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Thomson announces bid to be Norwalk mayor

A screengrab from the Lisa for Norwalk website.

Updated, 6:18 p.m.: Comment from Mayor Harry Rilling; updated 5:15 p.m.: Comment from James Cahn; deadline for signatures.

NORWALK, Conn. – Lisa Thomson’s Norwalk mayoral campaign will “focus on protecting neighborhoods, growing the grand list, and professionalizing city government.”

“A firm believer that partisanship is getting in the way of governance, she will petition onto the November ballot as an unaffiliated candidate,” a Tuesday morning press release said, announcing that “18 Year Civic Leader Lisa Brinton Thomson” is running for mayor.

“We have been aware of her intentions for quite some time so this is not surprising,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in an email. “Norwalk is a city on the move. People throughout the state and beyond are talking about the positive changes in our community from our economic development, to our growing grand list and our historically low tax increases. I believe the citizens of Norwalk are pleased with the progress we have made during the last four years.”

Thomson formed an exploratory committee several weeks ago; her candidacy for mayor was confirmed last week by the Secretary of State’s office after Thomson obtained petitions to get on the ballot.

“She has until 4 p.m. on August 9 to obtain 133 signatures,” Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State Tina Prakash said last week. Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said Tuesday that Thomson has not yet brought in filled out petitions.

“We plan on turning in out signatures soon and don’t foresee any issues qualifying,” said James Cahn, Thomson’s campaign manager.

Thomson would join an already crowded mayoral contest, with Republican Town Committee Chairman Andy Conroy up for an endorsement from his party, and State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) promising to challenge Rilling in a Democratic primary.

There’s also a rumor that the Scott Merrell, a.k.a. the Rowayton Cowboy, is going to throw his Western-style hat in the ring.  McQuaid said no papers have been filed.

Thomson is widely known as an education reform advocate, the co-founder of the group Red Apples. Recently she switched her attention to Zoning regulation reform. Last fall, Thomson, Goldstein and activist Diane Cece formed a Political Action Committee, Norwalk First, in a successful drive to oppose two of the four charter revision questions on the ballot.

The press release put Thomson’s biography and mayoral ambitions this way:

“For the past decade, Lisa has been a leader in efforts to reform planning & zoning and public education.  Last fall, she drove the Norwalk First campaign advocating for real charter revision.  She specifically targeted controversial land use issues and repeated litigation with taxpayer money.

“Over time, she has noticed the City’s inability to keep pace with the increasing financial burdens imposed by the local, state, and federal governments. ‘I am convinced that Norwalk is not leveraging its many strengths effectively, and that changes are needed.’

“A self-described pragmatist, her campaign will be based on her desire not to hope for miracles, but to face the economic reality of situations and to use the city’s best efforts to control those things that it can.

“She said, ‘I am excited to be able to roll out activities over the coming months to introduce myself to the citizens and neighborhoods of Norwalk, to listen to their concerns, and let them know that help is on the way in the form of affordable, effective changes to the way the city is run.’

“Though much of Norwalk knows her as Lisa Thomson, Lisa will be running under her maiden name—Brinton, because that is the name that appears on the voter rolls.

“Brinton Thomson’s professional career began over 25 years ago and includes 20 years in various executive positions with AT&T/Lucent Technologies, working in both the US and abroad and as an independent management and communications consultant working with Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations.

“After moving to Norwalk and starting a family, Lisa initiated an 18- year career in civic engagement by becoming active in education, including becoming a co-founder of Red Apples. In addition to her efforts outlined on her Lisa For Norwalk website, she currently runs her own tutoring and after school program, Student Newshounds, aimed at increasing writing proficiency and more recently, the debating skills of students in the Greater Norwalk area.  Her attendees have included students from most Norwalk schools.

“She feels that her long residency in Norwalk, her understanding and promotion of its potential, as well as her initiative and drive to take on challenging tasks, make her a well-qualified candidate to address the City’s issues.

“Lisa has lived with her two sons in Norwalk for almost 20 years.  Both boys graduated from Brien McMahon High School. More information is available on her website, lisafornorwalk.org.

Thomson’s team is bipartisan.

Cahn ran unsuccessfully for Common Council in 2015 as a Republican and was slated to become a Zoning Commissioner in 2016 before Democratic Mayor Harry Rilling withdrew the appointment. Rich Sanders is her campaign communications director. Third Taxing District Commissioner Deb Goldstein is Thomson’s treasurer; Goldstein switched her party affiliation from Democrat to unaffiliated on June 16, according to Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells.

“I support Lisa’s run for Mayor because she’s my good friend,” Cahn said in a text message. “As a voter, though, I support Lisa because she’s a serious, professional, thoughtful candidate. She really sees the potential in Norwalk and is frustrated that our existing, aimless status quo prevents us from being all that we could be. She wants to change that and I believe she can. She’s non-partisan, trustworthy, and can be counted on to be accountable.”

Lisa Thomson is a former Board member of Chapman Hyperlocal Media Inc. 

