Neil O'Leary Weighs In On Mike Jarjura's Defection To The GOP

Former Waterbury police chief Neil O'Leary announced his candidacy for mayor in early February. O'Leary had agreed not to challenge Mike Jarjura in 2009 when the mayor promised to support him in 2011. Jarjura changed his mind, but the Democratic establishment, which had helped broker the arrangement in 2009, threw its support behind O'Leary. Without party support, and with philosophical differences with state and federal Democratic leaders, Jarjura announced on May 31st that he had switched parties and is now a Republican. Photo by John Murray

Full Text of O'Leary's Statement - 

   Yesterday, Michael Jarjura announced his candidacy for Mayor. He indicated that he will be running on the Republican slate. Quite frankly, I welcome the competition. A thoughtful airing of the issues and positions of the candidates will give the voters a real choice as they make their decisions on who should be the next Mayor of the City.

   In his comments leading up to his announcement, Mr. Jarjura proclaimed that he had been “betrayed” by his party and that the party had “abandoned” him. It is certainly an interesting twist on the facts. Others can comment on who abandoned whom. I would rather focus on the issues. I sincerely believe that this is what the voters want – not negative campaigning or character assassinations. Here are my thoughts.

   First, taxes cannot go up. Since 2001, the average homeowner’s tax bill has increased dramatically either by outright tax increases, as the one imposed last year, or through the two revaluations conducted. Waterbury taxpayers have already given enough. They were the ones who bore the brunt of the sacrifice demanded by the Oversight Board. To increase taxes, as the Mayor did last year, is counter-productive. It only drives more taxpayers out of the City.

   How do we maintain the line on taxes? We must require further efficiencies in City government. We can do more with less. As Police Chief of the City of Waterbury, I was able to reduce the size of the police force by 40 officers and save millions of dollars in overtime and salaries while increasing the professionalism of the department, reducing crime and improving services. We can do this in other departments as well.

   We also need to expand our tax base by attracting businesses and creating jobs. The more businesses and new homeowners moving into the City and paying taxes, the less tax burden is placed on those who are here, now. Attracting businesses requires not only a sound economic development plan, but the active participation of the Mayor. He must be the City’s biggest salesman. He must inspire confidence in those interested in moving to Waterbury. He must cultivate the required relationships at the State and Federal levels to insure that Waterbury gets its fair share of economic development funds. I will disclose detailed plans for economic development and other important issues such as neighborhood revitalization, public safety, downtown revitalization, jobs and education reform, in the coming months.

   Finally, I believe there is one other important issue at play this year. Waterbury desperately needs a real leader who will not be content with record unemployment, blighted buildings and unsustainable taxes. The good people of the City of Waterbury are willing to do their part if they are being led a Mayor, who will work 24/7, provide a vision, empower all residents, and offer hope for a better future. Respectfully, these are the qualities I believe I can bring to the Office of Mayor.

   I look forward to a candid discussion of the issues with all of the mayoral candidates.