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Republicans voice optimism as both parties work on getting out vote

Norwalk Republican candidates – from left, Artie Kassimis, Ernie DesRochers, Peter Halladay, Charlie Yost, Ellen Wink, Rich Bonenfant, Mark Suda, Shannon O’Toole Giandurco and Doug Hempstead – meet Saturday morning for a rally in front of the Norwalk Inn.

The election is Nov. 7.

Correction, 2 p.m.: Charlie Yost. 

NORWALK, Conn. — Four mayoral candidates changes everything up, Common Council member Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said.

“Unlike other candidates who don’t like the leadership of our city, we have planned well. We have a very eclectic group of people that are running, a very diverse group, age group.” Hempstead said, as the first speaker at a Saturday morning Republican rally. “I think we absolutely have the best ‘Board of Ed’ candidates and the best Council candidates running for office this year.”

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story

Gathered at the Norwalk Inn to kick off a day of campaigning were Council at large candidates Mark Suda, Peter Halladay and Rich Bonenfant (an incumbent); Council in-district D candidate Shannon O’Toole Giandurco (an incumbent), Council in-district A candidate Ellen Wink, Council in-district E candidate Ernie DesRochers; Third Taxing District Commissioner Charlie Yost and mayoral candidate Andy Conroy. Also present were State Representatives Fred Wilms and Gail Lavielle, former Council member Fred Bondi and former mayoral candidate Kelly Straniti.

Across town, just a little later, Rilling campaign volunteers and staff manned the phones at Rilling campaign headquarters, with Council at large candidate Greg Burnett making his own calls.

All the Republican speakers expressed optimism and confidence as they set out their get out the vote push.

“This team right here is going to win,” Suda said.

Common Councilman Rich Bonenfant (R-At Large) cracks up his compatriots Saturday morning in front of the Norwalk Inn.

Bonenfant followed with a laugh-inducing motivational speech.

“After all this, if you are not sick, if you are not broke and your family is still talking to you, you haven’t done enough,” Bonenfant said, also calling it a great team.

Kassimis then showed the public speaking skills he has honed as a pastor.

It’s not that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, he said; it’s, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.”

“I hope that we have all learned about ourselves, about the voters about the city,” Kassimis said.

“It’s a great city. It can be better and I think with our ideas… I just think it’s time for a change at City Hall. I hope that everybody can win and we move forward for a better Norwalk,” Halladay said.

Republican mayoral candidate Andy Conroy, left, lauds the Republican slate candidates Saturday morning at the Norwalk Inn.

“All these people are successful in their own right, they are more than capable of doing a great job,” Conroy said. “Most of them have been involved in the city one manner or another and have already done a great job.”

Asked afterwards what he meant by other candidates not planning, Hempstead said, “They didn’t plan for us to be so good… I think they took us for granted. They didn’t think Andy would come on as strong as he has.”

“There was a lot of complacency,” with Democrats assuming that Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling had it in the bag, he said.

“I don’t think it’s in the bag anymore,” Hempstead said, predicting that Tuesday’s results will “be very mixed” because “having four candidates on the top will bring different results throughout the process.”

Mayor Harry Rilling shows off Democratic campaign mailers Saturday afternoon in the Waypointe complex.

Asked about that, Rilling campaign manager Jesse Hubbard said that no one on the Democratic side thought Rilling “had it in the bag.”

Rilling said he has worn out a pair of shoes while talking to voters and showed NancyOnNorwalk the number of fliers that have been put out to promote Democratic candidates, asserting, “The last thing we are saying is, ‘We got it.’”

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

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Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.