Story and photograph by John Murray
During a post election interview Wednesday morning on WATR radio a caller told Independent Party mayoral candidate Larry De Pillo he had run a terrific campaign, and the city of Waterbury owed him a huge thank you for his decades of public service. Then the caller predicted De Pillo would return to the political arena, “You’re like poison ivy,” the caller chuckled, ” you may not see it for a while, but you know it’s coming back.”
The caller might have been a psychic because De Pillo has already been offered a still undefined position in the new O’Leary administration. O’Leary told the Observer weeks ago that if he were lucky enough to get elected, he wanted De Pillo to bring his watchdog skills inside an O’Leary team, perhaps going from department to department cutting waste to help municipal government run more effectively.
When Mayor Mike Jarjura defeated De Pillo in the 2001 election there was talk of sharing ideas and getting De Pillo to assist in bringing a water bottling plant to the city. Jarjura never reached out to include De Pillo’s ideas in his administration, a point that was a campaign issue this year. O’Leary said he didn’t know De Pillo before this campaign, but they sat down for a 20 minute cup of coffee in September, and three hours later they discovered they had a lot in common.
“Larry has great ideas,” O’Leary said, “and in Waterbury we need all the ideas we can get. I don’t care so much about political parties as I care about moving the city forward.”
The two men had agreed before the election – while standing in the WATR parking lot after a live debate – that if either of them won the election, they would reach out and include the other in their administration. Fifteen hours after O’Leary won, he bumped into De Pillo – in the WATR parking lot – and asked him to be part of his team.