NORWALK, Conn. — Running to represent District E on the Common Council are incumbentsJohn Igneri and Tom Livingston, who are being challenged by Ernie DesRochers, a former Zoning Commissioner and former Oak Hills Park Authority chairman, and newcomer Josh Jewett.
Includes videos from the West Norwalk Association meeting
Ernie DesRochers, Republican
DesRochers has been a resident of Norwalk for nearly 26 years. He and his wife Jeanmarie DePanfilis have three children John, Stephen and Maria, who were educated by Norwalk Public Schools and went on to earn 4-year college degrees.
DesRochers holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut and an MBA, also from UCONN. He is a long-time Member of Saint Matthew Church, serves on the Board of Directors of the Oak Hills Park Men’s Association, and is a member of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee.
DesRochers is a senior real estate finance professional with more than 35 years of experience in originating and placing commercial real estate debt and equity investments throughout the United States. In addition, he has more than 28 years of business management experience, having been employed by NorthMarq Capital since 1988.
DesRochers was President of the West Norwalk Association in 1996, a member of the Zoning Commission from 1997 to 2003 (serving as Chairman from 2000-2002) and a member of Oak Hills Park Authority from September 2013 through December 2016. He was Authority Chairman from July 2015 through December 2016.
As an OHPA member, DesRochers was deeply involved in rewriting and obtaining approval of the park’s current master plan and led the effort to obtain $1.5 million in state funding for that plan. The effort has led to renovation of 11 holes, new drainage and cart paths, and the installation of a Great Lawn and Fountain Garden.
Asked for three top issues, DesRochers said:
- “High level of Taxes – City Government in Norwalk has the reputation of being big spenders and showing little in the way of value to everyday taxpayers on how that money is spent. Folks want to be treated fairly.
- “Lack of Planning –We need a plan to make Norwalk great and we need to stick to it.
- “City Hall – Folks believe that City Hall does even care about its residents. Whether its appealing a tax assessment, obtaining an approval to build something, or having a tree removed the overall customer service experience is unacceptable.”
“I have lived in Norwalk for 26 years and have dealt with issues that have affected our city,” DesRochers wrote.
“When I was President of the WNA we worked with our common councilmen to actually do things for the area. Things like 4-way stop signs can be boring but they do have an effect on the character of a neighborhood.
“On zoning we passed the village district ordinance for both East Norwalk and Rowayton. At the time only Brooklyn CT has such an ordinance. You will note that the architectural review required by those zoning regulations have had a major impact in Rowayton center.
“At Oak Hills we made major changes in the operation of that facility bringing it in to the 21st century. The master plan that we wrote not only addressed the physical shortcomings of the park but also implemented operational, management, and marketing changes that most folks do not even know that we did. The $1.5 million grant we obtained has allowed us to not only improve the golf experience but also allowed us to create a ‘Great Lawn’ and recapture the old ‘Fountain Garden.’
“I am running for Common Council because I have a record of accomplishment by doing something about the issues that we face as a community.”
John Igneri, Democrat
Igneri is a retiree who has lived in Rowayton for 32 years, is married and has raised four children, all of whom were educated by Norwalk Public Schools. Igneri has five grandchildren, two black labs and a couple of beehives. He has a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance.
“I was the President of Dreyfus Investment Advisors, a subsidiary of the Dreyfus Corporation, and commuted for 38 years to NYC,” Igneri wrote.
Igneri has been Sixth Taxing District Commissioner since 2009 was first elected to the Council in 2011.
“I’m Council President serving on the Leadership Committee with the Mayor, and the Majority and Minority Party leaders. In addition, I’m Chairman of the Public Works Committee and serve on the Finance, Planning, and Personnel committees. I also represent the Council on the Water Pollution Control Authority and I’m a member of the Manresa Steering Committee which is exploring possible economic uses of the Manresa property and the potential economic impacts of those alternatives,” he wrote.
He’s been a soccer coach and a volunteer fireman, and has worked with the Norwalk Land Trust to acquire open space.
Igneri wrote that his top three issues are:
- Controlling property tax growth
- Supporting the Board of Education
- Promoting growth in our tax base through wise development which fits into Norwalk’s neighborhoods and increases jobs
“I’m running because Norwalk is on the move again and I want to continue to build upon the strong foundation we’ve laid down over the past few years to ensure Norwalk achieves its full potential,” Igneri wrote. “My 6 years of experience has taught me how to get things done in a bipartisan, non-confrontational way. The City is now moving forward and I believe my approach will continue that much-needed momentum.”
“I’ve worked hard to control property taxes and improve residents’ quality of life,” Igneri wrote. “Through my leadership and in partnership with the Mayor, Tom Livingston, and other council members, we’ve increased development and expanded the commercial grand list by $400 million. This has helped keep property tax increases to under 2% in the last two years.”
Josh Jewett, Republican
Jewett is the founder of a small business based in Rowayton, is married and has a preschool-aged daughter.
Jewett is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former communications-satellite developer for the Air Force. He holds an MBA from the University of California, Los Angelos (UCLA) and is a former finance professional at a Wall Street firm.
Jewett wrote that he understands:
- “The unique interests and pressures of raising a young family in District E.
- “The challenges of starting and growing a business based here in Norwalk & Connecticut.
- “How to lead and influence large and diverse teams who have competing interests and incentives.”
“Already a great place to live, Norwalk still has lots of untapped potential,” Jewett wrote. “I can help us realize that potential as a strong voice on the Common Council for the interests and concerns of my friends and neighbors…. Norwalk is a special place dear to my heart. I just want to do what I can to make it a little bit better.”
Tom Livingston, Democrat
Livingston, an attorney who has lived in Rowayton for 30 years, was first elected to the Council in 2015. He’s been married for 31 years and has three children.
After graduating from Cornell Law School in 1985, Livingston worked for two New York-based law firms, one in its Stamford office. In 1993, Livingston joined The Perkin-Elmer Corporation (later renamed Applied Biosystems) in its Norwalk headquarters, and stayed until its sale in 2008, last serving as Vice President and Secretary of the company.
“Since then, I have chosen to spend more time volunteering and, to that end, have been a Venture Mentor at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute working with student and faculty ventures. I’m also an adjunct at the University of Connecticut School of Law where I help students develop counseling, negotiation, and other legal skills,” Livingston wrote.
Livingston is the Council’s Land Use and Building Management Committee chairman and a member of the Planning, Public Works and Ordinance committees. He was also a member of the Norwalk Facilities Construction Commission and was a Council representative to the Board of Education Facilities Committee meetings relating to the City’s school construction program. He is on the Manresa Steering Committee.
“I’ve learned much about the operation of the City and feel that I’ve been able to help the City constructively deal with the challenges it faces,” Livingston wrote. “…I’ve never lost sight of the need to control property taxes and to look for ways to increase the City’s tax base in a responsible manner. Equally important, I’ve been a strong supporter of our schools.”
Where to vote
To learn your district, visit the city’s website here, enter your address, and scroll down to where it says “Voting District”, where you’ll see a letter followed by a number. The letter indicates your district.