By Josh LaBella
Former two-term mayor and current mayoral candidate Ed O’Brien said he decided to run for the top spot in the city so he could continue where he left off.
“I think we had a lot of good development going on,” said O’Brien. “We were actually raising revenue instead of raising taxes. I just want to finish what I started. I’ve had a lot of developers calling me and asking me to run again and a lot of residents, who didn’t vote last time, were asking me to run.”
O’Brien said complacency was the reason he lost the previous election. He said many voters did not turn out and his own team thought he was a shoe in.
O’Brien acknowledged the top issue in West Haven is finance. He said he agrees with the other mayoral candidates who said the only way out of the trouble the city is in is development.
“We need economic development,” said O’Brien. “We need to increase the grand list.”
O’Brien said he would prioritize the train station area as well as Center district for development. He also said he wants to ensure work on the Haven project and Beach Street development continue.
The former mayor said current Mayor Nancy Rossi won using a misinformation campaign. According to O’Brien, the city’s finances were getting better under his leadership.
“We had to work with the MFAC, which morphed into the MARB, and they recognized we were moving in the right direction,” said O’Brien. “We paid off 18 percent of our debt. I did not double the deficit. It’s a cumulative deficit. It’s the same as it was when I started.
O’Brien said he knows he would work well with the Municipal Accountability Review Board. He said he sees them as another set of eyes and pointed to his work with the Municipal Finance Advisory Commission as proof it would be a good relationship.
O’Brien took issue with the tax increases the city has seen during Rossi’s term. He said they were due to Rossi’s unwillingness to make cuts and big changes.
“The MARB wanted her to make cuts,” said O’Brien. “They wanted her to make substantial changes. They wanted us to do that also. We changed our healthcare; we saved a million dollars. We changed our energy and saved $600,000. She was cutting concerts that were mostly paid for by fundraising.”
The candidate said he plans to make cuts while concentrating on raising tax revenue via commercial development.
O’Brien said he is not entering his name into the democratic caucus which occurred Tuesday night after press time. He called the Democratic Town Committee “a political group that is very supportive of Nancy.” He added he thinks the DTC is very supportive of Rossi regardless of whether her decision is good or bad.
“I think I’m going to [focus] on the Democrats of West Haven,” said O’Brien. “I’m just going to primary afterwards.”
O’Brien said he has been getting a good response from democrat voters in the city and believes he will do well in the primary.