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Norwalk Republicans choose Brinton; Crosland promises primary

Unaffiliated candidate Lisa Brinton accepts the Republican endorsement Monday evening in the Norwalk Inn.

The election is Nov. 5.

Updated 12:23 p.m.: More information.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Republicans in a contentious vote Monday endorsed unaffliated hopeful Lisa Brinton as their Mayoral candidate – an unprecedented move.

Newly-minted Republican candidate Darnell Crosland said he will get the signatures he needs to force a primary and challenge Brinton for the endorsement.

“The Republicans really need to be commended for coming out here and endorsing an unaffiliated candidate. That’s actually quite revolutionary,” Brinton said afterwards.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story

Brinton’s been courting the Republican Town Committee for two years, Crosland commented.

“We know that we have a love affair that we now have to get in the middle of. That’s fine, we have a lot of roses to give throughout the upcoming election season, and we’ll court a lot of people,” Crosland said. “I think a lot of people are going to be in love with our candidacy and we’re the right people for the job.”

Brinton won 36 of the 51 Republican Town Committee votes cast. Crosland received nine votes, while six Republicans voted to have no candidate. The RTC has 80 members.

Crosland, a lifelong Democrat who was spurned last year in his attempt to become Judge of Probate, registered as a Republican in late April. Brinton ran for Mayor two years ago in a four-way race, coming in second to Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling with 22.4% of the vote, ahead of Republican candidate Andy Conroy’s 15.2% of the vote.

Democrats won 14 of 15 Common Council seats in that race and all four Board of Education seats.

Monday’s nominating process exposed Norwalk Republican fault lines, revealing arguments along a deep philosophical divide, that have gone on for months.

Former State Senate candidate Marc D’Amelio, left, advocates for Darnell Crosland as Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda listens.

Former State Senate candidate Marc D’Amelio, who recruited Crosland into the Republican Party, held up RTC bylaws and said that the goal is to encourage Republican candidates.

“Who fits this bill better? Someone who feels she cannot win as a Republican? Someone believes a Republican banner is a liability? … Or somebody like Darnell Crosland?” D’Amelio asked.

Crosland will open the party to younger people, he said, emphasizing that he loves Brinton it’s the Republican Town Committee.

“We have all been in that situation in life where we have made an effort to commit to someone and for whatever reason that person doesn’t want to reciprocate, they’re not willing to commit now. They’re not going to commit tomorrow. Why would Lisa buy the cow for giving her the milk for free?” D’Amelio said.

D’Amelio referred to the “shellacking” in 2017 and to last year’s Democratic domination, when incumbent State Rep. Fred Wilms lost his seat, former State Rep. Larry Cafero lost to “political neophyte” Doug Stern in the Judge of Probate race. If Wilms were willing to run for Mayor, Crosland and Brinton would be none issues, he said.

“Look, the Norwalk RTC has problems. We’re old stale and tired.  Our new ideas are few and far between. We lack imagination, community outreach, and unlike Democrats, we have alienated our young members,” D’Amelio said. “If we’re really going to change the city, we need to think outside the box and embrace new ideas with Darnell Crosland as Mayor. If you think Lisa Brinton is the answer for our party, I say you were wrong.”

Darnell Crosland, center, talks with Republican State Central Committee member Kelly Straniti, left, and Thomas Burns, right, Monday in the Norwalk Inn.

Republican State Central Committee member Kelly Straniti seconded the call for Crosland, asserting that there was new energy at Crosland’s campaign kickoff Friday. Ernie DesRochers nominated Brinton.

“Some if you feel very strongly that we should not endorse Lisa because she’s not a registered Republican,” DesRochers said. “However, given the special circumstances that currently exists, there are many of us who believe that party affiliation should not be the central reason of why we give our support to a candidate that we endorse for Mayor.”

Wilms and Board of Education member Mike Lyons think Brinton represents the best chance for victory, he said.

“As an unaffiliated candidate two years ago, Lisa did far better than veteran politicians and the community expected as she finished second in a four-person race… A strong showing by Lisa maximizes our chances of picking up crucial Common Council and Board of Ed seats, not to mention surely needed appointments to the various boards and commissions that make up our city government,” DesRochers said.

