Opinion: Voters Have a Clear Choice This November

The election is Nov. 7.

I fully realize my unaffiliated, petitioned mayoral candidacy is somewhat of a David versus Goliath campaign story in Norwalk. This is especially true when my grassroots campaign is contrasted against the better known, special interest-funded campaign of the incumbent Democrat mayor.  However, my decision to run was quite straightforward.  I’m a frustrated 20-year property owner, who is prepared to challenge Norwalk’s status quo politics, because our business as usual governance structure, regardless of political party, isn’t working. It adversely impacts the pocketbook and quality of life of residents in our great city.

My three major campaign goals revolve around the following issues:

  • Professionalizing and improving the way we manage and operate City Hall. We need real charter revision, to drive better accountability and efficiencies. Our operating and capital budgets total nearly $.5Billion. We’re overdue for restructuring our 100-year old city charter.
  • Reforming the structure and practices of our planning, zoning, ordinance and re-development organizations for a transparent, cohesive city-wide strategy that protects neighborhoods, but improves core areas like West Avenue, Wall and Main Streets and the East Norwalk and SONO corridor.  We also shouldn’t give city assets away or provide tax payer funded incentives. We need leadership that believes in our city without giveaway gimmicks.
  • Supporting small business and economic development by engaging in best practices that make Norwalk easier to do business with. We have a bad reputation in business circles.  Bureaucratic and individual city department red tape needs to be addressed.  Fix that and business will come.


Anyone who has interacted with 125 East Ave. already understands that my third objective is really related to the first.

Lisa Brinton Thomson.

For voters who don’t know me, allow me to explain myself.  I’m a retired, corporate executive and management consultant, with 25 years of experience, a three-time cancer survivor and a city-wide activist, who’s been advocating for education, planning and zoning and charter revision reforms since 2009.  As a business executive, I lived and worked throughout the US and overseas. I’ve seen a lot.  Ten years ago, health issues forced a re-examination of priorities. I retired, focused on my family, volunteered in our schools, got involved in all things Norwalk and eventually started my own small business.  Now an empty nester, one might consider this mayoral campaign a culmination of those efforts.


The state and Norwalk are at a crossroads and quite frankly, so am I.   Like many, I’ve asked myself, “Do I stay and try to fix the system or do I pack it up and leave?”  By now folks have seen, I’ve chosen the former.

Recently, I shared on my website a sobering and straightforward article about the state of Connecticut titled, How Did America’s Richest State Become Such a Fiscal Mess? I compared the state’s dysfunction with Norwalk’s own parochial politics.

Can Norwalk save itself?  Yes, but we need leadership, vision and the political will to change the steady habits choking our potential.  Voters need to demand change if they want Norwalk rid of its own brand of Connecticut political cronyism.  The next generation is choosing small-sized cities.  The leafy suburbs, often a cause for Norwalk’s own insecurity, have their own problems. Yet we have it all – a coastline, river, historic city core, great neighborhoods and open space, but we’re not realizing our potential.

This candidacy isn’t about me.  It’s about improving our city’s overall political culture and governance. This November, I’m doing my part by giving voters a clear choice.  Elections have consequences. Is Norwalk ready for change?  We’ll know in about ten weeks.  To learn more, go to LisaforNorwalk.org.

Lisa Brinton is an unaffiliated candidate for Mayor of Norwalk.


Donna Smirniotopoulos September 10, 2017 at 9:09 am

During the very short time I’ve lived in Norwalk, I’ve born witness to several messy and controversial land use quagmires:
1. GGP and their successful bid to change the LDA in order to drop a planned hotel from their project, brokered by the mayor and the RDA behind closed doors.

2. The Store-that-is-not-BJ’s application, which failed in its first iteration three years ago, but succeeded this time in spite of a Master Plan (POCD) that appeared to prohibit this development. The Mayor has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from persons who appear to be partners in this developement.

3. Firetree, with which I was intimately involved. While the ZBA voted against both Firetree applications, the applicant has rewarded Norwalk with two law suits, which will likely wind up with costly settlements, a la the Al Mandany Islamic Center, which settled with the City in 2014 for several million dollars. The great tragedy here is that in 2014–three years ago–Mayor Rilling received a letter by certified mail, outlining exactly what Firetree’s intensions were for 17 Quintard Avenue. Too bad the mayor did not see fit to sound the alarm then.

4. A bungled attempt by the Mayor and former mayor and Library Board President Alex Knopp to orchestrate a purchase option from would-be apartment developer Jason Milligan for nearly half a million dollars (that’s just the option cost) with a six year option to buy the parcel at nearly double what Milligan paid. The deal is near collapse. More to the point, the need for the deal speaks to a complete failure of our land use bodies, our regulations, charter and master plan. Had all these systems been functioning welll, Milligan never would have received the approval to develop, the City would have had a plan to revitalize and upgrade both the Library and its parking, and we wouldn’t know be hiring outside counsel to salvage (allegedly) the deal and protect Norwalk’s interests.

The common thread in all these failures? Mayor Rilling. Beneath the veneer of seeming successes (Waypointe, SoNo Collection, saving library parking), lies a string of mediocre to bad results. There is always a photo op to catalog Mayor Rilling’s triumphs. But the photographs never tell the whole story. Undoing a mess after the fact is NOT a triumph. It’s a failure. And it’s the definition of Dysfunctional–or what I like to call ass-backwards–government.

