I've stayed away from this topic until now. I figured it would best be handled by the Republican Town Committee and other Waterbury Republicans, since they are the ones most immediately and directly impacted by this (I'm a Democrat). Republican Bryan Baker has been addressing the issue on Facebook and in a recent blog post. The responses from the Mayor (on Facebook and in today's newspaper) have been disheartening and even repugnant.
It has been more than three months since Alderman Paul V. Ciochetti resigned from the Board of Aldermen, and Mayor Jarjura is in no hurry to name his replacement. The tipping point for me was a Brass Tack in today's Republican American newspaper. Mayor Jarjura was quoted as saying that fourteen aldermen (instead of the full fifteen) is "more than enough" and that only a "few self-interested parties" want a fifteenth alderman. This is outrageous.
The Mayor is the only person with the authority to name a replacement for Alderman Ciochetti. This gives him the full weight of responsibility to the voters and a tremendous amount of power. By dawdling and avoiding his responsibility, he is creating a dangerous precedent and a tremendous amount of animosity and distrust.
If Ciochetti had been a Democrat, a member of the same party as the Mayor, would he have taken this long to replace him? No need to wonder--just look back to 2008. Sandra Ramirez resigned from the Board of Aldermen late in March 2008. The vacancy was filled in June 2008.
Although the newspaper quoted Jarjura in a way that suggests he has no particular intention to appoint a fifteenth alderman, he wrote on his Facebook page (in response to Bryan Baker asking when the seat would be filled) that "I plan to fill the vacancy after the first of the year." No specific time next year, just some time next year, with no reason for the delay given. This is pathetic and disturbingly lackadaisical. If I were a Republican, I would be furious. As an American and a Democrat, I am disturbed and concerned.
Mayor Jarjura is showing a total disregard and a huge amount of disrespect towards the voters. There are a couple of highly qualified young Republicans who would be excellent Aldermen and who would do a good job of representing their constituents. Since our Aldermen are all at large, not by district, their constituents include all the citizens of Waterbury - Republican, Democrat, Independent and Unaffiliated. By not appointing the fifteenth aldermen, Mayor Jarjura is disrespecting all the voters.
We need every single one of our Aldermen, not however many the Mayor has decided we need. He has a sworn duty to uphold the city charter. His comments in today's newspaper display a total disregard for the charter--if he feels like he can snub his nose at the mandated number of aldermen, what other parts of the charter does he feel like he can ignore?
His quote in the newspaper suggests that he doesn't think he needs to appoint a fifteenth alderman because only a "few self-interested parties" have been telling him to do so. That's no way to run a government. How often does anyone tell him to obey the law? Probably very infrequently, but he is still presumably a law-abiding citizen.
How does he define "self-interested"? As I understand it, the Republican Town Committee gave him several names to choose from. Does that make them self-interested? It's the Republican Town Committee's duty to make sure they retain their duly-elected representation in the city government. They are also representing the interests of their constituents. Maybe the Mayor has forgotten that he, too, represents the interests of all of Waterbury's citizens, no matter what their party affiliation (or lack thereof).
Mayor Jarjura has a responsibility to appoint a fifteenth aldermen. By shirking his duty, he is presenting an image of himself as an irresponsible and disrespectful leader. Has he considered that there are several reasons why there hasn't been as much of a clamor for a fifteenth alderman? At first, I think most people assumed there was no need to nag him, because he would of course fulfill his obligation to the voters. Then there was an assumption that he was waiting for the elections to pass--Jason Van Stone, as pointed out in Baker's blog, was almost elected to the Board of Aldermen last year, losing by a mere 91 votes. Van Stone is a likely contender for the vacated seat, but he was running for state office this fall. It made sense to assume that Jarjura was waiting to see if Van Stone won that election before appointing him to the Board of Aldermen. The election came and went, and there still was no appointment. Then, sadly, Mayor Jarjura's father passed away. Naturally, no one was going to nag him about the vacant seat on the Board of Aldermen while he was in mourning. Many people figured he should be allowed some breathing room, that he would get back to work and appoint the fifteenth alderman within a couple weeks. Now those couple of weeks and many more have passed without an appointment. Instead, we've been "treated" to disrespect bordering on abuse of power.
I'm left wondering why the Mayor has decided to wait until next year to select a new Alderman. The only conjectured reason I've heard that seems like a possibility is a little bit devious and underhanded. If a Democrat switches parties and becomes a Republican, how long is the waiting period before that new Republican can be appointed as such to the Board of Alderman? I have no idea, but it's one of the suppositions that is floating around town. Since Mayor Jarjura has not bothered to show us a little courtesy and explain the delay (other than he doesn't think it's important to fill the vacancy), we're left with rumor and conjecture.
I've written and said many times that most of the city's elected officials don't care about my neighborhood. Now I begin to see that certain elected officials are so extremely self-interested that they don't care about anyone other than themselves and their yes-men. I hope that Jarjura sticks to what he has promised and does not run for Mayor again--his ego is getting way too big.