derby when Tony Staffieri was mayor.

Andrew Baklik, Dziekan’s campaign manager, will be Dziekan’s chief of staff in the mayor’s office.

Baklik said the economic development office and responsibilities could be divided in a manner among people in a way Derby hasn’t seen before.

Dziekan promised more details Monday.

Baklik said Vincent M. Marino, a principal with the Cohen and Wolf law firm, will serve as Derby’s corporation counsel (city lawyer). Marino holds the position in Orange and Trumbull, according to his bio on the law firm’s website.

The Derby Republicans now control majorities on the Board of Aldermen and the school board. They also continue to have a majority on the tax board.

Immediately after the newly elected officials were sworn in, all three boards held their first meetings.

The Aldermen voted unanimously to appoint Charles Sampson, a Westport police officer and former director of Derby emergency management, as president of the board.

Sampson replaces Democrat Alderman Carmen DiCenso, who gave up his seat on the board to run for mayor.

Sampson, a longtime Derby volunteer firefighter, said he looks forward to serving the city in a new capacity.

He said the new board, which includes five incumbents and four Aldermen elected Nov. 6, are excited to work together to move Derby forward with Dziekan.

“As the mayor said, this isn’t political season, this is a ‘let’s get work done’ season. We all look forward to working with each other,” Sampson said.

The Derby Board of Apportionment and Taxation voted to appoint Judy Szewczyk its chair once again.

The Derby Board of Education, now with a Republican majority, voted to appoint Jim Gildea, father of seven children and a longtime community leader, as chairman of the school board.

He replaces Ken Marcucio, the longtime Democratic chairman of the board. Marcucio will still serve on the board.

The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously — as required by Derby Charter — to approve waivers so that several people who collect paychecks from the city can also serve as elected officials.

Joseph DiMartino, a Derby public works employee, received a waiver to serve as Alderman.

Thomas Donofrio, a Derby police officer, received a waiver to serve as Alderman.

Louis Oliwa, who is a “paid subcontractor for the Storm Ambulance Corps,” according to Saturday’s meeting agenda, received a waiver to serve as Alderman.

Christopher Carloni, an employee of the Derby Water Pollution Control Authority, received a waiver to serve on the tax board.

The Aldermen also voted to change the meeting dates of the Board of Aldermen from the fourth Thursday of every month to the second, presumably to accommodate the work schedule of several newly elected local legislators.

The invocation prayer Saturday was offered by Father Christopher Tiano. Thomas Voytek, the commander of the Catholic War Veterans Post #1562 in Derby, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Derby Middle School Vocal Trio — Camora DeMunn, April Nowinski and Megan Povilatis — performed the National Anthem.

State Rep. Themis Klarides administered the oath to Dziekan.

State Sen. George Logan administered the oath of office to the Board of Aldermen, state Rep. Linda Gentile did so for the tax board, while state Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria administered the oath for the school board.

Probate Judge Clifford P. Hoyle administered the oath to Derby constables Sal Fusco and Peter Duhaime, while U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal swore in Derby Treasurer Keith McLiverty.

Sarah B. Widomski administered the oath to Derby City/Town Clerk Marc Garofalo, who served as master of ceremonies for the inauguration. Widomski also sang “God Bless America.”

Pastor Vinny Provenzano, from New Life Community Church in Derby, offered the Benediction Prayer.


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