“I’m glad Marc pointed out what happened two years ago, because a three way race and you’re all going down again,” John Tobin said. “Lisa is the one that can help bring this ticket to victory, I believe. She is also a strong campaigner. Hope you all listened very carefully to the nominating speech from Mr. Crosland because there wasn’t one word about what he would do as Mayor. Not one, it was all about a tired old Republican Party.”

Unaffiliated Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton, right, accepts applause Monday in the Norwalk Inn after winning the Republican Town Committee endorsement.

“Tonight quite simply is a game changer,” Brinton said, accepting the endorsement. “With your vote, you have made it underdogs to win. You have made it possible for a new Mayor to be elected.”

“This summer, I have knocked on thousands of doors in Norwalk and all but one expressed either nervousness, frustration or outright dissatisfaction with the current administration. And that was all parties, all affiliations,” Brinton said. “Why? Because our state is in financial trouble. People are leaving, and while Norwalk has seeing growth, it’s come without sufficient tax revenue or state support, and it’s negatively impacting our quality of life.”

Brinton cited increased density, flooding issues, traffic, “POKO” and overcrowded schools.

“Homeowners have seen their taxes skyrocket, while property value stagnant and or expected to go down. They feel helpless. This administration has increased spending by $70 million while giving away millions in tax breaks to large developments,” Brinton said.

Brinton called the creation of a communications manager “irresponsible,” saying it replaced the grant writing position, and, “We used to have a healthy homeowner-rental ratio of 70/30 it’s now shifted to 50/50. Aside from the fortress apartments, once tranquil neighborhoods are littered with cars and satellite dishes, little has been done to help existing residents or small businesses mitigate the unintended consequences and city costs of a more dense and transient population.”

“With these messages, and our alliance and hard work, I’m confident there’s a path to victory for everyone in this room that’s running for office, and I’m will fight for every single one of you,” Brinton said. “Please don’t stand on the sidelines, those of you who are disappointed that I’m not a Republican, join us as we campaign because we will win. And the biggest thing we need to do is to keep Harry Rilling and a single party rule in this State and the city… it is our city and it’s our future.”

Afterwards, Brinton said she was “humbled” by the win.

“This is a lot different running with a major party backing and a coalition,” she said. “… I firmly believe a coalition is what we need to do to bring all of Norwalk together regardless of party affiliation.”

She declined to comment on Crosland’s threat of a primary.

“We are really on a precipice,” she said, calling the Republican slate of candidates “great,” with “genuine expertise” in city government, which is needed because, “We have experienced a lot of growth and we need expertise on the Council to start looking after Norwalk residents.”

19 comments

Jason Milligan July 23, 2019 at 6:19 am

I am pasting an email here that I sent to the council last night.

The vote tomorrow will be many of your legacy’s. There are so many open glaring questions about this $80 million project that are not settled and are not right.

Your conscience must be telling you to slow down. Pick a reason to pump the brakes… 

I will list several big reasons to choose from. There are many others. I am sure you will hear from the public via email and at the meeting tomorrow. Don’t let the public down just to bailout a bank and to make the McClutchy’s richer.  

Vote to table this vote until or unless a project is submitted that is “Ready for Prime Time.”

POKO never seems ready. Corners are routinely cut and the council is consistently asked to approve an incomplete, poorly designed, pile of crap. Demand better!

-This proposal gives McClutchy’s $6 million in fees.

Paxton Kinol offered to complete the project for $1 million. 

-This site plan makes Isaac’s Street a permanent One Way Dead End.

How can you approve a project with no exit?

Sure there may be ways to make the road two way, but then there would be turn around and fire truck issues. Make them fix it. Make them present a legal, functional roadway with proper entrances and exits before approving anything. 

They can redesign the road with a proper exit whether one or two way and then come back! Even if it means negotiating with me or Dias.
The exit will not magically appear on it’s own. Why approve something that we all know does not work? 

-Change the project or change the zoning? This project is 6 stories tall which is not permitted by the new CBD regulations.4 stories is the new limit on Wall Street.

