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Mayor Candidate Profile: Daryl Finizio

The "new guy" hopes to bring new life to New London

Among Daryl Justin Finizio’s campaign materials are cards asking, “Who’s this new guy? And what can he do for New London?” For Finizio, being a new resident is one of the key advantages he believes can help move the city forward.

“New London needs new leadership,” he said.

Finizio’s name has already been through the ballot box twice since he , with wildly different outcomes. When the Democratic Town Committee , he came in last out of three of the party’s contenders with only six votes out of 75 cast. But after forcing a primary against City Councilor Michael Buscetto III—the DTC pick—Finizio last month when he received 1,108 to Buscetto’s 744.

The November election provides the last and most uncertain test for Finizio. He will face Buscetto once again, after the latter’s decision to run a write-in campaign, along with four other contenders for the mayor’s office.

Naming education as his top priority, Finizio said the mayor cannot make policy on hiring, curriculum changes, or other operations of the Board of Education and . He said the mayor must instead use his or her ex-officio seat on the Board of Education to advocate for the schools, while also using the office for initiatives such as bonding for school improvements and the possibility of merging the financial departments for the city and schools. According to his platform, “A Vision For New London,” Finizio would also encourage financial restructuring to focus on attracting the best educators and administrators, a merit pay program for teachers, a public service requirement for graduation, and conflict resolution and mediation programs. He has pledged to donate five percent of the mayor’s salary to a scholarship awarding a graduate excelling in volunteerism.

“We absolutely must turn our education system around now before we face a state takeover, a loss of accreditation, a reorganization of our Board of Education, and a possible loss of $7.8 million in federal funds,” he said.

Finizio said he also considers public safety and job creation as areas the mayor must work to improve within six months of taking office. He has proposed the addition of six officers to the as well as the increased use of surveillance cameras as a crime deterrent. His platform calls for initiatives such as the adoption of a COMPSTAT program to determine where to allocate patrols, an emergency preparation plan for natural or other disasters, and identifying at-risk youth and connecting them with available youth organizations and programs.

Finizio says his job creation strategy would focus on attracting small businesses to the city, with a special focus on green technology and clean energy industries. Part of the development plan includes efforts to improve entryways into the city to be more aesthetically pleasing to travelers as well as the reconnection of the northern part of the city to downtown via methods such as trolleys and a water taxi. He said he is encouraging voters to oppose the sale of a portion of to the and would like to see the park better utilized if the sale does not go through. He said the mayor will have to abide by the decision taken at the November referendum, but that some legal matters would require resolution in the event of a sale such as whether the nine acres sold would have to be replaced with nine acres of open space elsewhere in the city.

“What’s being left is not really usable land,” he said. “It’s almost an insult.” 

Finizio has also proposed the use of land value tax, a method in which property owners would be assessed for their land only rather than structures on it. He said property owners are taxed higher if they improve buildings, and that this strategy would remove that disincentive and lead to infrastructure repairs in the city.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of controversy over this issue, but really it’s one page in a 45-page platform where I say it’s a concept I support,” he said.

Finizio said the state would have to enact a pilot program for land value tax, the City Council would have to approve it, and the Planning and Zoning Commission would have to find a zone to put it into place. He said he supports the use of an LVT zone in the downtown business district, or methods such as abatements or tax credits to achieve similar goals toward building improvement if LVT is not put into place.

Throughout his campaign, Finizio has strongly supported the addition of a grants coordinator position and a legislative lobbyist position to help advocate the city and bring in revenue. According to his platform, the grants coordinator could be funded by ensuring that the salary for the chief administrative officer is reduced to approximately $80,000. Finizio said the role of this latter position in the mayor’s office would be someone with skills to complement his own, as well as political and administrative experience.

“No staffer will be making mayoral decisions,” he said. “I’m not looking for someone to be the mayor while I serve as a figurehead.”

Recently, Finizio has received some criticism for his pledge to abolish the if he is elected. At a debate in May, Finizio said he was opposed to disbanding the organization due to a potentially costly legal fight and favored a more cooperative approach. He said he has always been opposed to the use of eminent domain, and that he made the pledge after developments in the . Finizio said he believes the initial use of the townhouses as rental units, as well as the tax abatement and , are indicative of NLDC moving ahead with bad decisions.

