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Norwalk election roundup: Brinton concedes; constable consternation and BoE ‘quality’

From left, Common Council member-elect Kadeem Roberts, Norwalk Board of Education members-elect Erica DePalma and Diana Carpio, along with Lucia Rilling, Mayor Harry Rilling, State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137)and Council members Eloisa Melendez and John Igneri celebrate on Election Night in the Hilton Garden Inn.
The election is over!

Updated, 12:32 p.m.: Romano concedes; Absentee ballots counted; Nov. 8, photo added. 

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk election notes:

  • Brinton accepts defeat; absentee ballots have been counted
  • City-wide recount avoided
  • Thoughts on the BoE turnover


A concession

Lisa Brinton has accepted defeat in Tuesday’s election.

Although Brinton, the Republican-endorsed challenger to Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling, said Tuesday that she’d call “that man” in a few days, she did in fact concede Wednesday morning.

Rilling said she called him at 10:37 a.m. to concede.

Unaffiliated yet-Republican-endorsed Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton with her “posse” close out Election Night in this photo she posted on Facebook. From left are Isabelle Hargrove, Juanita Olguin, Heather Dunn, Brinton and Donna Smirniotopoulos.

On Tuesday evening, she said she was waiting for absentee ballots before conceding to Rilling because she was only 500 votes away from his vote total. In a Wednesday morning Facebook post, she confirmed she had based that on information provided by News12.

“Who knows what or when the official mayoral results will be in – last reported on News12 it was 52/48 % and ~ 500 votes to Harry, but we couldn’t get an answer very late into the evening regarding absentee ballots,” she wrote. “It was a hard fought race and while we may have lost the battle -we haven’t lost the war on putting an end to divisive, partisan politics.”

“We nearly pulled off an upset with our ‘Meet Me In The Middle’ coalition,” she wrote.

Norwalk Democrats compiled their own information on Election Night, achieving results that closely mirror those released by the Registrars’ Office. Rilling is said to have won with 55.2 percent of the vote. Rilling won reelection two years ago with 56 percent of the vote.

NancyOnNorwalk asked Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said Thursday that the absentee ballots have been counted.

“I have no idea why someone, (maybe unsuccessful candidate for mayor?) thinks we have not counted Abs. No one from a campaign has inquired,” he wrote.

Brinton in her Facebook post continued her accusations against Rilling, charging that taxes will rise and “special interests will reap the city spoils.”

She wrote:

“Unfortunately, I fully expect this mayor and rubber stamp council to move full steam ahead with:
– “More fortress apartments
– “Predatory LAZ parking practices on Wall St
– “The Poko/McClutchey Deal and 15 years of taxpayer funded credits and $6M developer fee
– “Razing of the Garden Cinema
– “More taxpayer funded lawsuits
– “Boondoggle Walk Bridge

“I remain committed to fighting these initiatives and shedding a light on the mismanagement & economic trends of our local government.”


She’s going to India to celebrate her birthday with her son, she said.

“Tireless to the end,” Bryan Meek wrote. “I’ll never forget this run. Your energy and drive is an inspiration to everyone you touch.”

“Maybe all those NURDS who supported can now band together to be sure their voices and concerns are heard going forward?Almost 7000 NURD voters, it seems that’s quite enough to have a strong grassroots voice on the issues of concern going forward. Anyone else interested in forming such a group?” another person wrote.

“NURD party upon my return!” Brinton promised.

Another person wrote, “You had some interesting ideas, and I admire your civic engagement. I wish some of your surrogate supporters echoed your gravitas in their advocacy on your behalf.”



A recount?

The City of Norwalk was poised Wednesday to spend $10-15,000 to decide which of two Republicans will get a constable position.

Seven of eight candidates become constables and this time John Romano is in last place, except he’s only two votes behind Ray Cooke, Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said. That means a recount, which “should cost the city about $10,000 to $15,000.”

Unless the defeated candidate files a written statement with the town clerk waiving the right, Cooke said in an email.

Romano did not reply to an email asking about the situation.

Cooke on Thursday reports that Romano is waiving his right to a recount.

