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Norwalk Dems endorse Rilling for reelection

Mayor Harry Rilling addresses Norwalk Democrats on Thursday in City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Democrats overwhelmingly endorsed Mayor Harry Rilling for reelection Thursday, challenger Bruce Morris’s only non-District B support marked by abstentions.

The vote tally was 41-9-5, with all the votes for Morris, State Representative for District 140, coming from District B.  

“I can stand here today and say I feel very confident that we are doing a great job in the city of Norwalk,” Rilling said, accepting the nomination. “Things are moving forward. There will be people that will complain and say things aren’t happening, naysayers and so forth, but you know what? Things are happening in Norwalk. We are doing a great job.

Morris was not allowed to speak, as DTC Chairman Ed Camacho said that only the prevailing candidate could make a speech.

Rilling was nominated by former Mayor Alex Knopp.

“I think the city of Norwalk has never been in stronger hands,” Knopp said, citing construction of developments that were long stalled, increased parking for the Norwalk Public Library and funding for new schools.

“I think we have to realize that cities like Norwalk may be facing difficult times,” Knopp said. “Our needs probably exceed the resources the state can share with us and the federal government is quickly abdicating any responsibility for helping to grow and nurture America’s urban areas. As a result, we need somebody in the driver’s seat at City Hall who both has a vision of driving Norwalk in the future but can do it while building consensus. To me that’s the hallmark of Harry’s very successful terms as mayor.”

Martha Dumas nominated Morris.

“I think Mayor Rilling has tried to work with everyone in the city of Norwalk and has tried to do what he could. However, I would like to nominate Bruce Morris for the position of mayor. I think he politically has more to offer the entire city of Norwalk, and the people of Norwalk,” Dumas said.

Multiple Democrats seconded Rilling.

“He has kept our taxes low,” former Common Council member Warren Peña said. “He has fully funded the board of education. He’s got infrastructure projects throughout the city. He’s done a lot of work down in South Norwalk.”

Council member Travis Simms (D-District B) seconded Morris.

“I think he’s done a fantastic job up the state,” Simms said. “He’s worked hard with trying to bring ECS funding back to the city of Norwalk.  …I think the city needs to go in a different direction, have a new vision.”

Rilling bestowed kudos on all the hard-working volunteers that serve on Norwalk’s Boards and Commissions, as well as the elected officials that help make the city run. The great job they are doing shows in multiple ways, including strengthened communications with citizens, he said.

“We have fostered business retention,” Rilling said, citing “Xerox, CPTV, GGP and “GE jobs that were going to leave Connecticut but came to Norwalk.”

There will be a ground breaking on The SoNo Collection in August and Washington Village will help many people, Rilling said.

The grand list has grown 1.5 percent in each of the last two years, the city has maintained its Triple A bond rating, the crime rate is down and people are talking about Norwalk, he said.

The city will save millions of dollars because the Norwalk Federation of Teachers agreed to the state health insurance plan, which has the added benefit of protecting the city from a catastrophic claim, he said.

Rilling said he had reviewed the list of goals he set out when he announced his reelection bid in January,

“I kind of got a chuckle in that the things I said we want to do next term, a lot of them we have already accomplished, from the time of January to now,” Rilling said, citing investments in schools, the health plan, the library parking and a city-wide parking study.

“Probably within the next week and a half to two weeks, we are going to be releasing our recommendations for the housing study that we just had,” Rilling said, referring to a study focused on people who earn between $35,000 and $65,000 a year. “…We don’t want them to leave. We want to be able to have people stay in Norwalk, we don’t want to have people forced out of Norwalk, we want them to stay in our community.”

The city will be forming a blue-ribbon panel on African American and Latino affairs, he said, adding that the city reached out Thursday to the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to see if there is money available for businesses affected by the construction of the Walk Bridge.

“I look forward to a strong, strong campaign where we can continue to elect the people who have worked so hard for the city of Norwalk,” Rilling said.

Afterwards, Morris told NancyOnNorwalk that he is moving ahead with getting signatures to challenge Rilling in a primary.

“I did not expect to win tonight,” Morris said.

Asked about the lack of support from outside District B, Morris said he had expected the people who abstained to vote for him.

Among the five abstentions was NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams.

“We call each other all the time, we talk… she has been a wonderful, wonderful collaborator,” Rilling said as part of his speech.

Rilling faces a challenge from independent Lisa Brinton Thomson, as well as from the Republican Party: the Republican Town Committee meets Monday to endorse a mayoral candidate. RTC Chairman Andy Conroy is set to take Rilling on, should his party endorse his candidacy.

10 comments

Donna July 21, 2017 at 9:35 am

A man was shot to death in South Norwalk last night while Rilling accepted his party’s endorsement and praised his own accomplishments. Not far from where the man was shot–near the location of the proposed South Norwalk magnate school–is the proposed location of a Bureau of Prison Reentry Center for Federal offenders. Although the Zoning Department was kept in the dark by the applicant, Firetree, LTD, Mayor Rilling knew going back to 2014. In other words, he was for it until he was against it.

When Rilling lists his accomplishments, he needs to also account for his failures. Firetree is the signature failure of Rilling’s tensure as Mayor of Norwalk. Firetree may be the case that lands Norwalk in the Supreme Court in a housing discrimination case. Had the Mayor been proactive, the applicant might have stopped short of purchasing the property. Anyone living in South Norwalk who believes Mayor Rilling has your back may want to think again. Rilling rolled over on the LDA, so instead of a mixed use development, we’re getting nearly one million square feet of retail. The libaray parking lot is a half million dollar lottery ticket to buy an overpriced parcel at some point in the future. Make no mistake, South Norwalk is still where the City dumps its unwanted uses.

