A clear choice in the mayoral election

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The Norwalk public school system has been ranked number one in Connecticut among large urban districts the last two years, according to the state’s Accountability Index. By a variety of measures – improved test scores, award winning schools, transformed special education services, a host of curriculum updates, reworked counseling services, a digital literacy curriculum – our schools are moving in the right direction.

Which brings us to the 2019 mayoral election between the Democratic incumbent, Harry Rilling, and Lisa Brinton, who was endorsed by the Republican party.

During his terms in office, Mayor Rilling has worked with the BOE to fund the district’s special education turnaround, its five-year facilities plan, its strategic operating plan, and its new health insurance program. I believe his challenger supports these initiatives. The difference between the two is Brinton’s contention that Norwalk’s grand list is not growing fast enough to support educational initiatives in the years ahead. She also contends that population growth will make school funding a burden the city cannot bear. So far, Brinton has not backed up these points with compelling evidence.

Regarding the city’s financial position, Mayor Rilling has offered an array of benchmarks that indicate the city is indeed equipped to meet the needs of our schools in the years ahead. He has noted that:

  • The city’s reserve funds are the highest in the state and are increasing at a healthy rate; put differently, revenues are up with no sign of decreasing.
  • The grand list grew by 16% last year; plus, the aggregate value of commercial properties increased, which will reduce the property tax burden on homeowners.
  • Despite funding essential services, including most of the BOE’s recent budget request, property taxes this year went down for most Norwalk residents.
  • Norwalk has maintained a AAA credit rating, which enables it to fund expensive capital projects, such as new schools, at the lowest possible interest rates.
  • Our yearly audits indicate the city’s financial procedures conform to national standards; that there are no concerns related to the city’s various financial statements.


Brinton recently introduced a list of initiatives that, in her view, would begin to generate additional revenue for the city. Interestingly, Mayor Rilling has already initiated some of these ideas. More importantly, Brinton has not refuted the Mayor’s basic argument: Under his watch, Norwalk is thriving when it comes to fiscal matters and is well-prepared to continue funding the city’s educational needs.

Brinton has also made “population density” a key issue. In her view, Norwalk’s population is growing too quickly and will create funding pressures on city services, including education, that the city cannot meet. The Mayor has argued that he is a proponent of “smart growth,” in which development is concentrated in downtown areas while the more suburban portions of the city maintain their existing population densities.

The Mayor’s smart growth view is based on the need to create “foot traffic” in our urban areas through market rate and affordable housing developments. He believes the city’s sound financial circumstances, especially with revenues increasing each year at a steady rate, will enable the city to easily absorb, if necessary, any additional financial pressures. He also makes an interesting case about the need for population growth in our urban areas, which are, ironically, among the least populated sections of Norwalk.

Increased population density in our urban centers, according to Mayor Rilling, is long overdue and will lead to substantial revenue from property taxes on new apartment buildings as well as families spending money in Norwalk, thereby supporting small businesses that, currently, are having a tough time making it in the city.

Candidate Brinton has a tough road ahead: Under Mayor Rilling, our schools have been recognized by the state for their steady improvements; the rating agencies, using a broad array of fiscal and demographic metrics, have deemed Norwalk worthy of AAA status; increased revenues have enabled the city to hold the line on property taxes; and there is development going on in our long-neglected urban centers. In addition, after years of inaction, we have begun to seriously address flooding in residential neighborhoods, and we are in the process of totally revamping our zoning regulations.

At this point in the campaign, I believe the choice is clear.

Bruce Kimmel

Board of Education member

Former Common Council member


TRS October 22, 2019 at 1:24 am

This is the SAME Bruce Kimmel who voted against the wishes of the students, teachers, parents, and community by foolishly approving the bone-headed school start time switch next year.
At least he doesn’t attack people like Mushak.

Norwalk native October 22, 2019 at 6:17 am

I certainly agree Mr. Kimmel. The clear choice is Lisa Brinton.

The only thing worse than Mayor McCheese Rilling was his tenure as Chief Inspector Cleuseau Rilling. The same tenure that made the NPD the laughing stock of the state.

Mayor McCheese Rilling has certainly been a gift to the Public Sector Unions and to the Educational Industrial Complex; brokering every extragavent demand at the expense of taxpayers. He has certainly been welcoming to Illegal students from Guatemala; turning the NPS into a majority minority school system at the expense of the taxpayers and property owners. He has certainly left his mark on the Wall Street POKO development; the poster child for inept and clueless Management. He has even found a way to not do his own job at all by hiring an assistant Mayor at the same salary as himself and at the expense of the taxpayers. What he cant seem to figure out is how to raise my property value one iota, as it has been stagnant these last fifteen years.

Perhaps Mayor McCheese Rilling would do better as a Union delegate. That would at least be a more transparent role.

Sue Haynie October 22, 2019 at 6:30 am

Norwalk has always had a high reserve fund, Rilling wants to spend it because of bad planning

Grand list grew by 16% but under Rilling, costs grew by 24%

Property taxes for homeowners went down in 2018 because their Property Values went down

Norwalk has had a AAA credit rating for decades, Rilling inherited it and Norwalk taxpayers pay for it

Rilling needs an Assistant Mayor and Communication Director to speak for him. What’s that about?

Rilling does not fight for Norwalk, he rolls over and plays dead until it’s time for a soundbite or a photo op.

Lisa will fight for Norwalk. Lisa will use HER voice to fight for Norwalk. Norwalk needs a fighter, not a retiree.

Tysen Canevari October 22, 2019 at 6:36 am

This is the same Bruce Kimmel that was quoted as saying $40,000 for a traffic study isnt that much to determine the effects of a new start time. Last time i looked at The Best Buy flyer that could purchase a lot of chrome books for the school kids.

JustATaxpayer October 22, 2019 at 7:38 am

Let me guess, Bruce votes the D line even for dog catcher. As Speaker Pelosi aptly stated, in some districts a glass of water with a D on it will win.

I see nationally the economy is humming along nicely. Lowest unemployment rate and a nice uptick in median income. That you President Obama?

John Miller October 22, 2019 at 11:39 am

With more than a thousand appeals and four hundred law suits still pending, I’m a little skeptical about the 16% Grand List increase that Mr. Kimmel cites. What happens to the Grand List if a significant number of the appeals and law suits are successful?

In addition, I don’t buy the “property taxes went down for most Norwalkers” line. I’m a Norwalk “lifer” and haven’t run into anyone who has indicated that their property taxes went down. It would be interesting to get some feedback from NON readers (either up or down) to see if this claim has any basis in reality.

Ron Morris October 22, 2019 at 7:02 pm

This is the same Bruce Kimmel who voted to keep police at dirt jobs sitting in their car playing on the phone at $ 65.00 and up per hour, when we could have had flagmen actually in the road directing traffic for $25.00 per hour. The other perk for the taxpayer using flagmen would would be no need no for the 2nd fleet of city police cars, gas, car insurance and maintenance so the cops can have the luxury of overtime for doing nothing.
Kimmel is only for the unions much liker Harry. They are not for the taxpayer.

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