How can you approve a project that we all know would require changes to the brand new zoning regulations that took a year to adopt? The existing structure, if you want to call it that, never had a certificate of occupancy. It is not legal so it cannot be legally non-conforming or grandfathered. Even if you make that big leap in logic (if you do expect a legal challenge) there is no way a brand new section that is to be built 6 stories tall could ever be considered preexisting.

The project does not and cannot meet zoning as presented! Make McClutchy redisgn a project that does meet zoning and come back before you approve it.

-This project does not provide the minimum parking requirement! It utilizes many compact car spaces that are not currently permitted by zoning. It also does not meet the minimum 100 public parking spaces that were required when the parking lot was sold for $1. It would be legally permitted and very easy construction wise to add another level of parking to the Garden Cinema garage. Going from 2 to 3 parking levels.

Make McClutchy redisgn a project that does provide the minimum parking including the public parking before approving it.

There should be big red flashing warning lights and bells going off. This project is not right and not ready. Listen to you conscience and the public.

-The council and legal department has fought hard for the current position you have put Citibank in. Citibank is in an “event of default” which only happens after a long process that starts with a “default notice” then a “right to cure” period, then mediation. 

The event of default status allows the council to terminate the LDA! Terminating the LDA claws back $4.4 million of city taxpayer cash that was given to this project. It also wipes away a sweetheart tax deal that caps the tax revenue at $175,000 for 15 years.

Passing this vote and the amendments to the LDA & LRA would reset the default clock for Citibank. Any future issue would have to start at the beginning of the default process.

-These amendments would make McClutchy the Redeveloper without putting him through the required vetting process. They gave a slideshow of some projects but did not give the most basic & required financial disclosures. 

Why is he allowed to circumvent the required vetting process? A process the city has rigorously enforced against me. It is the biggest excuse given to justify avoiding having material discussion with me.

It is another example of favoritism and uneven enforcement of rules and regulations. The few, the proud, the favored get to cut the line, avoid the rules, and feed from the tax payer trough.

Lastly, think of the Garden Cinemas…

As I write this approximately 1500 people have signed a petition (  https://www.change.org/p/norwalk-mayor-harry-rilling-save-the-garden-cinema-movie-theater-in-downtown-norwalk-ct ) in the last 24 hours to save the Cinema. It is worth exploring ideas to save the theater especially since there are so many glaring issues with the current proposal.

I have a parking lot next door. It has 137 spaces on it. It would be very easy to build a few additional levels on the parking lot that would solve parking for the area and it would be one way to save the Cinema. There are many other ideas.

Vote to table this bailout. Make them come back when it is “Ready for Prime Time”!

You deserve better and the people of Norwalk deserve better.

Mike Mushak July 23, 2019 at 7:29 am

Why smart voters on both sides of the aisle in Norwalk will vote for the awesome and diverse Democratic ticket in November that reflects who and what our great city truly is about:

1) Democrat Mayor Rilling and the Democratic Council have pulled a trifecta of lower taxes, increased services, and improved management.

2) Democrat Mayor Rilling and the Democratic Council have supported the BoE and invested hundreds of millions in rebuilding our schools and athletic facilities, making Norwalk the top urban school system in the state the last two years.

3) Democrat Mayor Rilling and the Democratic.Council have increased our grand list by a record 16% helping lower tax rates across the city while increasing investment in our schools, parks, roads, and essential services.

4.) Democrat Mayor Rilling and the Democratic Council have rolled up their sleeves and tackled solving major problems that have plagued Norwalk for decades including flooding issues, water and air quality, noise, blight, zoning reform, affordable housing choices, street paving, and a shortage of safe ADA compliant sidewalks and biking facilities.

5.) Sadly, the once-principled Republican Party has been taken over by the racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-environment, anti-immigrant, anti-education, anti-healthcare, divisive, and corrupt Donald Trump, who is bankrupting America both financially and morally as he destroys our alliances and reputation around the world, all while he makes himself and his billionaire friends richer on the backs of the poor and middle class.

Lisa Brinton now has her coveted Republican Party endorsement, and Norwalk voters will decide in November if they want the reactionary and racist party of Trump in charge of our great city, along with Lisa’s reactionary ill-informed and sophomoric anti-growth and anti-jobs platform that will deny to struggling Wall Street the same planning solutions that helped revive our vibrant and beloved SoNo, and that helped increase our grand list by an astounding 16%.