16 comments

MarjorieM July 18, 2017 at 11:08 pm

The definition of arrogance is to start at the top, not work your way up the political ladder.

Tony P July 19, 2017 at 12:14 am

I mean, totally relatable to your average Norwalk voter -insular Rowayton resident who has been retired for 11 years who has no formal training in education, urban planning or political science, who claims to be an educational champion, planning and zoning activist, and running for top political office. But I suppose its ok – shes working on her Public Admin degree. Man, I need to get into the private sector where anyone can do anything….

Wineshine July 19, 2017 at 7:29 am

Marjorie’s comment says it all. This is why we’ll forever be mired in this political swamp in Norwalk. No desire to entertain fresh thoughts and direction. Just same old Norwalk.

MarjorieM July 19, 2017 at 9:55 am

This is exactly what everyone said about Trump, and look at the mess we are in now. Yes, this is the local level and not the national level, but let us not forget Lisa’s full backing for Manny Rivera. That was a huge mistake. Look at the budget under her Red Apple support for Adamowski. You will get change if she is the mayor, but it won’t be the change you want.
And now you will hear from her cheerleaders…..

Donna July 19, 2017 at 10:42 am

Very healthy for Norwalk to have several candidates interested in the top spot. The path to the Mayor’s office need not be paved in degrees or professional resumes. Often our best candidates are those who have toiled as neighborhood and City volunteers and community organizers. Norwalk is lucky to have energized and dedicated people working to improve the City. I disagree with Marjorie that you have to work your way up the political ladder. Sadly, that process just makes you a politician. It does not make you a leader.

Patrick Cooper July 19, 2017 at 11:59 am

Lisa Thompson will change the tone and tenor of this election, IF the notoriously partisan DTC and RTC will engage. 2 parties and no ideas. What Lisa describes as her platform is nothing short of a love letter to Norwalk taxpayers – especially those who live in single family homes and maybe have kids in the schools. There’s no cure for stupid – so it’s a relief that Lisa brings not only intelligence, but expertise and experience – especially navigating the crony-committee political structure that is old and disfunctional Norwalk.

Anyone who has followed NON knows MargorieM well – it’s a foregone conclusion she’s in Bruce’s clown car. Anti-reform – she hates Lisa because of the Red Apples. I can’t believe her fake-name isn’t Granny Smith.

Listen up Norwalk: If your alive enough to fog a mirror, you know now – perhaps more than ever before – that elections have consequences. If you look at the candidates currently on the slate – when it comes to mayor – there is only one – Lisa – who will do what is right for ALL of Norwalk.

Lisa – you have my endorsement, my vote, and my support.

Bill Nightingale, Jr July 19, 2017 at 11:59 am

This sure sounds good to me: “focus on protecting neighborhoods, growing the grand list, and professionalizing city government.”

It sure beats the Democrats circling up to give developer Kinol a big property tax break (enterprise zone) in return for political contributions. That is unforgivable.

Good luck Lisa!

anna russo July 19, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Good to hear! Her platform is definitely what Norwalk should be striving for.

Harry “…our historically low tax increases.” But yet they are still going way up for what? To pay for the mosque? The library parking spots? And other develop related shambles that leave us holding the bag? No thank you – forward thinking – no more political favors (can you say “campaign contributions”?)

Karen Doyle Lyons July 19, 2017 at 11:11 pm

Ms Britton as she has said her name is on many records came to Norwalk in 2000. From NJ. She has been an unaffiliated voter many times and a Democrat many times..
What are her policies? I don’t know her?

Sue Haynie July 20, 2017 at 5:05 am

Norwalk has historically high property taxes too.

Taking credit for an ‘historically low tax Increase’ is not the best of campaign slogans.

Angel July 20, 2017 at 6:49 am

@MarjorieM, I do not know Lisa nor the work she has done, but hiring Manny Rivera and Steve Adamowski was the BEST decision made for Norwalk and the school system. If this is just a snapshot of what she will do for Norwalk, the. She has my vote! Finally good things are happening in our public schools thanks to the BOE and Central Office leadership!

Rick July 20, 2017 at 11:59 am

Karen Lajoies changes the names on meadow st all the time to gain more allowable emittance of pollution into the air according the the EPA ,sounds like if you want to help lets go after the bad guys first before we challenge a name of a resident who you don’t know.

In fact I have many names for your party to check out who under various names like Stantec the company the democrats have embraced to work for the city,with all the screens you have maybe something interesting on million dollar contracts will pop up where the bills were utimately decided in court.They failed to provide professional services .Mow thats a name Stantec Id be willing to say is someone Norwalk doesn’t really know.

MarjorieM July 20, 2017 at 9:40 pm

Angel, do you remember that Rivera spent grant money , and lots of it, illegally? Adamowski had to clean that up. Adamowski is spending more tax dollars than any other superintendent in history. If that’s okay with you, good luck when he leaves and nothing has really been accomplished. It takes 3-5 years of test scores to prove student achievement is rising. Rivera didn’t stay long enough. Adamowski still has to prove himself.

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