I wish Lisa luck. She is the only candidate to articulate a common sense leadership plan focusing on the areas that bedevil this city–poor management, unclear or outdated regs, a charter in desperate need of revision, and an existing Master Plan that is the master of nothing because no board appears to feel bound by its language. I am hopeful that after last year’s failed attempt to alter the charter with self-serving changes, the most notable of which was increasing the Mayoral term length to four years, effective 2017, the voters got woke. I hope they stay woke through November.

Josh Ornstein September 10, 2017 at 9:11 am

I’m supporting her. Mayor Knopp, I mean Moccia…er no, that’s not it…the guy with the big scissors {…} …Rilling! He’s basically giving away our city for campaign donations.
Editor’s note: This comment has been edited to remove a violation of the comments policy. This is a violation that merits banning the poster. That is a policy that will be enforced should the commenter make this violation again

Rick September 10, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Its like the storms coming up the coast, after each storm over the years lessons were learned when it came to construction. Build them better build them stronger.

Yet in Norwalk they build them cheaper just ask anyone who has seen the new construction in Norwalk.

Politicians are like storms they come do their damage and lessons are learned but not in Norwalk,

The new thing trending in Norwalk is not to address any more problems in Norwalk until after the election.

If you take all the things on hold or in court or has some significant impact on residents or taxpayers its on hold until after the election.

The contamination on Day st is growing,a certain few are privy to your eyes only type of game keeping the info out of the news.

Homeless was cured, crime is down , Sono collection has saved Norwalk, the council is working hard on all issues, Departments need no leader , soon we wil hear studies the wall st train station, library wil have parking ,fire dept gets new equipment to fill new stations or remodeled ones, police will get training on how to deal with overtime.

So if some one new wants to try and upright a lost city give Lisa a second look who had already bought into a trend who Voted for Duff Rilling Himes or Murphy.

I can only ask why? What have they done?

Patrick Cooper September 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Compare this very succinct and clear direction with our current local administration. Is anyone else tired of a city that lurches and stumbles through one self-inflicted crisis month after month, with virtually zero growth in the grand list? Now the last election had charter revision on the ballot care of the mayor – forget those four changes – it’s REALLY Important that Norwalk taxpayers realize the changes that were NOT even considered – point one from Lisa – professionalize our city government. The political status quo has got to go!

I get the typical verbiage – “reform” – but this seems to be more like evolving into a government we should have been 15 years ago. Support Lisa – get friends and other Norwalk stakeholders involved – and give her message careful inspection. Lisa Brinton Thomson is the fresh leadership that Norwalk needs. Elections have consequences – be smart.

Rick September 10, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Any chance of seeing who has bought GGP or Stantec stock?

If the city or any elected official has that stock it would be great to see before the next election.

from now on before the election should be spoken in all council meetings.

Debora Goldstein September 10, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Rick, no way to know unless holdings in a particular company exceed 5%. What would be interesting, and i truly don’t know, would be to know whether there is a policy forbidding employees and electeds and appointeds from holding stock that would produce a conflict of interest.

Rick September 10, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Harlin Public ,,,,why so many calls for noise complaints in one weekend?

Maybe the city should get an update o the ordinance law and the progress it made? or didn’t make. Be a shame the city would fail on this issue before election time.

A sub station at Waypoint and maybe better security at the South Norwalk train station would be an interesting subject .

Cant take care of the train stations we have why add another?

Paul Lanning September 10, 2017 at 7:55 pm

I’ll vote for Lisa, because Norwalk isn’t fulfilling its potential and it doesn’t have to be this way.

Wall Street has been a sludge pit for at least 40 years. Now we’ll be paying for the failure of the renovated 1000-capacity Globe Theater–just look at the measly schedule of events that won’t sell enough tickets to pay back the loans.


Maritime Motors was a first-rate car dealership, but they were kicked out so we could have a vacant property there for years.

Big municipal buses cruise around town all day long with practically no riders.

Sono is the region’s drunk-tank capitol. Most of the good retailers who were there are long gone.

Residential yard waste is picked up 3x a year, necessitating hundreds of wasteful individual car trips to the Smith St collection site every day.

Traffic laws aren’t enforced, and the taxpayers have no say about it.

And as others have mentioned, when someone decides to go against city zoning or building regs, taxpayers end up footing the bill.

It doesn’t have to be this way anymore.

Bill Nightingale, Jr September 11, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Good luck Lisa

It should not be the problem of taxpayers whether developers get their projects built at certain profit margins. There should be no taxpayer subsidies. No tax abatements. No enterprise zones. If a developer can’t build a project approved by zoning for economic reasons then he shouldn’t have tried it in the first place. He can sell the project at market clearing levels.

There should be no taxpayer bailouts. No tax breaks. We need property tax revenue in Norwalk!

Lisa gets this. Current administration does not and has the appearance of being influenced by folks such as Kinol on Loehmans Plaza. Remember, once the taxpayers subsidize one project we will have to subsidize them all. It is an awful cycle.

Vote for Lisa.

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