Dziekan takes on Dugatto in Derby debate
DERBY — For the first time in a dozen years, the city’s two mayoral candidates will square off in a debate Tuesday night.
Mayor Anita Dugatto and her Republican challenger, Richard Dziekan, will take center stage in the high school auditorium beginning at 7 p.m. The two-hour debate is open to the public.
The race is considered the closest in the Valley. In Shelton and Seymour, Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti and First Selectman Kurt Miller are running unchallenged. In Ansonia, David Cassetti, the two-term Republican mayor, is being challenged by Tarak Raslan, a political newcomer.
Both Dugatto and Dziekan used the weekend to knock on doors and talk to voters.
Dugatto, accompanied by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, spent Saturday in the Orangewood Condominium complex on Route 34. Next Saturday she plans to door knock with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, she said.
Dziekan said he is close to having knocked on every door in the city.
“Debates enable the voters to make an informed decision,” Dugatto said Monday. “I’m not nervous. I’m very proud of what my administration has been able to accomplish. We need to keep moving Derby forward.”
Among the topics expected to be discussed is last week’s announcement that the state will begin demolishing the remaining buildings on the south side of Main Street in 90 days.
The demolition is expected to pave the way for widening Route 34/Main Street into four lanes from the Route 8 Exit to the Derby/Shelton bridge. That project is expected to start in 2019.
The mayor also is expected to talk about a U-shaped development plan for the future downtown and how she has spent much of the past four years resolving issues left behind by the previous Republican administration: the decaying water pollution control system, settling the $4 million O’Sullivan’s Island pollution clean-up for $675,000 and upgrading city hall’s technology systems.
Dugatto said the city hall computer system was so corrupted with viruses that the Town/City clerk’s office was blackballed from sending information to the state.
Dziekan, who lost by 112 votes to Dugatto in 2015, said, “There are a lot more questions she’s going to have to answer.”
Dziekan, a Hamden police officer, said he plans to ask Dugatto about the rainy day fund of less than $1 million which led Standard and Poor’s to put the city’s AA bond rating on a watch list and the closing of Adams and Walmart, which have left third-ward residents without a nearby grocery or department store nearby.
He also is expected to talk about the city’s 39.37 mill rate, which is the 18th highest among the state’s 169 municipalities, and the $32 million drop in the Grand List. He also said he planned to bring up the neighborhood outcry over a proposal to turn the former Marshall Lane Manor convalescent home into a dormitory for 110 teenage students from China attending private high schools.
The debate is a joint venture between the city’s school system and the Valley Independent Sentinel.
It will open with each candidate making a three-minute statement followed by a question to each candidate from a high school student.
The candidates will ask each other three questions and then answer questions from local reporters. It will end with each candidate making a closing statement.
No questions from the public will be taken and audience members are asked not to vocally respond to answers given by the candidates.