Waterbury mayor announces he will not run for re-election during ‘State of the City’

Waterbury Mayor O'Leary not seeking re-election
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 12:17 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:32 PM EDT
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WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) - Waterbury’s mayor announced he will not seek another term during his ‘State of the City’ address Thursday afternoon.

It was slated to begin at noon. You can watch it below:

Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary held is 'state of the city' address on March 23.

“After agonizing thoughts and reflections I have decided that this will be my last term as mayor of our city,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary has been mayor of Waterbury for 12 years. He is the longest consecutive-serving mayor in the city’s history.

His career began in 1980 as a Waterbury patrolman.

“I think one of the important things about politics is knowing when to say when,” said O’Leary.

Governor Ned Lamont made a statement on O’Leary’s announcement:

“Neil O’Leary is a true example of what it means to dedicate oneself to public service, following his nearly 30-year career as a Waterbury police officer and 12 years as the city’s top official. His leadership has truly had a positive impact on the city’s schools, its housing, and its public safety, and it has been an honor for me to collaborate with him on these issues over the last several years. He’s a good friend, and I wish him and his family the best in their next endeavors.”

During his State of the City address, O’Leary expressed concern about crime citing stats that show an increase in violent crime committed by people on pre-trial release, parole and probation.

“I’m hopeful that the recommendations that the mayors task force has put in the form of a bill that is being discussed this session, we will get some hard wins here,” O’Leary said.

One of his last mayoral goals is to get legislation passed strengthening punishments against violent reoffenders.

The city’s police chief echoed the need for the next mayor to make crime a priority.

“There’s a bit of recidivism that’s going on. There’s a very small group of individuals who are engaged in prior violent felony offenses,” said Chief Spagnolo.

The mayor’s race is expected to heat up soon.

A familiar face has come forward on the democratic side with Board of Alderman President Paul Pernerewski Junior putting his hat in the ring.

“I am running because I want to continue that momentum and build on Mayor O’Leary’s accomplishments,” said Pernerewski.

“Paul is the only Democrat that I’m aware of that announced his interest,” said O’Leary. “Obviously he’s very important to me and we’ll see where it goes from here.”

There are at least 2 candidates on the republican side who have expressed interest including Keisha Gilliams, a longtime city resident who has run for mayor before, and local businesswoman Dawn Maiorano.

Channel 3 reached out for comment but have not heard back.

The address will focus on planned improvements for the community as well as businesses.