NORWALK, Conn. – One of Norwalk’s four Democratic mayoral hopefuls has gotten the endorsement of former Mayor Bill Collins and former Mayor Alex Knopp.
Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, who is now a zoning commissioner, was endorsed Friday by the pair, a press release from Rilling’s campaign said.
Both former mayors sited Rilling’s managerial skills in their endorsement.
“To bring serious progress to a city, the mayor needs both managerial skill and long-range vision. Norwalk is finally in luck in finding a candidate like that,” said Collins, who served four terms as mayor, from 1977 to 1981 and 1983 to 1987, in the release. “Harry Rilling has mastered the messy work of running a big department, learned to gain wisdom from the shared experiences of his colleagues nationwide, and shown from his actions on the Zoning Commission that he can figure out what’s coming over the next hill. He is ready to be mayor, and Norwalk is more than ready for his abilities.”
Knopp served as mayor for two terms from 2001 to 2005.
“I’m an enthusiastic supporter of Harry Rilling’s candidacy because Norwalk needs his new energy, his superb managerial experience and his ability to rise above the partisan bickering and factional infighting that is dragging our city down,” said Knopp in the release. “My work with Harry Rilling during my administration shows me that he is the right person to lead Norwalk away from the managerial indifference and partisan deadlock that is holding back Norwalk’s progress. Harry is the best candidate to bring our city a more effective government and genuine civic pride.”
In turn, Rilling had words of praise for the former mayors.
“I’m very grateful to Mayor Collins and Mayor Knopp for their support because they have shown how a mayor with vision, a commitment to managerial excellence and a respect for the opinions of all residents can create a heritage of achievement in Norwalk’s municipal government that lasts far beyond their terms in office,” Rilling said in the release. “I look forward to working closely with them in my campaign to become the next mayor and to govern for the benefit of all residents of Norwalk.”
Rilling is vying for the Democratic party nomination to run against incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia in the fall. Also looking for the party nomination are former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel, Common Councilman Matt Miklave and District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra.
Knopp served eight terms as a state representative from Norwalk from 1987 to 2001 and was president of the Common Council in 1986. He currently is a visiting clinical lecturer at Yale Law School and serves as a consultant to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund as the plaintiffs’ representative in the landmark Connecticut education desegregation case known as Sheff v. O’Neill.
Collins served as a state representative from 1974 to 1977 and as a Common Councilman from 1969 to 1975. He currently is an urban consultant and syndicated newspaper columnist.