Maiorano Hears Waterbury Residents’ Concerns About Taxes, Crime During Door-Knocking Campaign

Waterbury Republican mayoral candidate Dawn Maiorano, left, door knocks in the city's Town Plot neighborhood on Sept. 28, 2023. With her is resident Jamie Zambero (CT Examiner).

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WATERBURY – Mark and Jamie Zambero said they are fed up with crime and frustrated with the direction Waterbury political leaders are taking the city. And they want a change.

“She [Waterbury Republican mayoral candidate Dawn Maiorano] has my vote,” said Jamie, an Anna Avenue resident. “The city needs a change. We need to get rid of  the Democrats because they are making America worse; we want to make Waterbury better.”

The Zamberos were among six residents Maiorano, 55, spoke to on Thursday while door knocking in two sections of the Town Plot neighborhood.

The residents were friendly enough, many with ‘Maiorano for Mayor’ signs on their property. 

Crime – both nuisance crimes like riding ATVs to more serious crimes like robbery, car break-ins and assault – were on the minds of many voters Maiorano encountered during her walk through the area.

Maiorano, who will face Democratic mayoral candidate and Board of Aldermen President Paul Pernerewski Jr. in the November general election, was joined by Republican Board of Aldermen candidate Mike Grosso and her campaign manager, Nathan Vieira.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, a Democrat, has served since December 2011 and announced earlier this year he wouldn’t seek another term.

Jamie said she lives in a “great place where we know our neighbors,” but added, “Our city is erupting. If you leave [the neighborhood] it gets scary out there [with crime].”

Mark echoed his wife’s assertions as Maiorano, a fourth-generation Waterbury resident, nodded in agreement.

“Crime is a big issue,” he said. “There are the ATVs and they go flying around on motorcycles. The police need the support of our community leaders.”

Maiorano, who would be the city’s first female mayor if elected, touted her support of local police and said the city needs to hire upward of 60 more officers. The city currently has about 250 officers, but Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo recently told CT Examiner he’d like to have about 320 on the payroll.

Maiorano, the operator of a family-owned funeral home and a resident of the city’s Bunker Hill neighborhood, reiterated her opposition to the state’s Police Accountability Act to residents. She asserts the act ties the hands of officers and makes it harder for them to do their jobs.

“How about we have a Criminal Accountability Act? How about holding criminals accountable instead of cops?” she asked during a conversation with resident Dave DePalma and his mother, Claudia DePalma, who lives a few doors down from her son.

Dave, a Democrat, and his mother, a Republican, both said crime was a major concern and that they’d support Maiorano. Dave also said taxes were top of mind. 

“Waterbury has had such a bad rap lately. We have some nice neighborhoods, but some parts of the city are just getting worse,” he said. The Democrats haven’t fixed the problem – they’ve just made it worse.” 

Dave, who recently retired as a state corrections officer, said he believes criminals today “have very little consequences.”

White Rose Avenue resident RoyAnn James-Ellerbee, who had a ‘Maiorano for Mayor’ sign on her lawn, said she always votes Republican and that Maiorano has her support.

“We haven’t had a viable Republican candidate in a long time,” James-Ellerbee said. Phil Giordano, who was the city’s last Republican mayor 22 years ago, is currently serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two young girls.

James-Ellerbee said a main concern is tax increases, something Maiorano said that, as a business person, she can tackle head-on. If elected, Maiorano said she would call for an immediate audit of the city’s $440 million budget.

Additionally, Maiorano said she has a proven track record of success. She noted she was partly responsible for the popular tagline “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” when she was media director for R & R Partners, that city’s advertising firm at the time. Maiorano said she has more than 30 years of business and marketing experience.

The city needs a business person’s approach,” Maiorano told CT Examiner during her door knocking Thursday. “There is no economic development in this city. Look at Bristol and New Britain, though, they have cranes and steel in the air. But not in Waterbury. We need to reduce taxes and increase the grand list, and it’s not happening.”

“I know how to get things done, I’ve done it,” Maiorano continued. “I have a team in place to help rebuild this city.”

Anna Avenue resident Elizabeth Farrington told Maiorano that taxes, crime and education are issues that are important to her.

Farrington said she homeschools her children because she’s not a fan of Waterbury’s public schools. 

“The taxes here are awful,” she said. “I pay more than $600 a month in taxes for my house. The cost of everything is going up. It makes it a little more difficult to live here.”


Robert Storace

Robert Storace is a veteran reporter with stints at New Britain Herald, the New Haven Register, the Connecticut Post, Hartford Business Journal and the Connecticut Law Tribune. Storace covers the State Capitol for CT Examiner. T: 203 437 5950

Robert.Storace@ctexaminer.com