DERBY, Conn. (WTNH) — There’s a big race for mayor going on in Connecticut’s smallest city, and it’s a re-match.
About 13,000 people live on less than five square miles in the Naugatuck Valley city of Derby.
Republicans did do well here in last year’s elections. President Trump won here as well as in other parts of the Naugatuck Valley, and Republicans took the local state senate seat that had been held by a Democrat for more than two decades.
60-year-old Anita Dugatto is the city’s two-term Democratic mayor. A dentist by profession, she had to fight off a tough primary challenger in Sept. winning by just 30 votes. She’s in a re-match with 52-year-old Rich “Zeke” Dziekan, a 24 year veteran of the Hamden Police Force. Two years ago, he lost to Dugatto by just 112 votes in the final election.
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Dziekan thinks the Republican gains last fall are a wave that is continuing now, saying, “There’s a trend going on here. I definitely think the citizens of Derby, the citizens of Connecticut are just fed up with what’s going on and so they’re looking for a change.”
But Dugatto says she senses that President Trump-voting Democrats are now having buyer’s remorse, saying, “There’s a turn around. There’s some issues going on in the Republican Party so Derby’s here and the Democrats are always here to be for the people.”
There are, of course, very local issues in the race like the long-delayed updating of Route 34 through the center of town and delayed development projects. On that topic, Dugatto says she’s made progress, saying, “I’ve laid the ground work so we’ve been marketing Derby and we’re advertising and we’re ready. We’re ready to go.”
Dziekan says he has an even better idea, “We own about fifteen properties that I want to get red of, sell them and have them…Put them back on the tax list.”
This is a community with a history of close elections.The voter turnout was over 30% by 4 p.m.