Wallingford Democrat last served in ’90s
As published in the Record Journal, Monday December 10, 2012
By Laurie Rich Salerno
WALLINGFORD — Caught up in a wave of enthusiasm over Town Councilor Jason Zandri’s mayoral bid, fellow Democrat Peter Gouveia last week told the Record-Journal that he is considering running again for the Town Council in 2013.
The 64-year-old retired teacher was last on the council in 1998, when he was appointed to finish the term of Democrat David Doherty, who died in office. He was appointed after he was elected to three non-consecutive terms as town councilor between 1986 through 1995 He’s also the man who nearly beat current incumbent William W. Dickinson, Jr. for mayor —twice — losing by 33 votes in 1987 and 31 votes in 1991.
“I’ve always had it in back of my mind but never really took it seriously about running again,” Gouveia said. He’s been rethinking a run since Zandri announced his interest in being Democrats’ candidate for mayor in 2013. As for why he bowed out of public office in the 1990s, he said he felt he wasn’t having an impact.
“After a while you get frustrated. ... Like Jason, I’m a doer. I like to see things done.”
Gouveia repeatedly emphasized in a phone interview late last week that the decision to run was by no means final because family health issues may prevent him from running. He said he probably won’t make his decision final until the Democratic Town Committee’s nominating convention in early summer 2013.
Democratic Town Chairman Vincent Avallone said Gouveia would be a boon for the party.
“Have anybody like that on your ticket bolsters your entire ticket ... and helps attract other candidates,” Avallone said.
Gouveia was known as a vocal councilor. He often focused on topics of energy, the town’s trash plant and environmental issues, working on hazardous waste collection days in the mid 1980s and publicly faulting the state Department of Environmental Protection at the time for not finding the source of contamination of private wells near Grieb Road and East Main Street. Though he entered the council after the decision to construct the town’s waste-to energy plant, he often expressed opposition.
Gouveia also addressed social issues, calling for state funded AIDS literature to be mailed out to residents in 1987, and opposing town pension investments in companies with South African connections in the midst of apartheid.
“Our town money should not in any way help prop up a regime that promotes racial discrimination,” Gouveia said in a 1986 article in the Record-Journal.
His positions were diligently researched, former councilors of both parties say.
“I don’t think he and I would necessarily see eye-to-eye,” said former Councilor Stephen Knight, a Republican, whose terms overlapped with Gouveia’s in the 1990’s, but “I always found him to be well-prepared for the meetings, that his opinions were based on solid research and thorough study.”
Former Councilor Geno Zandri, a Democrat and Jason’s father, agreed.
“I think he has a pulse for the community,” Geno Zandri said.
Gouveia said he’d be able to devote much more time to research these days. “This time it would be even better — because I have a lot of time on my hands,” he said.
Gouveia retired from teaching in 2008 after 34 years in the Trumbull schools.
Since then he has remained involved on the Democratic Town Committee as its vice president, and is also vice president of the Center Street Cemetery under former Republican Councilor Jerry Farrell Jr. Farrell said Gouveia’s involvement at the cemetery and Holy Trinity Church could help him in a run.
“When you run for office certainly past exposure in these settings (is helpful) you want to know the person more than the party label, all of that is helpful,” Farrell said.