Neil O'Leary marching along Baldwin Street during the 2011 St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Interview and Photographs By John Murray
Observer –How do you define the role of mayor in Waterbury? Give a brief description of the job you are applying for.
O’Leary: I define the role of the mayor of Waterbury as the number one person responsible for the day to day operations of the city. The person who is solely responsible for the perception of the city. The person who should be the city’s biggest cheerleader on a 24-hour, seven-day a week basis. The person who has to collaborate with all the department heads for the running of the city. The person who has to offer a listening ear to his constituents who have elected him to run the city, and understanding the citizens are his bosses. A mayor must remain ever sensitive to the needs of the community and his constituents. They elected him for a reason, and we must never forget that if the people elect us then they have elected us for a reason, and what were those reasons? Obviously, strong leadership skills. Obviously, strong trust between the candidate and the constituents. Obviously, a belief that the person they are voting for is going to lead their city in the direction they want to see it go in. I think that is what the mayor’s primary responsibilities are. I think what happens a lot, especially if a person is a long-term incumbent, is that those constituency beliefs some how get watered down over time. I like to call it I.A., not the internal affairs as I’m familiar with, but incumbent arrogance. It’s not something that an incumbent sets out to strive for, it’s something that just develops over time.