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Norwalk Council District E hopefuls explain their desire to serve

From left, Common Council President Tom Livingston, a Democrat; Ron Paladino, a Republican; and Lisa Shanahan, a Democrat.

The election is Nov. 5.

NORWALK, Conn. — NancyOnNorwalk asked all Norwalk Common Council candidates five questions. Three candidates running to represent District E responded. Here in alphabetical order are their responses:

 

Thomas Livingston

Thomas Livingston, incumbent, Democrat

Why are you seeking reelection?

“Norwalk is definitely moving in the right direction.  The grand list is growing, crime is down, and there is economic development citywide.  We are also fully funding our schools and are in the midst of a major school building program.  But there is more to be done.  As Council President, Chair of the Land Use and Building Management Committee and member of the Public Works, Planning, and Ordinance committees, I’ve learned much about the operation of the City and believe that I’ve been able to help the City constructively deal with the challenges it faces.  I am seeking reelection because I want to build upon the strong foundation we’ve laid down over the past few years to ensure that Norwalk reaches its full potential.”

What do you consider to be your most important achievement in this term? 

“The Council has accomplished a lot this past term, including fully funding the Board of Education operating budget, improving city infrastructure, and keeping taxes as low as possible.  We have been particularly successful – and I am proudest of – our efforts in environmental preservation.  With the ban on plastic bags and polystyrene and the limits on single use plastic straws, all of which I introduced, we have taken concrete steps to protect our city and coastline from plastic waste, improve our water quality, and set the pace for responsible environmental action in the state.”

What is the biggest challenge facing Norwalk and how would you address it?

“We need to build a vibrant, forward-looking, sustainable city that attracts and retains families and businesses to grow our economy and maintain stable property values while honoring Norwalk’s unique location, history, and diversity.  This includes ensuring that our schools are properly funded and quality of life issues are addressed.  We also need to: (a) promote growth and jobs that fit our neighborhoods and expand our tax base, (b) support improvements to our infrastructure, including roads and sidewalks, (c) invest in our neighborhoods and provide mobility options, and (d) promote responsible conservation and sustainability efforts throughout the City.  Through it all, we must be cognizant of the affect of our actions on the City budget in order to keep taxes as low as possible.”

What’s the most under looked aspect of your work?

“As Council President, I have worked closely with the Mayor, fellow Council members and City staff to address issues throughout Norwalk.  Through it all, my approach has always been to work with everyone – from all backgrounds and on both sides of the aisle – and listen and learn so that I can make the best decisions.  I pride myself on my ability to work with others in a non-confrontational manner and look for ‘win-win’ solutions, where possible.  As a member of the Common Council, I have not lost sight of the fact that it is not about any one individual, but about what is best for the citizens of District E and the City.”

 

 

Ron Paladino

Ron Paladino, Republican

What has inspired you to run for office?

“I am a life long resident of Norwalk, I deeply care about this city and I want to make a difference. I am a former business owner in Norwalk and most of my family lives in Norwalk. I have grandchildren in Norwalk and hope they will be part of Norwalk’s future. This city is heading down a path of what I believe is over development, overcrowding, and heavy traffic with large dense apartment buildings and a mall that I am not sure will stand the test of time. I want to be a part of smart development and a movement towards ensuring Norwalk residents can protect their investment in this city.”

What qualifications do you bring?

“I know Norwalk and have lived here my entire 60 years. I have been a homeowner for almost 40 years in this city and as a result I am truly invested and dedicated to Norwalks success. I built a successful company from the ground up and have stellar experience managing finances and a diverse background in business. I have a great ability to analyze data, apply and understand what is necessary. I’m a problem solver and I enjoy challenge. I am an excellent listener and I believe residents should work together to collaborate on our needs as a city.”

Why should people choose you over your opponent?

“I am not a politician, I’m a resident, husband, father and grandfather. If you believe Norwalk has changed and is headed down the wrong path, then I’m certainly the candidate for you. I believe the current council has voted for dense overdevelopment in Norwalk. I believe we are faced with major traffic concerns and we are losing the charm and character of the Norwalk I remember with each new development. I want Norwalk to grow but we must be smart with our development. I attend many council meetings, planning and zoning meetings and have watched many people express their concern for the same reasons as me only to have it pass through the council at the end of the meeting. I thought this was not supposed to happen, isn’t the council supposed to be MY voice, OUR voice as the legislative body for the city of Norwalk? I am running as an R but to me that R means resident, that is what I am, that is what you are, and I will work with you to make Norwalk the best city in CT today and in the future.”

What is the biggest challenge facing Norwalk?

“Overdevelopment. We are not choosing smart development and as a result our taxes are increasing and our property values are decreasing. This is a huge concern as a resident and a homeowner. Schools are overcrowded and Norwalk is becoming a big city with ugly fortress buildings, dense apartment buildings, and a mall all lacking the character and charm that attracted many people to buy homes and live in Norwalk. Norwalk is now becoming a transient city a place to rent until you figure out where you want to buy a house and live. Developers that come to Norwalk to build these monstrosities go home and home usually is not Norwalk its elsewhere where this kind of development and over development would not be permitted, that’s where they choose to live. Their only interest in Norwalk is to make money and get tax breaks. Having Norwalk too big where we are literally bursting at the seams causes many problems, the ones you can easily see are traffic, and residential roads being used as cut troughs for cars and trucks. We need to work to identify these problems before they start. Norwalk has too much overburdened infrastructure i.e. roads, sidewalks, sewer, police, fire, schools, the loss of our open space and skyline. Preservation of Norwalk’s neighborhoods would be a top priority.”

