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Opinion: We can keep the momentum going

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling.

I have spent my entire life in public service to our city and country, but there has been no greater honor than being your Mayor. It has been a privilege that Norwalk voters have put their trust in me to lead our city forward. Being Mayor isn’t easy and is a commitment I take very seriously. There is no such thing as a perfect Mayor or a perfect decision, but I love the job, I am energetic and passionate, and I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together.

Since first taking office in 2013, we have made investing in education and school infrastructure a top priority. These historic investments in Norwalk schools, students, and families are paying off. We are building new schools and renovating existing spaces. Norwalk Public Schools are again ranked first on the state education report card, significantly outperforming the state average.

The Grand List has grown by $2.5 billion since I have been in office. We’ve worked hard to shift the tax burden off of working families. The SoNo Collection just opened and will be a go-to regional destination for decades and will provide millions of dollars in new tax revenue. All across Norwalk, new businesses are opening, new good-paying jobs are becoming available, and new housing options are being constructed. People are investing in our community as never before. They are moving their businesses here, they are moving their families here, and they are making Norwalk their home.

We have worked hard to make our community safer for everyone. We have improved 911 response times by 40 percent, added additional School Resource Officers, and reduced serious crime in every neighborhood. We continue to provide the tools necessary to combat the growing opioid crisis that affects too many families. I believe firmly that our first responders are the cornerstones of our great city.

We have invested millions into services and infrastructure that were neglected for far too many years. Through strong financial management, we have kept taxes and spending under control. We have healthy cash reserves and superb credit ratings that allow us to invest wisely. This last year, we were able to lower the mill rate, and in turn, lower taxes for most single-family homeowners in Norwalk.

We have done a lot over the last six years. If I am fortunate enough to be your Mayor for another two years, there are a few more things we’d like to get accomplished.

  1. We will expand and renovate the Library to become a model for all public libraries in the country. It would provide additional public spaces that will be a jewel of the area and an anchor of future economic development.
  2. We will continue investing in our school operations and facilities because the future leaders of tomorrow are in Norwalk schools today. We will open new state-of-the-art schools and keep our classroom sizes reasonable to ensure all students can be successful.
  3. We will continue to invest in technology, and move the city’s permitting process online to make things more convenient for residents and business investors. The system will be streamlined to incorporate all the new zoning changes we are undertaking and will be consistent with our 10-year strategic plan – the Plan of Conservation and Development.
  4. We will continue smart development in the Urban Core and near train stations to increase employment opportunities and reduce tax burdens on homeowners. We will invest in a new Small Business and Main Street Program to help support our local businesses and enhance residential quality of life.
  5. We will further develop our new community services department to improve services and programs for youth, seniors, and veterans. Norwalk’s diversity is one of our greatest strengths and we will work hard to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.

I work for you – the residents of our great city. Some believe Norwalk is on a downward spiral, and that there is nothing good happening here. I could not disagree more. From reducing crime to providing jobs and a strong financial outlook to a great school system – Norwalk is a city on the rise.

I do not feel I’m entitled to your vote. Each day I walk into city hall I have to earn your trust, your confidence, and your respect. I wake up every day believing in Norwalk and the progress we have made together. With your support, we can keep the momentum going. Therefore, I humbly ask for your continued support on November 5.

8 comments

Norwalk native November 1, 2019 at 1:42 pm

Buffoonery – a person who amuses others by tricks, jokes, odd gestures and postures, etc.

– a term to describe an act of complete twattery, normally carried out by a buffoon.

Sarah Mann November 1, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Mayor Rilling, thank you for your years of service to Norwalk but I think it’s time for a change. When I read your piece this morning I could not help but think of a meeting at City Hall in the Concert Hall where the DOT folks were explaining about the railroad Walk Bridge project and a woman from South Norwalk got up and told the crowd that she was awakened every morning at 2am with light and noise because of this project. The DOT representative basically told her that they could do as they please, as they don’t have to follow local rules and ordinances. She was clearly upset. You walked out. You had an opportunity to address the crowd about this monster project and the future disruption. Yet you say you work for us.

Let’s move on to the Walk Bridge project. Yes, it’s union jobs for 5 years. Good. One would have to be in a coma not to realize that those jobs are in play here. However, the residents of East Norwalk and South Norwalk will be experiencing untold disruption for years, years. Yet you refuse to look for any compromise here. It’s this bridge. Only this bridge. Nothing else. Alternatives? The charm of the Norwalk Harbor is gone for good. And you say you work for us.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here for a moment. Taxpayer after taxpayer has spoken about any number of issues throughout the years before the Common Council, various boards and commissions to offer their suggestions and thoughts, possible compromises to developments, etc. Yet time and again they are referred to as “naysayers” by the band of merry men/ladies at city hall. The elected officials, staff and volunteers are completely tone deaf. The lack of critical thinking skills is staggering. So much so, that people don’t even bother going to speak at meetings any more. Was that your goal? If so, well done sir, well done. Yet, you have the audacity to proclaim, that “you work for us”.

POKO is still a mess. Not all of this is on you. However to expect the taxpayers of Norwalk to support an apartment complex of 100% affordable apartments is quite frankly beyond the pale. If this deal is not within your skill set okay. Please acknowledge it and recruit some stakeholders that can get this deal done so we don’t have that ghastly monster in our town center any longer. If you and your pals in the Parking Authority actually believe that painting a few stripes around the Wall Street area is actually going to make a difference down there…think again. You say you work for us?

Mike Mushak November 1, 2019 at 4:16 pm

This is an honest and straightforward appeal that every voter in Norwalk should read, and I strongly support the positive momentum Harry Rilling and the diverse Democratic ticket represents which we can all see everywhere we look, including better schools and parks, better and more efficient management in City Hall, better infrastructure including paving and sidewalks all over town, more housing choices for everyone, more businesses and jobs, higher grand list, and lower taxes.

Norwalk is moving in the right direction, after decades of struggling ever since the 136 bustling factories closed in the 1960s and 70s throwing tens of thousands out of work and emptying our downtowns of people and businesses. SoNo is a testament to good planning that preserves existing neighborhoods while bringing in new opportunities and transit-oriented housing, and Wall Street is on its way to a similar urban renaissance after decades of struggling.

Vote Row A on Tuesday for Harry Rilling and for Norwalk!

Niz November 1, 2019 at 4:27 pm

NURDS UNITE I was always a democrat being from a large family and really loving CT … my lifestyle and how the state was run, in 70’s-80’s-90’s has changed. As years pass and our state & Country starting facing changing times, in technology, job markets, terror attacks, mental health issues, addiction, criminal justice, natural disasters… I see that our legislators are failing the citizens / residents more and more and not making educated and smart choices. I am no longer a party to the 2 party system, I changed to Independent a d=few years ago…. As I continue to vote I see our choices are not good. I think Lisa For Norwalk is a good choice and option for Norwalk. which is not common , it is usually one fo the lesser evils. I am not all about bashing Riling , I just feel his ideas and directions mixed with choices and outcomes are not going all so well. I will not vote to re-elect anyone in this election cycle, which is so vital to our city’s direction. As I fear inexperienced candidates might mess up learning, it cannot be as awful as those that keep getting re-elected and are not listening to the voters and the obvious issues. to completely deny and ignore tax paying citizens is simply unacceptable!

TRS November 2, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Mike Mushak should just learn to copy and paste all of his responses, since they are all the same.
“Positive momentum?” Not here in Norwalk….in fact, we are moving backwards!
I can list a hundred things…but let’s just name one…illegals overcrowding our schools and making it nearly impossible to teach our native Norwalk kids.

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