Updated for the last time at 3:45 a.m. Jan. 23.
NORWALK, Conn. – Mayor Harry Rilling is seeking a fourth term.
Rilling “officially announced his re-election campaign” Tuesday, according to a press release. Rilling has filed paperwork with the Town Clerk’s office and will be holding a kickoff event soon, campaign communications worker Adam Wood said.
“It has been an honor to serve the City of Norwalk throughout the course of my life,” Rilling is quoted as saying in the release. “This is where I was born, grew up, raised a family, and had my career. Being Mayor is a job I never thought I’d have, but is one that I love. As Mayor, I take great pride in our city and what we’ve been able to accomplish. I am more optimistic today about Norwalk’s future than I have ever been in my life.”
Rilling already has an opponent; unaffiliated candidate Lisa Brinton announced her intention to run in December. Norwalk Republicans have not made any announcements.
“It was not unexpected for the incumbent mayor to seek another term,” Brinton said in a statement. “However, I look forward to a vigorous dialogue with the voters of Norwalk over issues that are of serious concern to them, as they may have a different opinion on the mayor’s handling of the Walk Bridge, POKO, The Revaluation, the POCD, Washington Village and Fire Tree, in addition to how prepared the city’s grand list is to support and fund the school district’s strategic operating plan.”
Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda did not reply to a request for comment.
Former Republican Common Council member Rich Bonenfant said Republicans are working on getting a candidate.
“Obviously, the objective is to get as many Republicans elected as possible, no matter how you look at it. How it’s going to shake out, I have no idea. But I know that we’ve been discussing it and we’re working on it,” he said.
Endorsing Brinton is “one of the possibilities,” he said.
Rilling’s press release states:
“The City of Norwalk, under Rilling’s steadfast leadership, has seen: record-level of funding for education services without major tax increases, a severe drop in violent crimes, and a significant commitment to community services. Norwalk is moving into the 21st century as a revitalized, modern city that is welcoming of all people.
“Since Rilling became Mayor, the city has provided the most significant Education budget increases in decades, including record funding for annual operations, and capital investments for school construction and expansion. During this time, the city has maintained top-tier bond ratings from credit agencies, allowing the city to fund these projects without having to ask taxpayers to pay a heftier price. The investment is paying dividends by rising test scores and improved academic outcomes.”
“While some communities are seeing a population decline, Norwalk’s is growing,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “Young professionals, new parents, retirees – they want to be in Norwalk. Our economy continues to perform well in comparison to other places across the state. Nowhere else in the state or country is a developer investing $600 million into a state-of-the-art retail center. The SoNo Collection will bring millions of dollars in tax revenue to Norwalk, create thousands of jobs, and be a regional go-to destination. We have a vibrant entertainment district, the best beaches and parks in the region, a top-flight school system, and the most generous elderly and disabled homeowner tax credit program in the area. Norwalk is a thriving place to be.”
“I believe we must continue investing in Norwalk and expanding on the great things we have to offer. We have secured additional land along Belden Avenue so the Norwalk Public Library can provide more resources, services, and parking. We are ushering in a new 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development that will influence future projects and development in the city. All plans will now be coordinated and complementary to create a future Norwalk that is reflective of the wants and needs of the community.”
The SoNo Collection is expected to open in October. The POCD process continues with a Planning Commission public hearing Tuesday evening.
The release states:
“Rilling’s background as a law enforcement officer and Police Chief provides a unique perspective of what first responders need to keep the community safe. Rilling has pushed for additional funding for Police and Fire which is having an impact in driving down violent crimes to historic lows. Recognizing the growing opioid epidemic that affects families of all backgrounds, Rilling remains committed to partnering with nonprofits, health care providers, local agencies, and government officials to tackle the issue head-on.
“A key priority of Rilling’s administration has been to streamline government, make it more open and responsive to the public, and refocus staff in areas that have been historically overlooked. In 2018, the first major reorganization of Norwalk government in decades was proposed by Mayor Rilling and approved by the Common Council. Resources have now been better aligned to work more closely with neighborhoods, address and remediate blight more quickly, and look towards the future of transportation and parking. Rilling looks to further strengthen City government by creating a Community Services division to help those most at-risk and in-need of support and resources. The City has also recently purchased the building at 98 South Main Street to be a home a community center the city deserves.
“During his time in office, Rilling has undertaken major projects, moved innovative ideas forward, and doubled-down on his belief that Norwalk is the greatest city in the world. Rilling, a Democrat, is seeking his fourth term as Mayor.”
“We have done so much, yet, we can do more,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “There are projects I inherited that must be finished, like the stalled Wall Street Place Development. I am committed to seeing Wall Street be a real downtown. Other projects are just beginning, such as the much-needed replacement of the 120-year-old Walk Bridge. The City has worked with businesses to mitigate the impact of construction. We have already secured above-market value replacement costs for The Maritime Aquarium that will ensure it remains one of the most visited and top-tier aquariums in the country.
“I know I am the right person to see this through and guide Norwalk into its next chapter. But, this is not about me, or legacy, it truly about the city I love. I dedicate myself to this city because it has given so much to me and continues to do so. There is so much more that I want to do for the city I love. I look forward to continuing that work and helping Norwalk expand on its already great success.”