Joe Cavo steps up as Danbury’s first mayor in 20 years


Taylor O'Brien

Joe Cavo is being sworn in as Danbury’s mayor on December 16th. His new position comes following his 14-year stint as City Council President.

Viktoria Wulff-Andersen, Editor-in-Chief

Joe Cavo has been the new Danbury mayor for only a month as of January 16th and has already settled in as the “guiding hand” the city currently needs.

His predecessor, current Connecticut Tax Commissioner Mark Boughton, served for ten terms before stepping down. As Cavo was most recently the City Council President, the city’s charter appointed him to fill the position until the next mayoral election in November. 

Cavo was sworn in on December 16th. Since then, he’s had a plethora of challenges to overcome. “I take it as I’m the new guy, and everyone’s trying out the new guy,” Cavo explained. “So I get into the office every day at around 8 am and don’t leave until around 6 or 7 pm. Every day I have a full agenda.”

From grant agencies reaching out to ensure their funding remains consistent to staff members bringing up workplace issues, the new mayor has been the source of local attention. Amidst the flurry of activity, Cavo has found the time to secure successes that cement his worthiness of his new position. He’s headed the COVID-19 task force during a time of vaccination and state of emergency concerns, and he’s managed to assemble a committee, with Boughton as the appointed leader, to handle the upcoming career academy and charter school project. 

On top of all of this, Cavo has had to deal with staffing programs across the city. “We’ve had two fire chiefs retire within a six month period, which has left an opening for the position. I chose to hire an interim fire chief who retired from Yonkers with 26 years of experience,” he said. 

That task hit close to home for the mayor, who previously served as the Apparatus Mechanic for Danbury’s Fire Department for 33 years. The New Jersey native took a pay cut from his job in his home state to move to the city he currently heads and contribute to its bustling community. Having had no prior experience with politics and no education in government affairs, Cavo took the chance to run for city council after a chance encounter with Boughton in 2002.

“He walked down to the firehouse to get oil for the mayor-mobile, and we got to talking. He was very personable, and eventually, he asked, ‘Have you ever thought about getting into politics?’” Despite saying no initially, Cavo decided to run for City Council when Boughton ran for his second term. He was elected in 2003, became City Council President three years later, and kept volunteering his services until he was appointed mayor.

Cavo – a husband to his “Liz,” a step-father to three children, a tinkerer in his own workshop, a caretaker to a 98-year-old widow – evidently has a humble and relatable background to much of the citizens he serves. He represents a story; a story of how genuineness and commitment can surpass the need for experience, a story of how anyone can become a politician.

This is what Boughton saw in Cavo in 2002, and why Boughton stands by the fact that Cavo will perform well as mayor. “Joe is a very kind and gentle soul that just wants to do a good job. He does so many random acts of kindness, whether it’s shoveling someone’s driveway or getting prescriptions for one of our seniors, and he shows that you don’t have to be anybody but who you are to be able to serve,” Boughton claimed. 

Other leaders and citizens are hopeful for Cavo’s term. “I’ve heard great things about him. I’m expecting him to work to have the same open communication that Mayor Mark did with the school district, that if there is an issue, I can call him with a question and he can get me the answer. That type of communication leads to success,” Principal Dan Donovan said.

Cavo loves working for a city full of passionate people like Donovan and Boughton. He describes the city as “determined, resilient, and hard-working” and believes that every day he works is another day affirming why he moved here all these years ago.

As for his plans to run again, Cavo is still uncertain. “Campaigning takes a lot of time and energy that I don’t have right now,” he rationalized. “I’m currently more focused on getting up-to-speed and completing all of my mayoral duties to the best of my ability rather than running.” 

Regardless of his future plans, Cavo is committed to making the most of his term.