NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Republican mayoral candidate Andy Conroy is dropping other responsibilities to focus on his campaign to unseat “rudderless” Mayor Harry Rilling, he said.
Conroy said Sunday that he had resigned from the Zoning Board of Appeals to avoid the inappropriate behavior of criticizing a mayor he is serving under. On Monday, the Republican Town Committee, in a press release that offered Conroy’s first sharp criticisms of Rilling, announced that Conroy was temporarily stepping down as RTC Chairman.
“To replace what he calls the ‘rudderless Rilling administration’ and give Norwalk the leadership it needs ‘to protect and enhance our quality of life here,’ Republican mayoral candidate Andy Conroy announced he is temporarily stepping aside as chairman of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee (NRTC) to devote full attention to victory in November,” the RTC press release said.
“Conroy, who has held numerous leadership positions in Norwalk government over the years, said, ‘The people of Norwalk can no longer afford the aimless drift at City Hall, which has become all too obvious. We are facing big challenges that need genuine leadership. We need a better direction for Norwalk if we are to convert those challenges to opportunities,’” the release said.
Conroy on Sunday said he resigned from the Zoning Board of Appeals on July 28, the day after ZBA concluded its public hearing process on requests made by Firetree LTD.
“I thought it was inappropriate for the chairman of a major committee in the city to be negative and criticize the mayor,” he said. “I just don’t think you should serve on a major Board, particularly as the chairman, and criticize the mayor.”
This was an “ethical thing” not a “legal thing,” he said, explaining, “It was just me deciding that I want to campaign.”
Monday’s press release offered a campaign slogan, “Conroy for Mayor: A Better Direction for Norwalk,” and was titled, “Conroy aims for victory.”
Rilling, the Democratic-endorsed candidate, and Conroy, the Republican-endorsed candidate, have competition from independent Lisa Brinton Thomson and Democratic State Rep. Bruce Morris, who will both be on the ballot as petitioning candidates.
The RTC press release said, “Among the challenges Conroy mentioned was the Walk Bridge replacement project, which threatens huge disruptions for many residents and business owners. Another was ‘the imminent introduction of marijuana dispensaries in Norwalk.’”
The Zoning Commission last week approved allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the Business 1 zone, ending a moratorium in recognition of state law.
“Such dispensaries are nominally intended for medicinal purposes, which Conroy acknowledged as probably a good thing. ‘But apart from that,’ he said, ‘there’s no compelling reason why Norwalk has to be a location for these shops. Even when sanctioned by local authorities,’ he said, ‘this kind of business can have serious, unintended consequences for our school children, our property values, and our quality of life in Norwalk.’”
RTC Vice Chairman Victor Cavallo will take over the leadership of the Town Committee, the release said.
“Our very able vice chairman, Victor Cavallo, will serve as acting chairman until after we achieve victory for our slate of candidates on Nov. 7,” Conroy was quoted as saying.
“Cavallo, an attorney who has served on the Norwalk Planning Commission and other boards, has been active in Norwalk politics and a member of the NRTC for many years,” the release said. “As acting chairman, Cavallo said his focus will be on mobilizing Norwalk Republicans for the fall campaign.”