“John Romano has graciously agreed to spare the taxpayers the expense of a recount and allow the election result for Constable to stand as originally reported,” Cooke wrote. “This election is a great excellent example that “every vote counts” as I have been elected by a margin of a single vote!”

Romano has been a constable since first being elected in 2013. He’s won handily in other years.



All-Dem Board of Education

It will be an entirely Democratic Board of Education in late November, a “one party rule” unless someone changes their party affiliation, due to the results of Tuesday’s election.

“The city said they prefer to have Democrats on the ‘Board of Ed,’” BoE member Bruce Kimmel said Tuesday. “I don’t think I don’t think it’s a question of it being a Democratic ‘Board of Ed.’ I think I think it’s the quality that people in the ‘Board of Ed.’”

Kimmel said he knows newly elected members Diana Carpio, Godfrey Azima and Erica DePalma.

“They are first rate, they will do a great job. I’m confident we will continue to move forward and to take our school system well into the 21st century. We’ll continue the progress,” said Kimmel, who announced last week that he intends to run for BoE Chairman.

He would replace BoE Chairman Mike Barbis, who has repeatedly drawn ire. The Norwalk NAACP plans an “emergency meeting” Thursday evening to discuss an incendiary Barbis email that suddenly became public just before the election.

In addition, Barbis has been angry with some citizens, and in December issued an apology to activist Diane Lauricella. He’s made many public sniping comments at BoE member Barbara Meyer-Mitchell.

Barbis did not reply to a Wednesday email asking about the NAACP meeting.

Asked Tuesday if the new Board would be civil, Kimmel said, “I think the Board of Ed going forward will be civil and we’ll work on a collaborative way with all stakeholders, and whatever problems we had in the past will put those behind us and move forward in a constructive way.”

Also winning election Tuesday was former Board of Education member Sherelle Harris, who, like Barbis, ran unopposed.

NancyOnNorwalk asked DePalma what the future has in store.

“Godfrey, Diana and I immediately bonded on this journey,” she wrote. “I’m blessed to now call them friends and I look forward to working with them and the larger team. We have a lot to accomplish in this next chapter, but I’m confident that we have a collaborative and productive group that will get it done.”


25 responses to “Norwalk election roundup: Brinton concedes; constable consternation and BoE ‘quality’”

  1. Enough

    I hope this new board repeals this ridiculous later high school start time. Now that the board is diverse maybe the residents who voiced against it will be heard.

  2. Lisa Brinton

    Apologies for the long post – but taking a break from all the excitement for my 60th and wanted to leave some parting comments.

    To my 7000 supporters, thank you for ‘getting it’ and understanding Norwalk could do better!

    To those who can’t stand my posting an alternative opinion (the basis of our democracy) well, just skip over my post.

    This mayoral contest was never about me. Single party rule under an authoritarian police chief mayor – is well … authoritarian. I just seem to be one of the few willing to stand up to him because as the saying goes, ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’

    The unprecedented racial and red vs blue rhetoric employed by Harry, Mike and fellow government ‘friends’ in the last few weeks were calculated, planned and couldn’t have been further from the truth – as Travis and Ernie demonstrated. It would appear that DT is Harry’s best friend! Rather than running a local platform- the mayor stooped to ‘dirty scare tactics’ and guess what – it worked. By the way Harry – you can adopt MY platform. I won’t mind 🙂

    Sadly, the real scary results of this election are quality of life, math and middle class Norwalkers struggling to stay in the city they love, as tax credits, abatements, enterprise zones and whatever other financial euphemism this administration cares to use is applied to our primary source of city revenue – land.

    If only the mayor spent as much time generating revenue via grants for Norwalk as he does PR or his campaign coffers.

    The unregulated apartments and safety liabilities to taxpayers and cheating the tax rolls remains a huge concern. There are other ways to deal with errant landlords that doesn’t involve ‘kicking down doors.’ It involves a competent finance department and assessor’s office requesting P&L statements from suspected slum landlords of unsafe houses overloading their multifamily structures. I think the CT Dept. of Revenue Services or IRS are more a threat than a broken down door. Guess that’s my business side speaking versus the mayor’s former occupation.

