NORWALK, Conn. – Andy Conroy took the Republican nomination for Norwalk mayor on Monday, emphasizing fiscal responsibility in tough times and talking party politics.
Conroy, Norwalk Republican Town Chairman, accepted the nomination in a meeting attended by 56 of the RTC’s 81 members, becoming the party’s standard bearer in an attempt to unseat Democratic Incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling, who is seeking a third two-year term.
Rilling is also being challenged by State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and independent Lisa Brinton Thomson.
“I am looking forward to a great campaign, not just a good one,” said Conroy, Zoning Board of Appeals chairman and a former Common Council member, as he began his remarks in the Norwalk Inn. “It’s one of those things where, we all live here, we all have different ideas of what to do what we can to fix this, some of the difficulties we have in the city, but we also have to look at a positive side. I really do mean that,” Conroy said.
He went on to laud Norwalk’s Triple A rating “all the way back to (Republican former Mayor Frank) Esposito,” and emphasize that Norwalk under Republican former Mayor Richard Moccia held onto the Triple A rating in a tough economic climate “when it was almost impossible.”
The fact that Norwalk still has that valuable rating under Rilling is “not the work of one person,” Conroy said. “That’s the work of all our Boards and Commissions, everybody in the city, our city employees and the folks who pay taxes.”
“I just hope we can straighten out the state soon, because we can’t continue on the way we are going at the state level and expect the towns to survive,” Conroy said. “Because you can’t expect you’re going to have taxes flowing our way, simply because they won’t fund things continuously at the state level. We’ve got to be able to deal with that. It’s not going to be easy, there’s going to be some hard choices to make in the future.”
Norwalk’s “good education system” is largely due to the hard work of the Board of Education and “one of the best Board of Education chair people that we have had in a very long time,” he said, referring to Republican Mike Lyons.
“I can hardly wait to hear what the city is going to have to endure when the state starts cutting funding to the city even further than they have,” Conroy said, urging support for Lyons, whose term expires in 2019, and the entire Board.
Republicans on various Boards and Commissions have done an excellent job, he said.
“This is not a one-party deal under the state statutes,” he said. “You can’t really have one party dominate everything. You’ve got to have other voices on all the Board and Commissions. We are never going to play the game of having people become unaffiliates who really are Republicans just so we can stick them on a Board, where we already have too many Republicans. We are not going to do that. We’re going to make sure that we reach out to the other party and real unaffiliates to help us work through the problems of the city.”
“We need to reach out across the city and we need to find out exactly what people are thinking in each of the areas of the city,” Conroy said.
Of “downtown redevelopment,” Conroy said, “I am now of the opinion we have gone too far. … We have got to make sure that whatever infrastructure that we have can support any additional building that we do, particularly adding a greater population to the city.”
There are deficiencies in Planning and Zoning, not in the staff members but in the systems, he said.
“We spent a lot of money on stuff that is not buying us anything,” Conroy said. “We have got to fix that. I don’t want to get in the weeds and start talking about sort of each issue in depth but there many things that we can do to get things done.”