“I think it’s gotten to the point where it’s worth the fight, because it’s the only way the city will have control” he said. “I don’t see that as waffling. I see that as responsible leadership.”

Critics have also questioned whether Finizio’s past is an indication that he may not be able to commit to New London. A member of the Republican Party in Rhode Island, he became a Democrat when he moved to Connecticut. He also left the Westerly City Council to accept a fellowship at Northeastern University in Boston. He has lived in New London for just over a year, purchasing a house on Ocean Avenue in June of 2010.

Finizio said that he visited New London frequently while he was living in Westerly, and met and married his partner, Todd Ledbetter, in the city. He said the departure from the Westerly City Council occurred in the “lame duck” period of his term, and that he accepted the fellowship because it was a “unique, once in a lifetime opportunity.” Finizio said he has always held liberal views and believed the Rhode Island GOP was representative of them, while the Democratic Party is more representative of them in Connecticut.

“I haven’t changed my political principles,” he said. “I’ve always considered myself very progressive.”

Finizio has also pledged that he will not accept private employment or run for another office while mayor, and that he does not believe a mayor should hold office for more than three terms. He said his campaign has not accepted donations from New London public employees and that he will not appoint anyone who contributed more than $100 to his campaign.

A practicing attorney since 2006, the 34-year-old candidate served on the Westerly City Council from 2006 to 2008, interned with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, and served as a page in the United States Senate. He formerly worked as a legislative policy analyst and staff analyst for the New York City Council, and is finishing his last semester teaching introductory and urban law courses at Northeastern University in Boston.

Finizio earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, a master's degree in public administration from New York University, and a juris doctorate from Roger Williams University. He is a member of gym and .

 

A new profile on each mayoral candidate will post at 3 p.m. every weekday through Oct. 17. Tomorrow, the profile will be on Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh.

