NORWALK, Conn. — Republican Norwalk mayoral candidate Andy Conroy has again accused Mayor Harry Rilling of being rudderless in his leadership of Norwalk.
The Conroy campaign on Tuesday sent out a press release titled, “Conroy Vows Clear Direction for Norwalk.”
The release said:
“Mayoral candidate Andrew Conroy (R) today outlined his vision for the future of Norwalk and drew a contrast with the current administration, which he deemed as having an ‘aimless’ approach to city government.
“‘Our city sits at a crossroads,’ said Conroy. ‘After having made significant progress in recent decades towards creating a modern, 21st century city, we are now blowing in the wind, without a clear direction for where the city should be headed. We have to take a step back to consider… what kind of a city do we want to be? What are our goals for five, ten, twenty years down the line? What do we need to do to get there?’
“Conroy added, ‘Right now, many families, businesses, and other stakeholders are worried that our city’s top leaders may not be asking the right questions. The present strategy seems to be to have no strategy at all – rudderless drift. The default is to go wherever the wind takes us, to leave developers to their own devices, and to grasp for revenue in any way possible without thinking about the consequences.’
“Conroy has served in Norwalk government for 30 plus years, holding positions that include 10 years on the Common Council, with a stint as Council President. He recently resigned his position as Chairman of the Norwalk Zoning Board of Appeals to avoid even the appearance of any conflict of interest.
“‘I am running for Mayor to ask the questions that are not being asked, and to provide the needed leadership across the city’s many boards and commissions that is currently absent,’ Conroy said, reiterating that Norwalk has ‘many experienced and highly competent members of boards and commissions that have served the city well.’
“‘Moving Norwalk towards a set of common goals will require demonstrably competent, tested leadership, and that’s what I have brought to the City of Norwalk through my experience in several positions,’ said Conroy. ‘The decisions we will have to make are just too crucial to leave to either someone without experience in city government or someone who hasn’t shown real leadership in planning for Norwalk’s future. What sets me apart from other candidates is that I can point to several successful projects in Norwalk that I have had a hand in getting accomplished. Sometimes small contributions and at other times large ones.’
“Among Conroy’s experience in city government include revising the Board of Education charter in 2001, when Conroy was Council President. This measure ended the practice of limiting real elections to the board by redefining the areas of the City served by the board and successfully going through a Charter revision.
“As a Council member he served his constituents in West Norwalk, Brookside, Rowayton and our southernmost communities by working with his Council colleagues and the Mayor to ensure their schools were brought up to code and met the BOE’s enrollment projections. Conroy ensured the upkeep of roads, bridges, and pump stations.
“‘I look forward to running a positive, ideas-based campaign about the kind of city Norwalk families want to live in,’ added Conroy. ‘I am in this race to win it, but at a minimum I want these kinds of questions to be asked and to have a conversation about what truly is in our best interests.’
Conroy on Aug. 21 sent out a press release referring to the “rudderless Rilling administration.”
Rilling has been mayor since November 2013. He is the city’s former police chief, having served in that position from 1995 to 2012. He is seeking a third two-year term.
Also in the race is State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and Rowayton activist Lisa Brinton Thomson.
Rilling responded to Conroy’s release in an email:
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Conroy thinks that this campaign for Mayor is about unfounded criticisms and not offering ideas or solutions,” Rilling said. “I’ve been going door to door and talking to the voters over the last few weeks and I’m not hearing these things. Norwalk residents are concerned about their children and the well-being of their parents, parking and traffic is always a concern, they cite progress that they can actually see. Most of all, they offer me ‘ideas’ on how we can improve the city, not vaguely worded accusations. If Andy thinks the city is blowing in the wind, he is clearly not paying attention. I have a clear vision of Norwalk being the most vibrant city in the state – a place people want to live, work, eat, shop, enjoy the waterfront and our parks. We are heading in a great direction. Under my leadership we have invested in neighborhoods, revitalized West Avenue, restarted failed and long abandoned projects on Wall Street and seen SoNo continue to grow and thrive.”