    Unfortunately, the city will also continue to struggle to fund its 60% poverty school system, due to failed state laws and policies drastically shortchanging Norwalk and our fair share of education cost share revenue. ELL enrollment and our ability to effectively deliver education services to ALL children is and will suffer.

    As the 2018 revaluation and 400 lawsuits settle, the grand list will decrease and taxes will continue to climb for ordinary residents. Meanwhile the mayor’s friends will reap the benefits.

    I ran against his policies as much as him. It wasn’t a red v blue contest. I was very careful about that. Just ask prominent Republicans who refused to support me. Nobody likes a true independent.

    Unfortunately, I expect Harry and his rubber stamp council to move ahead with the local issues I campaigned against. That’s what was at stake – not Trump policies, but everybody already knows that on this site.

    I remain invigorated and committed to challenging Harry’s efforts and raising public awareness. Why? Because our city charter of supposedly a ‘strong council – weak mayoral’ system has failed us.

    My advocacy for Norwalk will remain from the ‘cheap seats’ for now, but we ARE gaining ground and I will shed light on mismanagement & cronyism at city hall.

    At least 45% of NURDs who voted for me ‘get’ what is going on and I’ll work to educate those who still don’t. Thanks again to everyone for your incredible support!! I truly felt the love.

  3. Ray Cooke

    John Romano has graciously agreed to spare the taxpayers the expense of a recount and allow the election result for Constable to stand as originally reported.

    This election is an excellent example that “every vote counts” as I have been elected by a margin of a single vote!

  4. JustATaxpayer

    In this day and age it’s hard to call out the Elephant in the room — when one does, the approach is to call them racist.

    The unprecedented racial and red vs blue rhetoric employed by Harry, Mike and fellow government ‘friends’ in the last few weeks were calculated, planned and couldn’t have been further from the truth — seems true to me.

  5. Bryan Meek

    @Enough. The late start times are happening. I voted against it and lost my re-election bid, so you might not want to get your hopes up there. The next chairman is most likely one of those who voted yes, so it never even has to come up on the agenda again. And besides there are several multi-million dollar risks (population growth and insurance increases) to next year’s budget before it even started that are going to consume the conversation for the next 4 months. Move on as they say.

  6. MarjorieM

    Lisa, why not be gracious and selflessly accept defeat.

  7. Sono Resident

    Every word I have heard from Lisa Brinton post-election has made me happy that she did not win. She is divisive and would not have been a good leader for this city. She ran a toxic campaign that resorted to criticizing progress and appealing to people’s aversion to change. Complaining is not leading. Implying that Mayor Rilling is “corrupt” in her parting words is uncalled for; some grace in defeat would have been nice.

  8. Lisa Brinton

    Marj, I did accept defeat. What I don’t accept is single party rule without checks and balances. Tommy Keegan will need help on a 14-1 council. There are also 7000 people or 45% who need a voice. The mayor claimed he would reach out to those 45% in 2017 – he did not. He campaigned in 2013 on reforming P&Z – we see how that’s turned out. Did you see Brookfield Properties just announced a cash out of the mall to the tune of $304m – two days after the election? I rest my case.

  9. JB

    Lisa – I hope you look into forming a political party separate from the two major parties. Not sure what that would entail but I know it would be more palatable to me to check that box than to check your name on the republican line. (For the record – while I did vote in some races, I did not vote for mayor.)

  10. TRS

    What is Mr. Kimmel’s background? I don’t know him, but would like to know his qualifications. I can’t believe he voted YES to school start times. Was Bruce a former NPS teacher? Thanks.