loves animals October 14, 2011 at 04:52 AM
Cj Its common sense you want to be mayor and not pay taxes??? or have any ties to your community in any way? Blame the computer for accounting errors and never have held a job, WAKE UP NEW LONDON YOU CHOICES
CJ October 14, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Oh, Ann... don't promise crazy a baby really does apply here, huh? First, paying taxes doesn't actually 'tie you to the community'. He's in a commited relationship and it's THEIR decision who's name they put THEIR house in. They have their reasons and they probably don't have to justify it to you. But he still lives in New London. That's not the issue. And it's not a rule or a law or even 'common sense' that he HAS to pay property taxes. It's just something you want him to do. Well, I want him to buy me a kitten. (Just kidding Mr. Finizio, please do not buy me a kitten) It's just getting so tiresome that you and people like you just keep attacking him... ughhhhh... but it's obviously never going to stop. I just wish you would get over yourself for about .3 seconds and maybe take the time out of your life to actually meet him. Have you done that? I have and he's a great guy. Seriously. Do you know that until I met him I wasn't even registered to vote? Really. I was in the military and I never got involved in the community or politics or issues because I kept moving and getting deployed and there was no point to me caring. I told this to Mr. Finizio and he didn't mind that he couldn't 'win my vote'... he just kept talking to me like I was a human being. How awesome is that? Why don't you talk to him and see what a great human being he is too? Judge the man he is and not the propaganda.
loves animals October 14, 2011 at 05:22 AM
cj i have met him and he is vary smart nice guy and well spoken.he amy someday be Mayor of some place but if you live in a town and want to run it and its one of the highest tax towns around you should no how it feels to have high taxes. also have you talked to the other people running for Mayor I am sure you will be treaated just as well , so do not listen to the propaganda talk to the others too.
CJ October 14, 2011 at 05:34 AM
I've spoken to 4 out of 6 and yes, they have treated me fairly well but some were pre-mayor running but honestly, none of them had the energy the Mr. Finizio seemed to exude. Ann, feel free to continue to bash and attack Finizio as much as you want. Though, I find it odd that you are targeting him and not one else, but you obviously have your reasons and no, I don't care what they are. May the best human being win the mayorship. But let's try to keep it clean, shall we?
--Robert October 14, 2011 at 07:56 AM
Aside from the parts of your post that just don't make any sense to anyone but you ("WAKE UP NEW LONDON YOU CHOICES" what does that mean?) , you really couldn't be more in error. Mr Finizio has a pretty impressive resume for a young man who has spent enough time in school to earn his doctorate. He has a history of public service going back to his high school years. Working with elected officials in Rhode Island, and Washington DC from high school onward. He worked for the city of New York and was employed there during the 9/11/01 crisis. He's had a law practice and he teaches at Northeastern University as a professor. What more would you want for qualifications? I guess the Buscetto campaign can't stop yelling and slinging mud for even a minute. Maybe they'll finally be quiet after November.
Allyn de Vars October 14, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Mr. Finizio, and his partner Todd Ledbetter made the very same conscious decision which many self-employed married couples make when they bought their home in New London. Saying he doesn't pay taxes here is a lie. Saying he didn't finish graduate school is a lie. Once again, check your facts before you comment.
Lori Hopkins Cavanagh October 14, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Doesn't own a home and isn't paying property taxes. One very brief job in New York as a research assistant. A part-time teacher with no degree. Has never started a business or run a business. Has never hired, supervised or paid an employee. A career student and career politician. Left his Council position and duty to Westerly, to go to school for a degree in philosophy. Has only lived in New London a year and wants to implement one of the worst tax modification methods, Finizio’s Land value Tax. Will run businesses out of town and hurt the elderly and poor property owners and create a legal nightmare. Force who knows how many people into foreclosure by tax levy which will add to the number of City owned properties that no one will buy. Drive down property values and increase blight because the City cannot take care of all the properties he will force into foreclosure. Am I missing something or perhaps the party in control of New London for the past 50 years, is not through destroying it? A vote for Finizio is a vote for four more years of unprecedented decline, increased taxes and crime. Who wins has little to do with who the best candidate is and New London needs leadership with expertise. loriformayor.org
CJ October 14, 2011 at 01:42 PM
Lori, do you HONESTLY think coming on here and publicly targeting and bashing and putting down Mr. Finizio day after day after day is making anyone want to vote for you? Do you see any of the other 5 candidates on here every single day squabbling and fighting with the VOTERS OF NEW LONDON? You know, the city you want to be the "CEO" of? I wish your campaign would focus less on putting down Mr. Finizio and maybe focus more on what improvements you would make for New London if you were mayor?
