PROSPECT — Mayor Robert Chatfield has an 11th hour challenger in Anthony Dorso, an unaffiliated candidate who petitioned to run on the Democratic ticket.
“I just felt that it’s time to make a change right now,” Dorso said on why he decided to run for mayor.
Dorso filed his petition at Town Hall Aug. 10, the last day for major party candidates to file. Minor party and unaffiliated candidates have until Sept. 7 to petition. Dorso collected 68 valid Democratic signatures, automatically putting him on the Democratic ticket. Democrats endorsed their slate of candidates last month leaving several positions, including mayor, vacant. There will be no primary since no other Democratic candidate is running.
Dorso will face Republican incumbent Chatfield, 67, who is seeking his 18th term in office.
“We’re glad to have him,” said Michael Scaviola, chair of the Democratic Town Committee and Town Council member.
Scaviola said he met Dorso a couple of times and described him as young and energetic.
Dorso has owned Custom Grounds, a lawn care business in Prospect, for nine years and has a finance degree from Post University. He said his business background and past work experience managing a multi-million dollar budget for the Federal Department of the Navy qualifies him to run the town of Prospect.
“I own my own business. When it comes to efficiency, that’s a big thing. If you’re not efficient, you’re not making money,” Dorso said.
According to Scaviola, Dorso’s employees said they love him and he is business-minded and thrifty.
“I’m also hoping he’s savvy enough to watch what he’s doing so he doesn’t spend the money. … We’re looking forward to see how this all turns out,” Scaviola said.
Scaviola said he hoped having a mayoral challenger would bring more people out to vote.
Dorso said his campaign will focus on town spending. He said citizens have little idea of where their money is being spent and he hopes to make that process more transparent.
Despite Chatfield’s reputation for being fiscally conservative, Dorso said town expenditures have risen well above increases in the cost of living under Chatfield’s reign.
The town budget was around $1 million in 1985 compared to $6.9 million in 2010, according to Dorso.
Taxpayers of Prospect unanimously passed a $6.9 million budget at a town meeting in April. The 2011-12 town budget is $3,438 less than last year’s budget.
Dorso said there have been some unnecessary expenditures on equipment in the past couple of years. He said Prospect must look ahead two to four years when planning its budget.
Dorso said that when the state cuts funding, which he believes to be just a matter of time, Prospect has to be prepared to operate without imposing more taxes on residents.
“In my first year, I’m looking to cut 5 percent in town spending without cutting any services,” Dorso said.
If he is elected, Dorso said he would try to bring in a supervisor to handle the day-to-day needs of his business, freeing him to attend to the needs of Prospect.
“If I have to find somebody, that bridge will be crossed come the election,” Dorso said.
Even though he is running on the Democratic ticket, Dorso is no stranger to Prospect Republicans.
Republicans appointed him to the Inlands Wetlands Board in March after Dorso served as an alternate for a few years, despite concerns from council Democrats, according to Republican Town Committee and Town Council Chair Thomas Galvin.
“Mr. Dorso is currently a regular member of Prospect’s Inland Wetlands Committee, a position where his landscaping expertise proves very valuable,” Galvin said in an e-mail.
Galvin said he was pleased to hear Chatfield would have a mayoral challenger.
“I know the electors always appreciate the opportunity to have a choice. Absent another mayoral candidate, I’d have been concerned about voter apathy which could depress voter turnout, and that could impact other important offices on the under ticket,” Galvin said.
Chatfield welcomed the challenge as well.
Chatfield said, “I will now have 90 days to prove to the electorate that I’m the best qualified, most experienced candidate to continue to lead the town through these difficult economic times.”
The Republican American contributed to this article.