By John Murray
Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary is a decisive man. He is either all in on a project, or all out. O’Leary is not prone to dipping his toe into the water to gauge the temperature. He’s a cannonball kind of guy who enjoys making a big splash, which makes his statement today that he is “undecided” about running for re-election in November newsworthy.
“I’m not trying to be cute or play some kind of game,” O’Leary told the Observer in an interview this morning inside City Hall, “I just don’t know right now.”
The election is in early November and the Democrat Convention is little more than a month away. “There are a group of people pushing me to announce sooner than the convention,” O’Leary said. “But if I run, that is where I will announce it.”
O’Leary said he was going to take a week at the end of June to seriously discuss his options with his family, friends, and a few supporters. “I’m inclined to run,” O’Leary said, “but there are other variables I need to consider.”
The job is exhausting, and O’Leary admits the political world of Waterbury is vastly different than running a police department. “There are a lot more agendas to deal with as mayor,” O’Leary said during an interview two months ago, ” and it can be frustrating.”
For eighteeen months O’Leary has been very direct in saying to the Observer that there are elements of being mayor he adores, and other parts he looks forward to leaving in his rear view mirror.
If O’Leary decides not to run he said he would inform the Democratic Town Committee immediately upon making the decision. What would he do if he didn’t run? The mayor loves to surf fish for striped bass and said, “the stripers are running right now, and that’s a lot less frustrating.”
But right after the fishing comment, O’Leary said if he were to run, he hoped for a rematch with former five-time mayor, Mike Jarjura. “”I’d clobber him this time,” O’Leary said.
Several Jarjura confidants told the Observer that Jarjura would run if O’Leary wasn’t his opponent on the ticket in November. Waterbury has a long track record of re-electing first term mayors, and the odds of unseating a popular incumbent are not good.
Unless the incumbent unseats himself.