Rilling endorsement; a BoE policy and a ‘jobs report’

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich), left, and Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, as shown in a video on the Rilling for Mayor Facebook page.

The election is Nov. 5.

NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk electoral news for you:

  • Rilling announces endorsement by Murphy, Blumenthal, Himes and Tong
  • No, Barbis cannot be removed from the BoE, state official says
  • The Norwalk Chamber’s jobs report

Rilling endorsed

Mayor Harry Rilling has been endorsed for reelection by four of Connecticut’s top Democrats.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and Attorney General William Tong have endorsed Rilling, an incumbent Democrat, in his battle with Republican-endorsed Mayoral challenger Lisa Brinton.

“I’m very proud to support Harry Rilling for Mayor,” Blumenthal is quoted as saying in a press release. “Harry is a person of tremendous integrity and energy who is completely devoted to Norwalk. He has improved schools, ushered in economic development, brought fiscal responsibility and focused on improving roads, bridges and other needed infrastructure. Harry brings the great qualities of civility and respect for others to the job of Mayor every day. This is why I strongly encourage Norwalk residents to join me in supporting Harry Rilling for reelection.”

“I am proud to endorse Harry Rilling for another term as Mayor of Norwalk,” Murphy is quoted as saying. “During his tenure, Mayor Rilling has brought millions in new investments to the city while also adding to the grand list and expanding revenue. The growth of economic development in Norwalk has been spurred by the hard work of Mayor Rilling and I am excited to see Norwalk continue to grow under his leadership.”

“Harry has provided a life-time of service in the military, at the Norwalk Police Department and most recently, in his leadership of the City of Norwalk,” Himes said in a video posted on the Rilling for Mayor Facebook page. “Where you just walk around Norwalk, you see the results of his leadership – the kind of development we want, new jobs, record investment in our system of education and, of course, historically low taxes.”

“Norwalk is on the right track because of Harry Rilling’s leadership,” Tong is quoted as saying. “Economic development is strong across the city, Norwalk schools have seen historic investment and improvement and crime is down. I enthusiastically support Mayor Rilling and I encourage every Norwalk resident to get out and vote for Harry on November 5th!”

Brinton has been endorsed by State Reps. Travis Simms (D-140), Terri Wood (R-141) and Gail Lavielle (R-143), and Common Council member Ernie Dumas (D-District B).

Rilling has been endorsed by the Fairfield County Building Trades, the American Federation of Teachers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees) Council 4, and the Norwalk police and fire unions. In addition, he was endorsed by the Norwalk Hour.

Brinton did not reply to an email giving her a chance to respond to the latest Rilling endorsement.


‘No provision in CT law’

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams said Saturday that she had heard that Board of Education members could vote to remove someone elected to the Board. Although there’s a Board policy in place that provides for that to happen, a State official said Monday that the move would be ruled invalid.

Board Policy 9222, which was adopted in 1985 and reviewed in 1997, states, “An officer of the Board of Education elected by it may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the membership of the Board.”

Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Attorney Patrice McCarthy wrote, “There is no provision in CT law for a Board of Education to remove a member, or for the citizens to recall a member (the latter is based on case law).  Even if a local charter, board policy or bylaw provided such authority, it would be ruled invalid.  Only if a board member was no longer a resident of the community and refused to resign could the board begin a removal process.”

Penn-Williams made the comment in reference to Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis.


‘Jobs report’

Last week’s Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Mayoral debate began with a startling statement: “Since 2013 Norwalk has been has not been growing jobs while nearby Stamford has increased employment significantly. In the most recent report, Norwalk shows the decline of almost 500 jobs since 2015, despite a construction boom.”

Rilling and Brinton then explained their plan to grow jobs, with Rilling citing The SoNo Collection and the recently hired Norwalk Chief of Economic and Community Development Jessica Casey and another new position, Director of Business Development & Tourism Sabrina Church, and Brinton suggesting that as a retired businesswoman she’d be a better choice to lead Norwalk and then slamming the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s plans to rebuild the Walk Bridge.

That question was submitted by an audience member and was based on a report on DataUSA, Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce President Brian Griffin explained Monday.

The report states that Norwalk’s population grew .69% in 2017, when compared to 2016, and the median income went up .804% in that time period.

Nothing jumps off the page saying, “decline of almost 500 jobs since 2015.” There’s a statement that there was a .0413% decline in jobs from 2016 to 2017, from 48.5k employees to 48.4k employees.

A download of data from the employment section produces a confusing chart, with statistics from 2013 to 2017. A sampling of data reported by the website:

  • Construction: “2.82k” in 2013, “3.08k” in 2017
  • Healthcare support: “864” in 2013, “1.1k” in 2017
  • Office & administrative: “6.49k” in 2013, “5.63k” in 2017
  • “education, training &”: “3.63k” in 2013, “3.08k” in 2017
  • Firefighting: “488” in 2013, “366” in 2017
  • Installation: “1.47k” in 2013, “4.08k” in 2017
  • law enforcement: “311” in 2013, “204” in 2017
  • legal occupations: “625” in 2013, “553” in 2017
  • “health technologists &”: “503” in 2013, “445” in 2017

If you go to the website, you’ll find interesting charts to play with.


John ONeill November 4, 2019 at 4:36 pm

I like Harry. However, Everyone should keep in mind that these people also happily endorsed Joe Ganim. Last I checked Joe Ganim is a convicted felon, and was a corrupt Mayor. Not sure if their endorsement is worth much to anyone who cares. Politicians are amusing people, don’t you think?? By the way, I am not a Trump supporter either.

Bruce Kimmel November 4, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Board policy 9222 does not contradict state law. That policy refers to an “officer” of the board, which means a member of the board’s executive committee can be removed from that position with a 2/3 vote. That person remains a member of the full board.

Debora Goldstein November 4, 2019 at 5:21 pm

The policy refers to the “office” held by the officer, not the elected “office” held by a board member. Thus, a chair, secretary, treasurer can be relegated to regular board member.

MarjorieM November 4, 2019 at 8:15 pm

Unfortunately Barbis has chosen to divide the city by being a racist This division closely mirrors what is going on in this country. Barbis needs to resign so that Norwalk has a chance to heal. Brinton is of the same ilk.

Tysen Canevari November 4, 2019 at 10:32 pm

Sneak into the country and they will give you full benefits. Work for a living and you will get nada!

John Miller November 5, 2019 at 1:26 pm

The endorsement by our DC contingent of a fellow Democrat is neither surprising nor newsworthy. What would have been newsworthy is if they had announced that funding had been appropriated to help Norwalk with the ELL program or, on a national level, they were moving forward with the implementation of the USMCA.

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