James Dixon October 14, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Still repeating the same points, and still without a rational argument to back up anything. No degree?? Finizio has more education in his right pinky finger than you do in your head, and he has several degrees to prove it. The education gap between the two of you is made more obvious by your 6th grade level writing proficiency. You still haven't explained HOW an LVT could hurt anyone, let alone admitted the fact that it is only an idea that would only be implemented in the downtown business district if the public allowed it. It is one idea in a long list of many that look far into New London's future. As an architect, I must say I'm extremely impressed with his knowledge of sustainable design and urban planning. An ability to buy and sell property has nothing to do with that. Your ability to run a business is neither a prerequisite for public office, nor exclusively relevant. In fact, I find running a real estate business to be a dubious qualification for anything more significant than maybe a position in the planning and zoning office. Being able to write in complete sentences and use proper punctuation, however, is something I do expect of anyone holding any managerial office in any department my city. Every time you write something here, it just digs a deeper hole for your credibility to wither away in. You are missing something, Lori, but there are far too many things to list here. You could start by learning how to write in complete sentences.
Peter Hale Simpson October 14, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Well said Lori. Ties to the community is a big issue for Finizio. One would think that a candidate who had a history of cutting and running would at least have an ownership interest in their home. A candidate who said that their heart will always be in Westerly in 2008 after dumping the city to pursue a PhD in Boston who subsequently moves to Waterford CT. On page 3 of his Vision for New London he sates that "the mayor is a full time position and to effectivly serve in the office the Mayor must give total commitment to it....no Mayor should accept any other offers of privite employment until their term has expired." So does Candidate Finizio quit his PhD program if elected? Wasn't that PhD program the opportunity of a lifetime that caused him to quit the Westerly City Counsel? How does this guy run away from his past? How has he fooled so many citizens?
loves animals October 14, 2011 at 03:20 PM
The home ownership is a big deal because most couples are on the mortgage and the deed unless one of them has bad credit or can not show income because they are self employed and do not want to pay taxes and most couples and partners own together ,Lori could also speak to this very few are not owners together, all of the potential mayors filed the same expense reports but the computer work for them. When
Nesh Patel October 14, 2011 at 03:20 PM
If you want to become good politician you should check yourself whether you are a good person or not to run for any public office. If you have good personality, faith in yourself, desire to do public work at any moment then you can carry the work forward by just attacking each other nobody can win.
lorain Ohio simister October 14, 2011 at 08:16 PM
A comment to you all... All I see here is talk...who is going out to get the votes? Foot-work and touching people is how changes are made, not sitting home beating topics to death in hyperbolic stasis! Again I will say.....Ay-yayay!
Felicia Hendersen October 19, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Candidate Profiles are on the DAY website, Finizio has been endorsed by CWA 1098 and AFT. This must be another computer glitch, AFT locals all endorsed Buscetto yesterday. I did google CWA 1098 and it does not even exist. Then he lists the major issues, one of them as "EDUCATIO SYSTEM" another glitch I expect. I googled "EDUCATIO" and get nothing but "Did you mean: EDUCATION" My guess is that the response to this from the Finizio campaign or Allyn de Vars will be "The issue was found to be a computer/software compatability issue with the Day computer systems" And they probably called the DAY to find that out. It seems more like an incompatability with the Finizio view and the truth. The Day staff further stated that it was ok submit it like that and file an addendum, it is done that way all the time.
Felicia Hendersen October 19, 2011 at 07:23 PM
James BS, those are facts CWA 1098 does not exist, AFT locals did endorse Buscetto, and the on line profiles on the Day supposedly filled out by Finizio says "EDUCATIO SYSTEM" is one of the main issues. Prove those things wrong. Or do the Finizo shuffle and blame it on campaign volunteers or a computer glitch or incompatability or whatever. This Finizio campaign has more errors and mistakes than an article in the Day, and more ways to blame someone else than the New London Superintendent of Schools.
Max October 19, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Felicia, You may want to check this LTE (below link) in The Day from the president of the CWA 1298. You are right that the code is wrong (I didn't check the Finizio website to see if you had it right or not); but the Communications Workers of America Local 1298 did in fact endorsed Finizio. http://www.theday.com/article/20110930/OP02/309309918 At the local level I'm not sure how much all this union "support" buys anyone.
Max October 19, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Felicia I think you're avoiding the issues. CWA does exist and it did endorse Finizio. I can't find anywhere on Finizio's website mention of endorsements. It is difficult to argue with folks that seem to be so emotional that they've left any sense of reason behind. No one running for office is perfect. They must garner, to be effective a broad base of support. You are harping on errors...which seems to be a talking point taken from Mr. Pero's playbook. These are nits. New London's problems are deep, and very troubling. With all the potential, we have managed to become one of the poorest municipalities in the State. That alone is more than sufficient to make some of this non-issue stuff worse than trivial...it's actually part of the problem. Focus on the issues, the real ones. Not the imagined ones or the questions about which union endorsed which candidate.
Felicia Hendersen October 19, 2011 at 10:28 PM
MAX I see what you posted. But remember UNIONS are identified by their LOCAL number. Daryl listed CWA Local 1098, that local does not exist, it looks like there is a LOCAL 1298. I agree on that point. So then it was probably another example of error on the part of Daryl Justin Finizio. If the union was nice enough to endorse him then he should at least be careful enough to identify them properly in his candidate profile. Error after error on part of this man and all you supporters want to do is say OH WELL it was a mistake. How many mistakes does he get before you see that he is careless or inept or both? What is your threshold? We need a leader who can attend to the details small and large. Daryl Justin Finizio has proven over and over he is not that guy. How can Finizio handle difficult problems like those that New London faces when he cannot get his endorsment sponsors names correct, or the spelling of EDUCATION or any one of the other mistakes that he makes. These are an indication of the overall ability of the man.