I say vote pro-jobs, pro-schools, and pro-investment to keep the exciting positive momentum going in Norwalk, and vote “D” across the board in November for the awesome diverse Democratic ticket of highly-qualified and dedicated candidates we enthusiastically endorsed last night!

Bryan Meek July 23, 2019 at 8:29 am

Statistics matter. 51 voters have statistical significance. The last GOP primary was in 2012 for President. 1100 voters showed up.

A 99% confidence interval for that size represents a 17% margin of error.

So there is a 99% chance that last nights body politic got it right within 17%.

The vote was 71% to 17% with 12% abstaining.

Asking $60k from taxpayers to administer a primary with these results at the same time saying you want to be part of the team?

SMH.

DrewT July 23, 2019 at 10:17 am

I am so glad that Lisa Brinton has been endorsed by the Norwalk RTC! This is a great NEW Day for us in many levels. It shows that we can put politics aside and support what is truthfully BEST for our City!! And this is what Lisa brings. It shows that maybe doing what’s best for the City is much more important then the letter next to the persons name. Don’t get me wrong I am proud member of the RTC since I joined. But sometimes we need to do the right thing . And this is an example of the New RTC and putting our City first! That my friends is what makes an fantastic organization! We also have a great Slate Of Candidates running as well. And I am looking forward to once again campaigning and helping our members get elected. I hope everyone puts the letters aside and votes what is truly the best candidates for the office they are running for. We have those candidates and it’s going to be lead by Lisa Brinton as the NEXT MAYOR OF NORWALK!!
And one last comment: As was noted in the video I was not present last night for the convention. I did however send a letter to the entire RTC supporting Lisa and my opening was..I wish I could be there in person but I am away on VACATION! Which as an FYI who called me and others out had been planned since February. I guess it’s kind of like the Debate he missed because of business.

john flynn July 23, 2019 at 10:59 am

Forcing a primary could either split the votes and ensure a gigantic loss or unite Norwalk behind what it needs. The vote was 9 to 29, I was one of the nine. We have an opportunity to endorse a Republican Afro-American qualified as a Defense Attorney to stop organized crime. We need a primary to bring the Issues to light. There are 26 issues; they all hinge on the quality of life.

Bryan Meek July 23, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Mushaks logic and math make about as much sense as his bike lane to no where on Belden ave.

To actually hit a trifecta, you have to win all three bets. Let’s see….

1. Taxes levied since are up double digits under the current administration. You can take Mushak’s word for it or you can reference our city’s latest annual report, which is a legal document. $313 million versus $282 million. A much larger jump than the population growth of 1.4% in the same time.

2. Increased services? Certainly true for out of town visitors to the beach. I’ll give you that one. Not sure about the people bailing water out this morning for streets that never used to flood when DPW did things like cleaning drains instead of stealing political opponents lawn signs.

3. Improved management? Not sure I can find one measured result of the added layers of government or 7 headcount added to general government in the last 4 years, but I guess we’ll have to take Josh Morgan’s word for it.

https://www.norwalkct.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/14118

Stopped reading after the hilarious trifecta comment, but I’m sure its all the same personal insults and usual diatribe allowed on this site.

Ricky Bobby Jr July 23, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Has Darnell Crosland ever said he supports or believes in any policy or belief of the Republican Party? I didn’t hear anything at all that he supports or believes in anything here, so I am left wondering.

Andrew July 23, 2019 at 2:05 pm

“Democrat Mayor Rilling and the Democratic Council have pulled a trifecta of lower taxes, increased services, and improved management.”

Still cracks me up. Thanks again for the laugh. Needed that today

Rambo July 23, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Crosland and his “nominator” Damelio have one thing in common. They both get crushed in every election that are involved in. Damelio’s speech was absurd, pathetic, and cringeworthy. Why is that guy even a member of the RTC if he thinks so poorly of his own party? Crosland better get ready to get annihilated in a primary against Lisa.

Patrick Cooper July 23, 2019 at 3:28 pm

My congratulations to the local RTC for endorsing Lisa Britton for Mayor. Lisa has been an activist in Norwalk for as long as I can remember – starting with the schools. She knew long before it became evident to me – that “party” and identity politics has been a disaster for Norwalk.

