O’Leary Electrifies Dunn Rally; Lt. Gov. Rallies Dems Towards Finish

by Christopher O'Brien
Mirella Dandio blows a horn as her father and Republican Town Chairman gets their car ready for a final motorcade Sunday afternoon

Mirella Dandio blows a horn as her father Greg Dandio readies gets their minivan for a Republican rally Sunday afternoon

By Chris O’Brien

Heavy hitters from Waterbury and Hartford pumped up political campaign rallies as teams gathered their supporters before their final push towards Election Day.

State Attorney General George Jepson addresses Democrats. Looking on are Chairman Tony Casagrande and Mayoral candidate Michael Gugliotti

State Attorney General George Jepson addresses Democrats. Looking on are Chairman Tony Casagrande and Mayoral candidate Michael Gugliotti

“We have two days and twenty minutes enjoy the pizza, because this is your last meal,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman told town Democrats in her trademark red dress and heels at J & M Pizza Sunday night. Second District Council candidate Anthony Gugliotti reminded supporters that their ticket had vastly more experience at running town government than Republicans. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be successful.”

Democrats were backing recently retired Waterbury Police Chief Michael Gugliotti to challenge current Mayor Tom Dunn’s 10 year record. But just down the road was another former Waterbury Police Chief giving a different kind of speech.

Thomas G. Dunn (PC) welcomes Neil O'Leary to a rally Sunday night. Looking on is his brother.

Thomas G. Dunn (PC) welcomes Neil O’Leary to a rally Sunday night. Looking on is his brother.

———————————————————————-View Video of Michael Gugliotti, Neil O’Leary and Bridget Dunn making their case HERE!

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“You don’t just wake up and say you’re qualified to become the Mayor of Wolcott. You put your time in with the community and townspeople. Your family gets involved intimately with the community. And that’s what the Dunn family and Tommy have done,.” O’Leary said, working up the standing-room only crowd of over 250. He and Dunn’s daughter Bridget warmed up the crowd noting Dunn’s record on taxes and keeping stable budgets.

Democrats echoed how important personal relationships are to local governance. Wyman recalled how she couldn’t leave supermarkets without getting stopped by neighbors to talk about her service on Tolland’s Board of Education. “The milk reached its expiration date before I left the store!” the restaurant erupted in laughter. Now, she says its easier because her role isn’t as direct.  “To me its the most personable and caring – you can deliver faster than any of us can (at the state level).” said Wyman.

CHECK BACK SOON AS VIDEO WILL BE ADDED….

O’Leary, took time out of his own re-election bid as Mayor of Waterbury. He was Gugliotti’s boss and predecessor just four years ago. After retiring from the leading the Brass City’s police department, the relationship between the two irishmen have become symbiotic after a chance meeting when Dunn took his father to lunch at O’Leary’s favorite restaurant, Domar’s. Dunn tapped O’Leary to lead Wolcott’s troubled police department after several officers came under investigation by the State Police. O’Leary led the department for two years before seeking his hometown’s top office.

“What Tommy has done in this town is amazing! This is the worst economy all of our life times- and even his parents’ lifetimes. – And yet, look at this town. Its fiscally stable. Its strong. the bond rating is strong. there is a surplus every year. Your taxes haven’t gone anywhere.” The crowd cheered. O’Leary went on to note how different styles of governing Wolcott and Waterbury have. “He’s taught me alot. Earlier this year, we had the February blizzard. Around 5 in the morning, I’m at the Marriott hotel trying to get some heavy equipment in for our city -I’m there because my own road is blocked. And I decided to call Tommy to see how things were up there. On his end I heard a noise. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked. He was driving a plow truck,” he responded to enthusiastic laughter.

The campaign was largely non-existent until two weeks ago when a series of flyers were mailed to residents accusing Dunn of nepotism, failure to assess property owners along the new High School waterline, and his failure to to build a promised parking lot next to Frisbee School. Many in town have bristled at the negative tone the campaign had taken. One flyer included cartoon caricatures of Dunn and Tax Collector candidate Darlene Tynan with duct tape over their mouths.

