NORWALK, Conn. – Veteran Democratic political operative Jason Burke tried to inspire the Norwalk party faithful Monday night with the words: This may be the time Norwalk goes for a “serious candidate,” not just for the guy people like and know.
“People are legitimately frightened about what is going to happen next,” said Burke, a Norwalk native who has traveled the country for 17 years as a campaign consultant. “This will be the time they just don’t vote for the guy they know from the Sons of Italy, or the guy they drink with at the Ferris Hill Club, or one of those, which is how we have been electing people. They are going to say I want my kids to stay.”
The encouraging words followed Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Amanda Brown’s stern warning to the troops gathered on the third floor of City Hall.
“I want you to know this is a severe time for us,” she said. “When I mean severe, it is severe. We have a four-way primary potentially coming up. We’ve never done that before, ever. We have $2,000 in the bank and we have Dick Moccia to beat in November – we don’t have time to fight, we don’t have time to play, we have to work.”
Brown told them she didn’t feel she had the expertise to deal with the situation and could no longer confer with District A Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, because he is running for mayor. She said she is going to bring in a series of experts to instruct the party, because, she said, “As you all know, the most important thing for us in 2013 will be to replace Dick Moccia.”
Brown said people are leaving – both by white flight and gentrification. Thomas agreed, saying that whenever he returns to visit his mother here, he sees that more of his friends have moved to places where the taxes and the risk of crime are lower and the houses are less expensive.
“It is legitimately dire for Norwalk,” he said. “I mean, it’s not the apocalypse or anything like that, but it’s the truth.”
While some might see a four-way primary as the potential for a circular firing squad, Burke said, “You’re in a perfect position. It’s not just some guy, ‘Well, yeah, I guess I’ll run,’ or ‘It would be cool to be mayor for a few years, I guess I’ll do that.’”
The important thing is to unite after the primary, he said.
Predictably, Norwalk’s incumbent mayor did not fare well in the presentation, even if Burke remembers him as “great guy.”
Moccia was “never, ever qualified to be an executive of a city of this size,” Burke said.
“You’ve seen that over eight years,” he said. “There are things that are happening in Norwalk that he is not addressing or he’s actually just completely clueless. Like I said, not a bad guy. Somewhat incompetent and certainly ineffective. That’s the kind of message we need to be seeing out there.”