The central message of Lisa’s platform is – there is no D or R way to pave a road, fix a sidewalk, or educate a child. What this city needs now, critically – maybe more than ever – is professional management and a city staffed by capable individuals. The meritocracy of ideas – national best practices – benchmarking – but absolutely not party orthodoxy. It is time for the most political Norwalk mayor in my lifetime to retire.

I believe the current RTC knows that above all else – including party affiliation – it is time for this city to have a new leader – with a very different vision. It is why – difficult as this was – they choose an UNAFFILIATED candidate to represent them in November. Would the DTC even listen to a proposal for a different D leader? A different approach? No chance – they are the party of no. Follow. Stay in line.

Mr. D’Amelio in his comments last night talked about loyalty and commitment. He was referring exclusively to the republican party. He is a really good guy – successful as all get-out, and passionate about what he believes in. That said – here, he is lost, and continues to demonstrate the worst kind of political instincts. Party loyalty is not going to return to me the 30% loss of my home value that has happened in the 6 years of Harry and his cronies policies.

MY loyalty and commitment is 1st to my family. My loyalty and commitment is 2nd to my city. The loyalty and commitment to the republican party takes a way-back 3rd seat in my wagon – and that’s what I believe should be the order of priority for any and every taxpaying resident of Norwalk.

Rusty Guardrail July 23, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Apart from lacking any qualifications for being Mayor, Mr. Crosland is a shameless opportunist.

In 2012, as defense counsel for a client ultimately convicted for drug dealing and soliciting prostitution, Mr. Crosland libeled Norwalk in the national media. His lies disparaging Norwalk on behalf of Tanya McDowell were published in the papers and on TV.

Now at a potential turning point for our city government he steps in as a spoiler. If enough people fall for his hollow rhetoric, we’ll get another 2 years of Rilling.

CAROL July 23, 2019 at 6:12 pm

so glad the rtc endorsed lisa,they will now get me back and do whatever it takes to MAKE LISA OUR NEXT MAYOR.

Tysen Canevari July 23, 2019 at 10:18 pm

Mushak You are a funny guy! I voted for Trump and pay $2000 a month for insurance with a $12000 a year deductible! Not sure what Trump has to do with Lisa or Harry. Wait, are you one of those democrats that want to give illegal aliens insurance and entrance into Uconn? Lol Silly of you Mike

Steve B July 23, 2019 at 10:39 pm

Congratulations to Lisa!

I hope that Mr. Crossland remembers his childhood lessons of good sportsmanship, congratulates Lisa, and shelves the selfish and wasteful idea of a primary. Now is the time to gear up and hammer the Norwalk Democrats who are slowly asphyxiating our city with their poor policies, tax increases, lack of transparency, and increasingly bloated city government.

As for Mr. Mushak’s fact devoid response, I do hope that voters are tired enough and frustrated enough to not be distracted by his ramblings of “orange man bad, republican = racist nazi” diatribes. This local election is about a coalition of Norwalk citizens working torwards a reasoned and principled local government. This is not the election to continue a single party system here in Norwalk that is beholden to the Democrat party overlords in Hartford and other special interest groups who are taxing and spending this state to death.

Sue Haynie July 24, 2019 at 8:51 am

Congratulations Lisa!

Glad to see the RTC endorse an unaffiliated/independent Woman for Mayor of Norwalk. Groundbreaking

Lisa for Mayor! Lisa has the energy, vision, enthusiasm, fiscal conservatism that Norwalk needs.

Texan1 July 24, 2019 at 11:20 am

OMG. THANK God. Lisa has run on her own before. Mr. Crosland jumps from one party to another simply because he couldn’t get the nomination as a democratic. A leopard can’t change its spots that easily. And especially when you have to get the promise from am opposition party to guarantee they will put you on as top banana. Politics games as usual. Disgusting! Good luck to Lisa. Time for a MAJOR change.

Texan1 July 24, 2019 at 2:05 pm

OMG. Changes parties and still loses. BooHoo. I think many people in Norwalk see through Mr.Crosland for what he appears to be – a sore loser.

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