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A look at the Democratic primary candidates

Norwalk Democrats vying for a District C Council endorsement are, from left, Jenn McMurrer, Tyler Fairbairn, John Kydes and Jennifer McAllister.

The 2021 Election is Nov. 2. A District C Democratic primary is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 14.

NORWALK, Conn. — Four Norwalk Democrats are seeking to be their party’s candidates for District C Common Council on the ballot this fall. Half will fall short, as there are only two candidacies available.

Voters will decide who gets the slots tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 14, in a District C primary. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.; the polling places are Marvin Elementary School and Nathan Hale Middle School.

Incumbent Council member John Kydes and Oak Hills Park Authority member Jennifer McAllister won the Democratic Town Committee endorsements in July. Jenn McMurrer and Tyler Fairbairn secured enough signatures on petitions to force a primary.

NancyOnNorwalk emailed all four candidates Friday and asked for answers to five questions, plus a bio. Fairbairn and McMurrer responded; Kydes and McAllister did not. NoN put together information from other sources.

 

 

John Kydes

John Kydes.

Kydes is in his fourth 2-year term on the Council, having come to office in 2013. He has served as Planning Committee Chairman since November 2015 and was Council President for two years, starting in November 2017. He’s been majority leader twice, in the 2015-17 term and the present one.

He also led a Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force, a 2014 Rilling initiative that petered out in mid-2015.

The Planning Committee aims to smartly plan development, among other things.

Kydes, 47, is a lifelong resident. He and his wife Naomi Kydes have two children, 14-year-old John and 16-year-old Sophia.

Kydes routinely describes himself as a contractor. He is the principal, member and agent of Thomas Kydes Painting LLC, State records show. The business was formed in 2001.

Kydes is also co-owner of Il Posto, a restaurant on Washington Street. He and fellow Council member George Tsiranides (D-District D) bought it last year.

One of NorwalkOnNorwalk’s questions asked what the candidates think are the top three issues facing District C. While Kydes didn’t answer the questionnaire, he did reply to a Patch reporter asking what he thinks the top issue is and what he would do about it.”

“City planning is imperative to secure Norwalk’s future. Funding for our schools and public services needs to come from smart development and not on the back of the taxpayer,” Kydes wrote.

 

 

Jennifer McAllister

Jennifer McAllister.

McAllister has two boys attending Norwalk Public Schools and has lived here 16 years, Jennifer Balliett said in July when she nominated the candidate for endorsement at the DTC meeting. Public records show McAllister is 49.

McAllister’s resume, included in November’s Council packet, shows that she was a fashion apparel wholesaler/retailer for Camuto Group from 2007 to 2019. McAllister is also listed as a vice president for financial planning and analysis from October 2017 to 2019, helping to prepare the company for sale. From 2007 to 2017, she was senior director for financial planning and analysis.

She’s been on the Oak Hills Park Authority since November, and was nominated by Council member Dominique Johnson (D-At Large).

One of NorwalkOnNorwalk’s questions asked what the candidates think are the top three issues facing District C. While McAllister didn’t answer the questionnaire, she did reply to a Patch reporter asking what he thinks the top issue is and what he would do about it.”

“Keeping Norwalk affordable and safe for all who want to live here,” McAllister replied. I want to be a part of the team and have a voice for decisions that are made that will effect the living/financial situations of our residents. We need to ensure that we are taking into consideration the needs of the many that will benefit everyone both long term as well as short term.”

 

 

 

Jenn McMurrer

Jenn McMurrer.

McMurrer was Senior Editor at Martha Stewart Living from August 2009 to January 2012, according to her Facebook page. On LinkedIn, she says she has since been a freelance digital and print media consultant. She was also executive editor for Westchester Home and Westchester and Hudson Valley Weddings from November 2013 to August 2020.

Public records show McMurrer is 40. She describes herself as a mom and a wife.

A Q&A:

Why are you running?

“I’m running to make a positive difference in our community. I have nothing but good intentions for my neighbors. I want to show up, listen to their concerns, and do the work. I do not take this position lightly, I think it is an honor to serve our community. I want all of our voices to be heard and represented, not just a select few.

What do you think are the three most important issues facing District C?

“Quality education for all

“A strong strategy for development, especially when it comes to the East Norwalk TOD recommendations

“Transparency and honest dialog

What do you hope to accomplish in your two-year term?

“I hope to create a clearer line of communication between the Common Council and my neighbors in District C. I want to hold regular gatherings for people to voice their concerns and ask questions. I also want to build a better relationship between the Common Council and the Board of Education. And finally, I want to work towards creating more affordable and engaging programs that everyone can enjoy in our community.”

Some voters think the Council is a rubber stamp for Mayor Rilling. What’s your response to that?