Dunn’s backers fought back. “They don’t have a right to bring politics that wasn’t accepted in Waterbury out to Wolcott – they don’t have that right!” O’Leary’s voice boomed to loud cheers and applause. He noted his experience with the rough and tumble political culture in Waterbury. “I’ve seen how Tommy treats people out here. And his family treats people. They love this community. ”

Bridget Dunn took her turn at the microphone responding to Gugliotti’s charges of nepotism.  “You don’t win elections because of your last name. You don’t win elections because of who you are related to. You win elections because you’re the right person for the job and what you can offer to the community.”

Gugliotti responded a few minutes after the Dunn rally concluded, noting how he was proud of his experience in Waterbury. “Our opponents feel they have a right to tell us to ‘stay out of Wolcott’ and not bring Waterbury or Governor Malloy’s politics to this town.” “Boo!,” Wyman chimed in.

“This is what I have to say about it: Gov. Malloy, the Lt. Governor and any other state leader is welcome to this town with open arms!”

Gugliotti continued: “Come Tuesday night, this town will be thanking Waterbury for the 25 years I’ve gained as a public servant. Come Tuesday night the voters will be thanking Waterbury for helping me become the person I have become today. They will be thanking Waterbury for helping me to become the proven, decisive, fiscally responsible manager that I have become. And they will be thanking me by electing me as Mayor to the Town of Wolcott!”

The crowd lept to their feet in a standing ovation.

Gugliotti managed a police department of a budget just a little larger than Wolcott’s entire municipal budget and about 375 employees.

A few minutes later, Michael Gugliotti while flanked by Attorney General George Jepsen and other state Democratic officials. “The Republicans have chosen to back an independent incumbent and attack our party and our Governor. I think its pretty irresponsible to attack our Governor when the means of balancing our budget is through $15 million in state aid. Pretty foolish,” he said to applause.

“If it helps make our town more successful,” he continued turning towards Wyman and Jepsen “I’ll be happy to connect with you every day of the week and twice on Sunday!”

Republicans, who currently control six of nine seats on the Town Council spurned Gugliotti’s bid to run with them back in June. They’ve cited their cooperation in working closely with Dunn on budgets over the last two years. In 2011, Republicans swept every possible seat except for Town Treasurer from Democratic control. “We’re confident that people in Wolcott are satisfied with the Town being run under our leadership. They’re going to re-elect the Republican Team with Darlene Tyana as Tax Collector,” Republican Chairman Greg Dandio tells the Whisper.

Democratic Town Chairman Tony Casagrande says that Wolcott Democrats are ready as ever to take back local government. “We unified with Row C faction – most of those guys are former Democrats and now they’re back”. Gugliotti worked with many members of the 2009 Row C team that ushered in four unaffiliated Town Council candidates and almost defeated a longtime tax collector. While that group’s names appeared on the same petitioning candidate line as Dunn, they were a distinctly independent group from the Dunn clan.

This year, five candidates appear as petitioning candidates. Darlene Tynan is in another close election for Tax Collector. The other four candidates are running on their own.

That includes Steven Olmstead who is also challenging Dunn for Mayor. He spent the night at home Sunday night, but has joined Gugliotti in criticizing Dunn on some of the same issues. He also has proposed getting business interest in bottling Wolcott’s abundant water supply, offering partial school vouchers and researching on whether hydroelectric power could be obtained from the Scoville Dam to power the Senior Center, Police Department and Frisbee School.

Another hot race included that of Town Tresurer, being vacated by 17 termer Roger Levesque. George Phelan attended the Dunn rally, although Tony Marino appeared to be absent. Democratic candidate David Gentile lamented that he tried to hold a debate for the open seat numerous times but “most of the time didn’t get a response,” from the other two candidates.

Polls will be open until 8 pm Tuesday at the usual three voting locations.

During Election Day, Republicans will be working out of a headquarters next to Five Guys’ Flippin Pies on Wolcott Rd. Democrats will be at J & M Pizza and have a post- election party there while vote tallies are gathered. Dunn’s supporters and Republicans will meet again at the VFW beginning around 7:30. The public is invited to attend.

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