Given last night’s fatality, I’m reminded of what the late Marion Barry’s said on his 1989 inaugural–that DC had one of the lowest crime rates in the country, “outside of the killings.”

Donald July 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

Rillling was a disaster as police chief and he is a disaster as Mayor. The sad thing is the he really seems to believe that he is doing a good job. Well Harry you are not.

Patrick Cooper July 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Harry – where did you get your facts? Grand list grew last two years? That’s interesting – I guess we’ve already calculated 17-18 then (year’s not over). Because straight from the Norwalk WEB site – our grand list growth over your previous 4 years is: 0% (13-14), -7.7% (14-15), .7% (15-16), and this past 1.5% (16-17) – for a four-year total of – minus 5.5%. So, if this year it’s up 1.5% – then it’s only down 4% over your time. Nice job. I also notice no mention of the mill rate – having grown over the same period by 12.9%. How exactly do you ask for my vote on that record? I’m waiting for the “it could have been worse” speech.

Let’s not forget all the flip flops. Care to explain fix-it-first? Care to explain no mall – yes mall? No BJ’s yes BJ’s? You take credit for the NFT moving to 2.0? I’m sure the anticipated 80 layoffs held little leverage. You take credit for the redevelopment agency? First off – redevelopment is nothing more than a scam – nice little insiders game – where the developers use easy money grants and tax abatements to zero out risk while the residents pay pay pay. I noticed not a single comment about repayment costs on your bonds.

No, for sure your legacy will be all about this disastrous mall – maybe Firetree, and the McMansion cost per housing for Washington Village – 600k per unit I hear? Italian marble in the foyer? How is that possible, unless Klaff’s is getting $15,000 for a vanity light. No, I’m sorry, you can’t invent history – it’s written – all you can do is spin it – and you do seem delusional that everything has just been fine. It seems to be a common affliction on the CC – how Mr. Simms can say Bruce has done a “fantastic job” up the state? Really? How? Where? Show me the money.

Let’s also not forget the democratic party’s penchant for crying racist! One wonder’s why the “working party” would support a BOE bid for Mosby – who claimed it, or our other Dis-B Dem candidate Bruce Morris – who’s currently suing the city he wants to lead for much the same BS. And Harry is silent on these issues – maybe just quietly looking at Town-House brochures from “Boca Del Vista FL” where he’ll soon be spending the fat pensions he’s rung up care of Norwalk. When will we hear you tell your democratic party race-baiters to cut it out? Tell me when?

Speaking of when:

When do you plan on fixing the dysfunctional planning & zoning that creates mess after mess? When are you going to disband the redevelopment agency that acts as a fluffier for outside developers, and gives us things like POKO, and Waypoint whining for more freebies. When are you going to enforce statutes (you were Police Chief, remember) and start shutting down all the illegal apartments (I didn’t notice – but is dish network a contributor?), and the single family 3br homes that house 18 cars and 25 people. When do you plan on getting fair assessments for commercial property or is it the job of the home owner residents to pay for the right to have these businesses in our communities – with all the NY & NJ license plates in the parking lot? When are you going to stand up for the town when it comes to the Walk Bridge, a TOD plan for Wall Street, disposition of Manressa Island? When are you going to demand that our state senators start doing something for Norwalk, not Hartford?

The answer to all the above? Never. It’s why anyone who has designs on a healthy future for Norwalk simply can’t pull the lever for you. The only inevitable future is – if Harry wins, all those vote for me signs will be quickly turned into “FOR SALE”.

Lisa Thompson, for Mayor. Think about it.

Rick July 21, 2017 at 5:05 pm

shootings help the party when you have the former police chief as mayor,it is unlikely with all the press coming from our public housing where zoning has made some bad quality of life decisions on its residents there will be any sympathy.

Bad deals were made but the Democrats will stand by them what choice do they have.

Read the arrest log plenty of guns in Norwalk,read the incident log plenty of parking violations each day this is income,not for the city but for the Parking authority.

Lets see if anyone catches this a wholesale booze dealer feet from where the last shooting took place and its not even been passed yet on Ely.

Patrick Kennedy just spoke to a crowd in Hartford ,he spoke about liquor stores in areas of housing outnumber all in any given city,fits Norwalk yet it want the city he spoke of he was generalizing .This new one on Ely will be done long before the new school Norwalk is building next door .Thats not an election point its a common sense observation.

Sue Haynie July 22, 2017 at 7:02 am

@Nancy on Norwalk. Even with an updated chart for the Grand Lust, the reality remains the same. The mill rate won’t go down, house values are stagnant, and property taxes keep increasing.

Josh Ornstein July 22, 2017 at 7:21 am

It really seems there is an tendency to apologize and explain for Rilling. Was that the case for Moccia, too?

Donna July 22, 2017 at 9:46 am

Voter turnout was low in 2015. Perhaps one in three registered voters actually turned out to vote. Rilling’s “landslide” win was more like a mudslide. Small and messy but ultimately not game-changing. If Norwalk voters don’t show up in November, they may not get the mayor they need. But they will get the mayor they deserve.

Rick July 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm

2 dead 2 critical so far today from overdoses in Norwalk today ,one would think taking the detectives off a weekend schedule was a good idea ,not for the city our police chief enjoys overtime .Shame our mayor knows nothing about running a police dept.

Besides most of the crime in Norwalk centers around the weekend.

Good thing the mall was not open today ,the city has been shorthanded all day even with overtime.

Rebel INS July 28, 2017 at 11:13 pm

Rilling is right. People are talking about Norwalk. In the same sentence as Bridgeport. Here is one Norwalk Democrat who is not in support of Rilling. It won’t be long before I stop shaving because I won’t be able to look at myself once I vote Republican.

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

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Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.