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Oni Sioson: ‘A Fundamental Change’ to Reputation

Published Oct. 15, 2019

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Oni Sioson wants to change East Haven’s reputation for the better. In his third bid for mayor as an unaffiliated candidate, Sioson said that as mayor he would change the region’s perception of the town.

“I would like to see East Haven be thought of as another shoreline community…We are not considered as such,” Sioson said. “Reputation is important. It affects just about every facet of our lives.”

He argued that improving the town’s perception would bring up property values, lower taxes, and encourage more businesses to move to town.

“My election will signal a fundamental change that the voters of East Haven recognize that the status quo doesn’t work,” he said.

Sioson is a Filipino immigrant and a U.S. Navy veteran who came to town in 1979. Despite early harassment targeting him and his wife, Jocelyn, Sioson successfully ran for a seat on the Board of Education and the Democratic Town Committee.

He said that recent scandals involving town officials and departments have contributed to the town’s negative perception, such as the town’s settlement of Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr.’s sexual harassment case from September 2018, for which the town paid $175,000 plus lifetime benefits to the complainant and her husband, and the 2012 indictment of East Haven Police Department over mistreatment of the Latino community.

Among his top issues, Sioson cites gender equality in executive positions and reconvening the Charter Revision Committee to improve accountability in public office.

He said these reforms all serve his drive for improving the town’s reputation. With an improved reputation, he said, comes higher home valuation, which can be better than lower taxes.

“You are losing maybe $20,000, maybe $50,000, maybe even $100,000 because [of the value of] your home or your house…but Joe [Maturo’s tax policies] are saving you $300,” Sioson said. “Once again, it goes to reputation.”

To repair the town’s reputation, Sioson proposed submitting Maturo to a polygraph test regarding the sexual harassment case, firing Police Chief Ed Lennon, and calling for a referendum to change the town’s name from East Haven to Eastport, to offer its people a clean reputation and associate it more with shoreline towns like Branford and Guilford than New Haven and West Haven.

“If we have a clean reputation, I can write to any corporation,” Sioson said.

Sioson said that his experience as an entrepreneur and business owner with an auto body shop and service center in town will contribute to his effectiveness as a mayor.

Commenting on recent controversies, Sioson came out against the proposed development on Sperry Lane.

“The project will impact that part of East Haven in such a way that the outcome will be most detrimental to their quality of life and permanently,” he said.

Sioson also questioned previous town decisions such as the sale of the D.C. Moore School and the approval of renewed operations of the Farm River Rock quarry.

“As corny as it sounds, I want to change East Haven, make it a better town,” Sioson said. “I don’t know that a Democrat or a Republican mayor can do that. If you are a member of the party, you are not expected to be an independent player.”

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