To be honest, I'm surprised by the Democrats and their lackluster campaign. Nothing in the mail, no ads in the Newstimes, no ads on the radio. I've received so much information from Boughton's campaign you'd think he was running against no one. The lack of enthusiasm from the democrats is good news for Boughton and unless something drastic happens in the Espositio camp (i.e. get the support of the police department, reach out to the hispanic community for support, force another debate and get it on local cable television), Boughton going to win by a landslide.
From the Newstimes
Traffic, immigration and the unresolved police contract were the top issues at the first mayoral debate Wednesday between Mark Boughton and Dean Esposito.
In fact, the issue of the police contract was thrust before the candidates even before the debate began. About a dozen members of the Danbury Police Department picketed in the rain outside the Holiday Inn, where Boughton, the incumbent Republican, and Democrat Esposito faced off. The union rejected the city's contract offer and criticizes Boughton for the impasse.
During the debate, Boughton said the contract offer was the same one members of the Danbury Fire Department approved. The police contract is now headed to binding arbitration.
"You can't go to one group and say, 'I'll give you something a little better than I'm giving someone else," Boughton said. "We have to rein in spending."
Esposito said Boughton has not negotiated in good faith with the union. He said the police are willing to compromise.
Gary Hawley, president of Hawley Construction Corp. of Danbury, was a member of the debate panel that questioned the candidates. He talked about the problem of traffic on Interstate 84.
"We've all had time sitting on I-84 to contemplate it," Hawley said.
Boughton responded: "Traffic isn't a problem that just started three years ago. We have neglected our roads for 10 years."
Boughton held up Danbury's new 78-page traffic plan, which Planning Director Dennis Elpern created over the past 18 months.
In the last four years, Boughton said, his administration worked to ease traffic congestion and pave neglected roads. He also included money in the Nov. 8 bond package for a new "intelligent" traffic signal system.
"Yes, I have noticed a lot of election-year paving going on," Esposito said.
Esposito charged Boughton has encouraged over-development downtown. When 500 condominiums on Main Street are completed — a project Boughton has encouraged — the traffic problems will only worsen, Esposito said.
John Lamb, a radio personality with WLAD of Danbury, asked Boughton whether, if he had to do it over again, he would raise the issue of illegal immigration.
"Absolutely," Boughton said. "No question. It's unacceptable that our laws not be followed."
Boughton earned national attention when he suggested deputizing state police as federal agents to arrest immigrants who do not have visas or other paperwork allowing them to live in the United States legally.
Boughton also organized a task force to shut down raucous late-night volleyball games that attracted large numbers of immigrants to previously quiet neighborhoods.
Time magazine this year published an article about Danbury that focused on the volleyball issue.
Esposito said Boughton made Danbury a nationwide laughing stock.
"Time magazine depicted Danbury as one of the worst cities in the country," Esposito said. "A mayor is supposed to support the community. How embarrassing was it for this city to be depicted as the volleyball center of the world?"
The federal government is responsible for fixing the immigration issue, Esposito said, and all Boughton did by talking about volleyball was grab national headlines.