By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
PROSPECT — For the first time since 2015, the Prospect Democratic Town Committee’s slate for the municipal election has a challenger for mayor.
The committee at a July 22 caucus endorsed Town Council member Kevin O’Leary to run for mayor in the November election.
“I believe we have the most qualified slate this cycle and I intend on showcasing the strength and experience that our entire slate of candidates offer,” O’Leary said.
Republican Mayor Robert Chatfield, 77, has held the mayor’s seat since he was first elected in 1977. Chatfield was endorsed by Republicans to run for a 23rd consecutive term. The mayor’s race will also feature Taryn Finley, 35, who is running as an Independent candidate.
O’Leary, 31, is an attorney and partner with the firm Dolan Divorce Lawyers in New Haven. The council appointed him in February to serve the remainder of former council member Paul Murray’s term through November. O’Leary served on the Inland Wetlands Commission before his appointment to the council.
“Throughout my time on the Town Council, I have always maintained a nonpartisan approach to municipal governance and strongly believe that all residents deserve to know what is happening at town hall,” he said. “There is a need for practical solutions that are embedded in the data and evidence-based methodologies.”
O’Leary said there needs to be proper recognition and oversight of town operations, as the town continues to incur significant legal fees, including from the theft from a town payroll account, Freedom of Information Act violations and union contract interpretation.
O’Leary said his platform will focus first and foremost on the legal and litigation issues affecting the town and budget.
“I am the most qualified candidate in this area and can jump right in to help guide the town in the right direction,” he said. “This includes working on streamlining operations and intensifying municipal oversight to save taxpayers the significant legal expenses currently being incurred by the town on a yearly basis.”
The committee backed incumbents Larry Fitzgerald, Patricia Geary and Theresa Graveline as well as Betty Bajek and Kathryn Zandri for Town Council. One party can hold up to five seats on the nine-member council.
The committee endorsed Gezime Ajro and Karima Jackson to challenge for seats on the Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees public schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. Each town has four seats on the board. This year, two of Prospect’s seats are up for election.
The committee tapped Linda Hennessey to run for town clerk, Carl Graveline for tax collector, and Elizabeth Bartolucci for treasurer.
Democrats also endorsed Renee Schwarzkopf and Lisa Caivano for Board of Assessment Appeals, Gena Mann for Planning and Zoning Commission, and Leigh Carmody and Carl Montagano for Zoning Board of Appeals.