  11. Patricia Agudow

    #HarryRilling good fortune on your win. PLEASE remember every single day, about half of every citizen who voted n are walking Norwalk streets did NOT vote for you. Practices need to change. You are mayor for all of us now, not for project and developer fancies, or those making disgusting comments on your campaign’s behalf. We want to SAVE #CityofNorwalkCt and we want to be included especially if we want to participate in our City Government. I am watching one of my properties decrease in value by 15% in a year. Pure declination! Horrible. No more BS, turn toward all your citizens and “listen” and adjust your governance. Norwalk is on a downward path know matter what Mall or box apartment we have. I pray that you take that to heart and run the Office of the Mayor of our City much differently than before. There is someone out there that will take that office if current directions continue. You did not get complete support for on your leadership. You squeaked out a win. I realize it’s 50+1 takes the cake, but it squeaks. We want more business savvy decisionmaking and inclusion and transparency. See you around the streets and places of Norwalk. I do wish you well.

  12. Mark J

    @Bryanmeek One can only hope that what @enough said can happen. But I do thank you for voting against it. Maybe they will realize it just isn’t feasible for us. I can’t tell you how many high school students oppose this idea and think it is utterly stupid. Or how many middle schoolers think it is more of a hinderance than a help.

  13. Bobby Lamb

    Lisa. Stop it. You lost. This was not a huge victory for you. You retained the voters you had last time – basically 23% and added those who voted for Conroy and Morris because those voters don’t like Harry and there was no other option. He won by the exact same margin as last time. There are about 15,000 people in this town that vote in every election. That’s who came out this time. When people are upset with the way things are going they come out to vote in droves. That didn’t happen here. The VAST MAJORITY of people in this city are happy with the way things are going. There was no ground swell for change. Your message fell flat. Your lack of dignity in your loss is embarrassing. Finally – your most recent actions are that much more telling on how unfit you are to be mayor. You did not know how to find out the results, your campaign finances were a mess – including forgetting to include donations from business (which if the mayor had done would have been seen as some kind of conspiracy). Your refusal to concede until you were made to do so by your town chair. Your language about the “police chief mayor” (is that an insult? You have something against first responders?). Your treasurers all out attack on a grandmother for supporting her granddaughter. To your comments above.

    There is nothing sinister about the mall transaction. That’s what developers do. They develop. They increase the value of the land they bought. They sell it. Someone just paid over $400m to buy it. That’s awesome not terrible.

    And I cannot believe the things your supporters are saying on Facebook, one in particular who needs no identification – we all know who I’m referring to. I have never seen such mean, personal and truly disturbing statements and baseless allegations. If you have one ounce of conscience please ask them to stop. They are attacking the mayor’s family and friends in disturbing, personal and vicious ways. If you intend to continue to want a place in public life in Norwalk, you should do what you can to calm her down, get he help or at the very least distance yourself from her.

  14. Lisa Brinton

    Bobby, Did you mean Mike Mushak?

  15. Bobby Lamb

    Mike Musial never sinks to the level of Donna S.

  16. The Norwalker

    I find it very divisive of Lisa Brinton to say she is unaffiliated when she is endorsed by the Republican Party and her name is on the Republican Ballot Line. That is not what unaffiliated means.

  17. Debora Goldstein

    Lisa is registered unaffiliated. That is the fact. Her endorsement by a major party does not change her party (or in this case, non-party) registration.

    This state has very finicky rules about where and how you can appear on the ballot, especially if you aren’t direct nominated (sometimes with as little as a single vote) to the ballot by a major party.

    Petitioning city-wide candidates, as Lisa was, need endorsement by hundreds of people, via petition signatures, to appear on a petitioning line. The rules do not let you keep a petitioning line on the ballot if you get endorsed by any other party, period.

    I find this attention to Lisa’s endorsement pretty near-sighted, as this town has not complained about a registered I being nominated by the Dems, nor a cross-endorsed R appearing on the Dem line, nor any attention to the Dems elected this year who ran as Rs last cycle, nor any blow-back at all for the soon-to-be Dem BOE Chair who actually caucused with Republicans while he was on the council a few years back.