“Although I admire what Mayor Rilling has been able to accomplish serving as Mayor, I have never been a rubber stamp for anyone. I will stand up for what I believe is best for my neighbors. I am not in this to be a career politician, but to make a positive change.”

What is the most interesting book you’ve read this year?

“I re-read Michelle Obama’s Becoming this year, which I found to be very inspiring. I am in the middle of reading Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s In My Own Words as she has always been one of my heroes. With two small children, I rarely get to read for pleasure anymore, but I loved the book Where the Crawdads Sing and I’m currently reading His Only Wife for pure fun.”

What’s your favorite place to hang out in District C?

“It is so hard to pick just one place. On Friday nights you will often find us at Ripka’s listening to live music and enjoying good food and neighbors. On Sunday mornings you will always find my family at Cove Deli having breakfast sandwiches, and we often stop to get ice cream at Mr. Frosty’s and Sweet Ashleys.”

 

 

Tyler Fairbairn

Tyler Fairbairn.

Fairbairn, 39, is Community Development Administrator for Greenwich, a role he took in 2017.

He provided this bio:

“Tyler Fairbairn is a father of three who grew up in Connecticut and has lived in East Norwalk for the past seven years.  He has served on the Naramake Elementary School Governance Council for several years, including most recently as parent co-chair, and is on the board of Norwalk Little League.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and has been working in community development for the entirety of his career, managing federal grant funds and writing plans designed to address the needs of the most vulnerable, low-income residents in their respective communities.  He is the Community Development Administrator for the Town of Greenwich and is the Vice President of the New England chapter of the National Community Development Association.”

 

A Q&A:

Why are you running?

“I am running because I feel as though my thoughts and concerns about issues impacting my family and those like mine have not been well represented for the past several years.  I am willing to volunteer my time and energy to be a voice for all residents in the district, particularly working families with children in our public schools.”

What do you think are the three most important issues facing District C?

“Education/recreational opportunities for kids in District C; updating existing zoning to ensure that development in the district is in line with what residents want to see in their neighborhoods; providing affordable housing opportunities.”

What do you hope to accomplish in your two-year term?

“I would like to establish a relationship with Norwalk Public Schools that is more collaborative than combative/skeptical.  I am very concerned about what’s going to happen when the American Rescue Plan funding going to the schools runs out, and would like to be at the table when those discussions are happening.  I also intend to be open, honest and transparent about my decision making process/votes on issues after hearing from constituents.”

Some voters think the Council is a rubber stamp for Mayor Rilling. What’s your response to that?

“If fortunate enough to be elected to the Common Council, I would come in with zero conflicts – personally, professionally or politically.  I do not intend to serve on the Council forever, and have zero interest in running for higher office.  Ever.  I am not concerned in the least that a decision I make or a position I take might cost me a future endorsement, seat on a board/commission, etc.  Any vote I make on an issue will be informed by my background in urban planning/community development and the thoughts and concerns expressed by those in the district.”

What is the most interesting book you’ve read this year?

“I am just finishing Free the Beaches by Andrew Kahrl. It’s a fascinating story about Ned Coll and his effort to open Connecticut’s beaches to the (primarily) urban poor in the 1960s and 70s that includes a history of redlining, privatization of public land and exclusionary zoning in the state during that time.”

What’s your favorite place to hang out in District C?

“My family loves Calf Pasture Beach but I’m certain that if I asked my kids they would say Mr. Frosty’s.”

8 comments

DrewT September 13, 2021 at 8:38 am

I find it very funny that the UNENDORSED Candidates have done almost ZERO campaigning except moan and groan on FB nor have they reached out to Democratic voters in the neighborhood a which they claim they want to represent. But who do we see all the time in the district and who is responsible hard working and dedicated & Endorsed by the DTC?!! JOHN KYDES! Politics aside he has done a very very good job representing District C and deserves another term!

Stacking the Deck September 13, 2021 at 2:39 pm

Its a bit concerning when Tyler Fairbairn’s response to why he is running is “my thoughts and concerns” not “our thoughts and concerns”. Thus, I find it hard to believe that Tyler Fairbairn will act in the best interests of his District; and by association, Jenn McMurrer.

You just have to look at Mr. Fairbairn’s past comments on NoN as a fierce outspoken advocate for every budget request from the BOE to know where he stands; defending it at all costs. He is a trojan horse / implant. The wording should be changed from “Mayor Rilling” to “BOE” as he clearly would be a rubber stamp. Running against Mr. Kydes because he had the courage to ask tough questions is not noble, it’s perpetuating the current state.

