Mayor Harry Rilling, former Norwalk Police chief and the Democratic-endorsed candidate, was first elected in 2013.
I’d like to thank the voters of Norwalk for all your support and to ask for your vote for a third term. Over my first two terms we saw many successes and we continue to move Norwalk forward despite the obstacles that our state currently faces. During this time, we need a Mayor with the strength and conviction to do what is right regardless of public or political pressure, I believe my track record speaks for itself. I owe so much to this city for what it has given to me. Serving as your Mayor is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I am proud of what we have accomplished – but there is still much to do. We need to continue to focus on financial stability, education, smart economic development and maintaining Norwalk’s culture, charm and identity. I would like to detail some of the priorities and vision for my third term.
First, financial stability. As we all know, the State budget is in crisis. While other Connecticut cities and towns are on the verge of bankruptcy, close to losing their bond ratings and contemplating supplemental tax bills, we are standing strong. Standard & Poor’s recently released a report on Connecticut and cited Norwalk as one of the only towns in the state with the ability to make it through the budget crisis unscathed. This is no accident – it is a result of prudent spending, the ability to prioritize needs and make smart investments. We have and will continue to sustain our AAA bond rating despite the rest of the state struggling to get by. Protecting Norwalk taxpayers will always remain one of my top priorities. During my tenure, we have had the lowest mill rate increases in the past 15 years.
Next, education. I believe that every Norwalk student deserves a world class education. And Norwalk students deserve the best teachers and the classroom tools they need to succeed. It is my desire for people to want to move to Norwalk because of our schools and education system. In order to achieve this, during my last term, I recommended the largest investment in both the Board of Education operating and capital budgets in the history of Norwalk. I also led the charge to create a Special Education fund and I want to maintain and bolster that program. We have had great results in improving the achievement gap in Norwalk, but there is so much more that we can and will do with your continued support.
I will continue to stand with our local education institutions including Norwalk Community College. Our students need access to higher education and our city and our state need a 21st century workforce. I have forged a strong partnership with the Board of Education – we are united and working together on everything from the district’s strategic plan to improve our performance, to more efficient and timely snow removal. We need a Mayor who can continue this partnership – a Mayor who has relationships and knows how to bring people together to find solutions that raise us all.
Third, smart economic development. Creating more economic development while maintaining our way of life is important to me and our taxpayers. I take pride in the fact that while the rest of our state is losing population at an alarming rate, Norwalk is attracting people. We are also attracting developers who want to invest in our City. Why? Because they share my vision of what Norwalk is and what we can be.
We are a thriving community with an exciting and vibrant urban core and beautiful neighborhoods, each with its individual character. We need to continue to grow, but with an emphasis on smart growth. Apartments and offices will continue to grow in our urban core – with easy access to public transportation, biking and walkability. The ability to achieve this is dependent on a Mayor who is accessible, responsive and has relationships with our neighboring communities.
Finally, and most importantly, my job is to stand up for Norwalk. This is complex and sometimes leaves me open to criticism. But I am proud of the decisions I make because I know they are always based on what is in the best interest of our City, not on political pressure. I am standing up for Norwalk to ensure that the State compensates our residents and business for disruptions caused by the Walk Bridge Project. I will continue to hold the DOT and the Governor accountable. I will also stand up to developers who threaten to disrupt our neighborhoods and affect access to our public institutions.
I believe Norwalk is the greatest city in Connecticut. We are within 50 miles of the largest metropolis in the country, we have a neighborhood for every citizen – from the shore, to the woods to a vibrant urban center filled with entertainment, arts and dining, we have a diverse citizenry encompassing hundreds of ethnicities, and a range of incomes and interests. I am proud to be your Mayor and I hope I can count on your continued support.