How would you address it?

“I think Norwalk government needs to stop and take a hard look at just how big they want Norwalk to become. If elected I would take a long hard look at our zoning laws and work closely to improve and protect our neighborhoods. West Norwalk, Rowayton and Brookside have some of the most unique and beautiful neighborhoods. We must work to change outdated and poor zoning laws that do not protect our neighborhoods or the character of our neighborhoods. I will strive to be a strong voice for the people of Norwalk. If elected, I will hold the mayor accountable by doing right by the citizens of Norwalk. I will work to represent YOU.”

 

 

Lisa Shanahan

Lisa Shanahan, Democrat

What inspired you to run for office?

“My work on the Norwalk Conservation Commission and the Norwalk Land Trust has shown me the City of Norwalk on a granular, neighborhood by neighborhood level.  We live in a beautiful and historic City.  I have been inspired by my broadening appreciation of my hometown to pair my deeper knowledge of the City with my leadership experience and legal background to dedicate my time and expertise in service to our City.  I think that Norwalk is on the right trajectory for healthy and exciting growth and I want to work on behalf of my District and the City at large to continue this growth in a sustainable way.  To that end, I have absolutely enjoyed the campaigning process where I have had a chance to meet many individuals in District E to hear directly how they view our City and its progress.  I look forward to continuing these conversations with my District on a regular basis.”

 

What qualifications do you bring?

“Both my legal career and volunteer work has given me proven executive and leadership skills.  I developed strong negotiations skills during my legal career and subsequent mediation training. This experience and skill set has prepared me to analyze and work through difficult issues on behalf of our District and our City.

“I grew up in Norwalk and attended local schools.  After I graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, I joined the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago where I worked until the birth of my first daughter, after which I moved over to The Northern Trust Company.   I came home to care for my children in the late 90s.  When my children started school, I relaunched myself as an “uber” volunteer where I worked for a number of civic, charitable, and school organizations.  After my family returned to Connecticut in 2007, I relocated my volunteer career here to Norwalk.  I have served on a number of boards that serve Norwalk, including Shakespeare on the Sound, the Rowayton Library, and the Rowayton Gardeners.  I have held officer or leadership positions on most of these boards.  Most recently, I was appointed in 2019 to the Norwalk Conservation Commission and I continue to sit on the Norwalk Land Trust.  For the Norwalk Land Trust, I am spearheading a first of its kind urban conservation mapping project for the City of Norwalk which has provided me unique insight into our City that I think will help me tremendously in helping plan Norwalk’s future.”

 

Why should people choose you over your opponent?

“My training as an attorney and mediator, as well as my experience as a Norwalk community volunteer, makes me an excellent candidate for Common Council.  I have the skills and acumen to work through challenging situations that might arise in City governance and build consensus on the Council.  I believe strongly in working with both sides of the aisle to reach decisions where both sides feel heard and properly responded to.  I am used to working long hours and completing tasks in a timely and thorough fashion.  Finally, I think that it is essential to reach out on a continual basis to one’s constituents to get feedback on the decisions facing the Common Council to make sure we are representing our District’s needs and priorities.  I have knocked on several hundred doors in our District already to get to know our residents on a personal basis and plan to continue these walks to reach as many residents as I can before November 5th.  If I miss anyone who would like to meet me, I would ask that they reach out to me at www.LivingstonShanahan2019.com.”

 

What is the biggest challenge facing Norwalk?

“Norwalk is lucky to be one of the few cities in our State that is actually growing, while many cities and towns are losing population.  While this growth is welcome and exciting, growth itself brings its own challenges that we need to meet.”

How would you address it?

“Cities must attract young families and good paying jobs to foster and sustain healthy growth, or else their tax base shrinks and ages to an unsustainable level. To attract and retain young families, we need to invest in our school systems, both by supporting educational programming and updating our schools’ physical plants.  It is important to work with local business leaders and colleges to train our citizenry and promote good paying jobs in our city that will grow into good careers that fit our neighborhoods and increase our tax base.  Perhaps most importantly, we need to budget in a fiscally responsible way so that we continue to invest in our infrastructure and provide needed services while not letting either our residents’ or businesses’ taxes and fees rise unduly thus putting pressure on our young families or long term residents ability to meet those burdens.  Finally, this growth must keep reasonable conservation values in mind when considering development so that we keep the quality of our life at a high level by improving our parks, walking and bike paths and open spaces for sustainable conservation.”

 

Also seeking District E votes as a Council candidate is Republican Peter Bondi. 

One comment

Scott Vetare October 24, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Let’s get rid of the “Same old same old” b.s. and start fresh! Ron and Pete Bondi are energetic people who have a concern for the residents of Norwalk! They won’t just vote YES because the Mayor said to!

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