    Just sayin’

  18. The Norwalker

    The Term Un-affiliated Candidate is only used when Candidate applies to get their name on a Party’s ballot line. There is nothing in the description about the candidate not being associated with, belonging to subordinate to or not being affiliated with:

    Petition candidates

    An unaffiliated candidate can petition for ballot access. To do this, the candidate must first file an application for the petition with the Connecticut Secretary of State. The application must include the name of the candidate and a statement signed by the candidate affirming that he or she has consented to place his or her name on the petition. The candidate may then circulate the petition. The candidate must collect signatures from registered, eligible voters equal to 1 percent of the votes cast at the most recent election for the office being sought by the candidate, or 7,500 signatures, whichever is less.[12][17][18]

    Once completed, the petition may be filed with either the Connecticut Secretary of State or the town clerk where the candidate resides. If the petition is filed with the town clerk, the town clerk must submit it to the Connecticut Secretary of State within two weeks of receiving it.[12][19]



  19. Debora Goldstein

    It refers to your voter registration, not your status as a petitioner. Anyone who checks no party registration is registered as unaffiliated and marked with a “u” on the voter file.

    A petitioning candidate is just that. You can petition on, regardless of uour party registration in the voter file, as Mr. Morris, a registered Democrat, did last cycle. Petitioning does not equal unaffiliated.

    We had an I, as in Independent Party, petition on as a WFP candidate this cycle too.

  20. David

    The fact that Lisa Brinton wrapped up her campaign message in a comment reply to a story (rather than a submitted opinion piece to NoN) pretty sums up the campaign, for me.

    As an engaged independent, I was waiting for a resounding message as to why we should change leadership, direction, in this city. I imagine if you didn’t like construction in Norwalk, Lisa had the message for you. Personally, I’ve never been afraid of growth, and I choose to live in a city.

    Pointing out problems (and to be sure, there are problems) isn’t a mandate for change. I never really got the ‘Police Chief’ moniker. Is it supposed to alert us that we are living in a police state? Is there a dog whistle I failed to hear?

    I wish Lisa the best of luck, and appreciate her participation in the democratic process.

  21. Tysen Canevari

    Cmon Bobby. You make it sound like Harry is an angel. It was nice watching that video of the CT NAACP leader blasting him at the meeting in regards to the Barbis email. Also, in case you havent noticed the owners of the mall sold out their stake 2 days after the election. I hope Harry wins a few more terms so he can watch Dollar General and Goodwill move into the mall project. Lisa ran a good election but was attacked by the good old boys club of Norwalk. Mushak cant sleep unless he is ripping her. Donna S used to rip Harry and she got banned from NON. Hell, Bob Duff even called her a racist. Thats not called for. Why does she need to be so gracious to someone that orchestrated attacks against her character.

    1. Donna Smirniotopoulos was banned for multiple violations of the comments policy, after being warned twice. Many people “rip Harry” via NancyOnNorwalk.

  22. The Norwalker

    Hi Dave

    I have never seen any official measurements of the ratio of Low Density to Medium Density Housing in Norwalk, it would be interesting to see which we have too much of.

  23. Lisa Brinton

    David, I’m sorry you think I wrapped my campaign up in a comments message. I posted in an OpEd to the Hour and am currently out of town. I’ve always actively participated in this section of NON and wanted to get some quick thoughts out before I left for two weeks. I had multiple means of communicating with Norwalk voters. Sorry if posting in the comments section offended you. Did you ever check out my other platform channels including my website, FB page, email list, videos, debates and commercials? NON, while a great forum is not the be all and end all for discussing solutions.

    Needless to say, I’ll have more to post either via an oped or comments section upon my return.

    The fact my character was repeatedly assassinated for simply challenging this mayor with a different set of ideas and economic facts demonstrates how broken our political and governing structure is. I don’t consider growth that yields additional government cost or lack of jobs ‘growth.’ It simply perpetuates our low ranking status nationally and continued exodus from the state.

    I appreciate that you appreciate my putting myself out there in the very public political process. It is not for the faint of heart – nor for those who wish to play it safe via political appointments or anonymous posts assuming no risk. Anything worth having – including better government is worth fighting for.

  24. David

    Hi Lisa – it didn’t offend me, just to be clear. As a voter I feel I was as informed as I could be around the choices. I’ll let my comments stand as they are personal reflections, but also re-iterate my admiration for anyone who dares stick their head into the buzz saw that is politics! Best of luck.

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