Esposito hires campaign spokesman to mayor’s office
“He offers a really good background in communication. He is going to be a true asset here in City Hall and the mayor’s office in leading us forward in a positive way.” Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito
DANBURY — Mayor Dean Esposito has hired his campaign spokesman to serve as the city’s government affairs and communications advisor.
John Kleinhans will take on the new position, which blends the roles of two mayor’s office staff members who are leaving for other jobs, Esposito said. The position is budget neutral, the mayor said.
Esposito praised Kleinhans “impressive resume,” which includes serving as executive director of the Connecticut Republican Party and, most recently, as vice president of public affairs and strategy for ImageWorks, which provides marketing and consulting services for businesses, advocacy groups and non-profits in the state.
“He offers a really good background in communication,” Esposito said. “He is going to be a true asset here in City Hall and the mayor’s office in leading us forward in a positive way.”
Marc Dillon, the community relations and project manager in the mayor’s office, and Taylor O’Brien, public relations specialist, have resigned for other jobs outside of City Hall, Esposito said.
“We wish them the best,” he said. “They’re really good people. They both were assets to us. They’re moving on in their careers, and we’re very proud of them, and we support them all the way.”
Dillon, the campaign manager for former Mayor Mark Boughton’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign, was hired shortly before the 2019 mayoral race, raising Democrats’ eyebrows at the time.
O’Brien has been with the city since 2016, according to her LinkedIn, and became better known in the city for her involvement with Boughton’s “Live@5” broadcasts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Esposito said he thinks their official last days are Jan. 3, but Dillon is using up his vacation time until then and had his last day in the office on Thursday.
The mayor declined to comment on Kleinhans’ salary, saying it hasn’t been finalized with human resources. City data showed Dillon earned about $77,000 in 2020, while O’Brien made about $56,000. Kleinhans’ salary
won’t be a full combination of those figures, and the budget will not be raised for the position, the mayor said.
“It’s actually a blessing for us,” Esposito said.
“We’re getting some real quality people and we didn’t have to increase the budget.”
Kleinhans has had more than a decade of experience in state, municipal and communications roles, according to a press release. He’s developed strong relationships with legislators and officials at the state level, Esposito said.
“That’s going to give us a leg up,” he said.
He serves as advocacy chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Brian Dagle Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention and mental health services. Kleinhans served on the East Lyme Board of Education from 2015 until 2021. He also served as a member of the Vernon Planning and Zoning Commission from 2015 to 2017.
Kleinhans said in a statement he’s “honored” and “excited” to take on his new position.
“I will be focused on carrying out his priorities to continue Danbury’s reputation as Connecticut’s top city to live, work, and raise a family,” said Kleinhans, who is completing a graduate certificate in public financial management from the University of Connecticut.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Lyndon State College and master’s of public administration concentrated in organizational leadership from Norwich University. He’s served on the Board of Trustees for the Vermont States Colleges and as student body president of Lyndon State College.
His duties will involve working with the press, Esposito said.
“But most of all, he’s going to be dealing directly with the state delegation,” he said. “He’s going to be oversight of all state issues that we deal with here in the city of Danbury.”