Former West Haven Mayor O’Brien considering another run against Rossi
Former two-term Mayor Ed O’Brien has formed an exploratory committee for a possible bid to recapture in 2019 the seat he lost to Mayor Nancy Rossi in 2017, O’Brien confirmed.
“I am going to spend the next few months talking to residents and exploring the possibility of running again for the Office of Mayor, a seat I held from 2013-2017,” O’Brien said in a text statement that began with, “To the Residents of West Haven.”
“Why would I seek to run?” he asked in the text, which confirmed what he first suggested in a YouTube video posted on one of his Facebook pages Friday. “The answer is simple, West Haven is too great to give up on.”
O’Brien said in the YouTube video that he had formed an exploratory committee, which is necessary for a possible future candidate to raise money.
He said by phone that he is considering another run because “it’s my hometown” and “I don’t like the direction it’s going in.”
O’Brien said he doesn’t know when he might make a final decision. “I’m just going to talk to as many people as I can ... to make a decision one way or another when I feel it’s right,” he said.
“When I close my eyes and picture West Haven 25 years from now, I see a city with a strong commercial base and reasonable taxes; a city with low crime, clean streets, where visitors from around the state flock for our festivals, concerts, beaches and our wonderful quality of life,” he wrote in the text.
“When I see the direction the present administration is taking West Haven, it is a very different picture,” he said. “I see a city where there are financial mistruths spun for political gain, only two ways to fix 30-year-old financial problems, cuts to crucial services and community events as well as huge tax increases.”
In addition, “economic development efforts have come to a screeching stop,” O’Brien said.
“It is my belief, and the belief of the armies of people that have reached out to me over this last year, that we were on a path that was leading our city out of the stagnations it has been in for a quarter of a century,” he said.
He said that “in the next few months, I will be talking to residents both to explain why getting back on track is so important and answer questions about both our past and our future”
O’Brien urged any concerned West Haveners to contact him directly on his cellphone at 203-668-0641 if they have any questions. Over the next few months he said he will hold a series of “Meet & Greets” in people’s homes.
Rossi did not immediately return a call for comment.
Rossi has credited the O’Brien administration with running up $10.3 million of the $18.1 million cumulative deficit that put the state at West Haven’s doorstep.
The city was put under the guidance of the state Municipal Accountability Review Board after the city sold $16.13 million in deficit bonds last November, shortly before O’Brien left office. Rossi has been dealing with the MARB since she took office last December.
O’Brien said in the YouTube video that the video’s purpose was “to answer questions that I’ve been getting since the election. More and more frequently, people are asking me if I plan on running for mayor in 2019. More and more I’m being asked that blunt question: Will you run for mayor again?
“I’d be lying if I said the thought hasn’t crossed my mind,” he said.
As mayor, he said he “loved having the opportunity to shape our city for the next generation and the generations to come ... Watching West Haven begin to transform into a city where people wanted to move, companies wanted to invest their money, was extremely rewarding.”
But West Haven “is a tough political town,” and any campaign is full of “low blows and personal attacks.”
O’Brien said he had planned to wait a while longer to step forward, but “I am frustrated with the turn our city has taken: poor communication, conflicts with the state, unkept surroundings and increased taxes.
“As a taxpaying citizen who had a desk in City Hall, I know this doesn’t have to be the case and I know it is unacceptable,” he said in the video.
“After a year of soul searching and watching the actions of the current administration, talking to countless residents and hearing the effects this administration’s tax increases are having on them, the decision to at least explore the option was an easy decision to make,” he said.