Varnaud October 19, 2011 at 11:10 PM
My family uses the park regularly, and has since before I was born. I'm currently 50.
Varnaud October 19, 2011 at 11:17 PM
Hmmm...admit when he's wrong; like he did today?
Max October 20, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Felicia, Where in this article or on Finizio's website has he mention CWA at all? If he mis-spoke somewhere I don't see how that is significant. A local CWA endorsed him. I don't see this as an issue of import. While I'm not implying Mr. Finizio is or would be a great leader, however many great leaders, women/men with vision and an ability to get things done, made gaffs of one sort or another. Let's see passed the trees to the forest. You are measuring life in coffee spoons rather than what really matters in my opinion.
Johnny Habanero October 20, 2011 at 05:00 AM
Hey Lori, stop trying to defend yourself with posts. This is not a public forum and you will drive yourself nuts with trying to do so.
Felicia Hendersen October 20, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Max, Please reread the post you reference the post identifies that the CANDIDATE PROFILES came out in the DAY. Yes it does matter if the candidate has the facts straight and accurate on their endorsements. It demonstrates carelessness. I wonder why CWA did endorse Finizio when no other unions did(so far)? Seems odd that is another piece of it. It does really matter if the candidate has the ability to do the simple things correct and avoid the same mistakes over and over. That shows one has not learned from the past errors, that character trait will make it tough to be an effective leader. It is a true indication and insight as to who he is really.
Lori Hopkins Cavanagh October 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM
I will be on WXLM 980 AM radio this Sunday at 9 am with Tony Sylvester. Please visit my website at loriformayor.org.
Max October 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM
Felicia it is only odd because you have found another candidate to support and rather than presenting exactly what that candidate's strengths are you're choosing to nitpick Finizio. What is or not important is relative, and this issue you raise I'd contend is not the primary focus for most voters. Let's put it this way: if someone consistently demonstrates that he/she is willing to sell pieces of some of the most precious NL land, that's important to know. How a person deals with those kinds of decisions tells us much much more about a person's approach to NL and governance, than how many unions support them (tho one could ask why no unions support Pero, and why so many have supported Buscetto?) or whether they mis-takenly put out a wrong local number.
Unbelievable October 20, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Ms. Henderson, you sound utterly rediculous about this union stuff!!! From what I understand, Mr. Finizio was endorsed by the teacher's union. Mr. Buscetto was endorsed by the unions at the hospital....one of which is AFT (American Federation of Teachers) which is the RN union and one that I belong to! I assure you Ms. Hendersen, that there was NO VOTE at the hospital about which candidate to endorse for New London's mayor!!!!! SOMEONE (union presidents) decided that Mike Buscetto was "union-friendly". So what?? What does that mean? We are NOT city unions, we are healthcare unions so who is mayor doesn't impact our workplace, NOR your healthcare in any way.
Felicia Hendersen October 20, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Unbelievable, you are Unbelievable & utterly rediculous yourself, I guess the spelling errors over and over are part and parcel of the Finizio support camp. I see now why EDUCATIO is a main issue for Finizio! It is just rediculous how bad our EDUCATIO System is.
Felicia Hendersen October 20, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Max you win, there is just no getting through to you you worship Finizio no matter what! But Finizio winning is a different story all together.
loves animals October 20, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Felecia get the vote out for your guy and do not worry about Finizio supporters .The facts are facts and they want razzle dazzle not facts. How anyone can support a guy with no experience who can not lead or take control of his own group is beyond me. I know some very smart people who have only looked at the fact that heis new to New London so that must mean change and not the substance. Get the vote out for your person. Thanks for the facts.
Alan Green, Jr. November 05, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Lori writes: "Mr. Finizio will force property owners into foreclosure." Has Lori uncovered a secret plot in Mr. Finizio's brief case that indicates this? Fear mongering. For someone who seems to hate politics, she's pretty good at slinging mud. Lori writes: "Att. Finizio is the least experienced of all the candidates with no business or real estate expertise. I have worked for over 600 businesses,... and have extensive real estate knowledge." What Mr. Finizio has accomplished in his life is nothing short of remarkable. His education and work experience (not to mention volunteer experience) have prepared him for the Mayor position well. He owns his own successful business and has real life clients. To say differently is a lie. If anyone really cared about Lori's candidacy, maybe they'd ask her why she, in lets say a 30 year career, would have an average of 20 NEW clients a year? That kind of salesmanship is remarkable for a marketing firm of any size, but is that because she couldn't keep any clients around long enough to work with her again? Sorry. Ya gotta be able to take it if you're gonna dish it out. On Tuesday, the voters of New London have a clear choice. I truly believe in the intelligence of New Londoners to elect the Mayor we deserve: Daryl Justin Finizio. VOTE!!! Intelligent leadership is just days away!!! (Loraine, indeed, ay yay yay! Silly season is almost over! On to victory!)

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