News flash you can’t “build better relationships” without asking tough questions; the reality is that when tough questions get asked the BOE then uses its army of parents who then use their kids as props to get Council members to cave to pressure, which is SO wrong! The Council has been trying to get the BOE to agree to an efficiency study for YEARS. What’s so bad to hide that you don’t want someone looking through your books or is it the fact the Council isn’t allowed to look through your books that makes this scary?

All these “new” candidates have pledged blind support to the BOE and “fully funding” them when the BOE has been funded YoY and is never allowed to get less than what it got the year prior in CT. Yes, they don’t get the entire wish-list they send to Santa each year, but we all don’t. But let’s be honest, they know how to play the budget game, add fat where they need too, and add pressure when they need to.

Tyler / Jenn – We know where John and his running mate stand on this one, but do you support the recently approved efficiency study? If not, why? As a steward of our tax dollars, how would you ensure that you know where each and every dollar is going? How would you go about enhancing the relationship between the BOE and Council when they have already started joint meetings? Please elaborate? As fierce advocates of the BOE, how will you ensure that you keep taxes low so that we don’t price out low income residents or Seniors and increase revenues? These are important questions that are not covered in these cookie cutter, “feel good” responses.

This is all just an attack on Mr. Kydes because he stood up to the BOE. Thank you Mr. Kydes for doing the job you were elected to do. The recent smear campaign launched against John has really shown their colors.

Patrick Cooper September 13, 2021 at 2:48 pm

“Some voters think the Council is a rubber stamp for mayor Rilling. What’s your response to that?”

Some???? Two answers – neither directly answered the question, but in a way – all four did.

We are democrats running on the D-line. We vote with Harry’s D’s, every single time. Rinse – repeat.

Not one – since 2013 – has dared to do otherwise. They just quit. Bye George.

Maybe a fact checker (journalist?) would like to list every vote taken on the CC over just the past two years – and list the topic, and the dissenting members votes. Tom Keegan, check. Ernie Dumas – I think twice. He got gone in 2020. Maybe one other….

Anyone else? Ever? On any topic? Especially development….campaign contributors are always happy, never sad.

This primary is an inside Delta-house food fight that will cost taxpayers without changing anything. The only winner is Harry – the losers – again – are the Norwalk taxpayers.

Jim Tru September 13, 2021 at 5:27 pm

I’m not a fan of any politicians in Norwalk currently but I do feel like John Kydes is really trying to look out for the taxpayer when he can.

As a parent, he also is aware of the theatrics that play around the BOE. As a previous comment mentioned, if a council member speaks out against the BOE, the parents rally against them.

I also agree with the comment in regards to the efficiency study. God forbid a 200+ million dollar company has a level of accountability for spending.

I commend Tyler and Jenn for stepping up and look forward to their continued contributions to the community but I really hope District C Democrats come out to support their endorsed candidates, John Kydes and Jennifer Mcallister.

Bryan Meek September 14, 2021 at 8:54 am

So, in the middle of Covid that the city government is still milking for every last drop, parents can’t go into school buildings, but we are having a primary in two school buildings during school while city hall is empty. Genius.

Bryan Meek September 14, 2021 at 8:57 am

@Jim. No doubt there is always efficiency to be found. Any curiosity as to why the city gave itself a 5% increase while giving the school district 0? This is after City Hall was effectively closed for a year, while the schools were actually working at capacity.

Maybe it’s just me, but after 18 months of being shut down, has it dawned on anyone how little we actually need most of what city hall does?

Piberman September 18, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Do any of these candidates have the background business and financial mgmt experience that we might find in managers of our local Wal Marts ? Our surrounding towns insist on business/management backgrounds for their elected officials. Do we have “special needs” in Norwalk ? Or is it that those well qualified for Council want no part of City politics ? Surely we ought encourage a Council that we’re all proud of. Ones well qualified to manage our City.

Piberman September 18, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Reading these comments and others posted about the coming election reminds us of how City politics has changed over the decades. Not too many decades ago Council meetings commonly had a hundred or more attendees and many attended Committee meetings. Most everyone active in City affairs knew everyone else. Actively socialized. Several groups had monthly meetings open to all. Republicans, Democrats and Independents had similar agendas. So electing a different “Team” for City Hall or the BOE didn’t change matters much.

The great benefit of the “old times” is that we had a wealth of citizens well versed in business and management to oversee City and public school affairs. And our City was well recognized as one of the best run in CT with a public school that attracted new homeowners. It’s why we came here.

Seems to me we have a lot of work to do in our local political parties to become well functioning again and attract numbers of well qualified citizens to volunteer to serve. We all benefit when we attract large numbers of well qualified citizens to serve in our local governance. If we can’t do that we ought consider having a Professional Manager as does half the nations cities. Greenwich has one for decades and receives high marks. Helps attract new homeowners and encourages homeowners to retire in the cities they raised their kids.

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