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An ‘in their words’ NoN Voter Guide – Common Council at Large

The 2021 Election is Nov. 2.

NORWALK, Conn. – NancyOnNorwalk has compiled candidate profiles by summarizing the bios provided on their websites.

Here you will read about Common Council At Large candidates, the information they’d like you to know:

Greg Burnett, Democratic incumbent

  •  27-year Norwalk resident.
  • Board of Estimate and Taxation former chair.
  • Greg Burnett. (Courtesy photo)

    Facilities Construction Commission former member.

  • Board of Education former member.
  • Common Council, At-Large 2017-present.
  • Finance and Claims Committee chair.
  • Community Services and Personnel Committee member.
  • Land Use and Building Management Committee member.
  • 2020 Common Council majority leader.
  • Fairfield County Vaccine Strike Force team member.
  • Norwalk Emergency Response Team active volunteer.
  • Worked closely with other board members and volunteers to ensure Norwalk continued to grow and offer an attractive environment for its residents from an economic, educational, and healthy way of living standpoint.
  • Holds undergraduate degrees in biology and sociology from Syracuse University, and a certificate in human resources studies from Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
  • Retired from IBM after more than 36 years of technical and managerial experience.
  • Current New York Region Encore Fellowship (Encore.org) program director, matching skilled, seasoned professionals to high impact, paid transitional assignments at social purpose organizations.
  • Nationally certified track and field official covering high school, college, and elite championship level competitions.
  • USA Track and Field National Officials Committee area 11 awards subcommittee chair.
  • Omega Psi Phi member.
  • Omega Life Membership Foundation regional board director, focused on providing college scholarships, community service and uplift to those in need.
  • Norwalk Salvation Army Corps advisory board member.
  • Notary public in Connecticut.
  • Justice of the peace in Norwalk.

 

Josh Goldstein, Democrat

  • Raised in Connecticut.  Moved to Norwalk because he wanted to live in a growing city with a rich history and culture.
  • Youngest candidate running city-wide.
  • Josh Goldstein. (Courtesy photo)

    Zoning Commissioner.  Voted in support of numerous projects including the now-finished soccer complex at West Rocks Middle School, a 69-unit expansion of Colonial Village, a state-of-the-art girls softball field at Brien McMahon High School, and the Wall Street Place complex. Trial attorney with Adelman, Hirsch & Connors, LLP. representing people who have been injured due to negligent or reckless actions.

  • Holds law and master’s degrees from Syracuse University,  and an undergraduate degree from George Washington University.
  • Lives in South Norwalk.

Platform:

Believes that city government service is about making our values a reality and will strive to do that on the Common Council.

States that a Common Council position should be used to amplify voices that oftentimes do not have a seat at the table. Deeply believes in the importance of seeking and understanding the perspectives of those who have different lived experiences. Believes that all Norwalkers deserve Common Council representation. Will fight to make Norwalk a place where citizens continue to feel that its government is working for them.

Believes that Norwalk’s government should reflect its people: diverse in all ages, backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives, united by a common desire to improve the city we are proud to call home.

Has listened to and learned from citizens across Norwalk about what is truly significant to them and what they want Norwalk to become.

 

Dominique E. Johnson, Democratic incumbent

  • 10-year Norwalk resident.
  • Common Council, At Large since January 2020.
  • Ordinance Committee member.
  • Dominique Johnson. (Courtesy photo)

    Community Services and Personnel Committee member.

  • Health and Public Safety Committee member.
  • Third generation educator bringing expertise to the Common Council from experiences as a nonprofit professional and former public college professor.
  • Holds a doctorate from Temple University, a master’s from Stanford University, and a bachelor’s from Bryn Mawr College.

Platform:

Believes that local government should be responsive to the needs of residents, accessible to all, and a force for good in our diverse community. Fierce advocate for Norwalk’s hard-working families.  Motivated to work hard everyday in collaboration with others so that the next generation of Norwalkers can learn, grow, and live with the safety, support, and opportunities they deserve. Will act boldly to advance Norwalk’s response to climate change.  Dedicated to represent all Norwalkers so we can make an impact together, now and into the future.

 

 

Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Democrat

  • Is a lawyer, a mom, and a passionate advocate for children and families.
  • Graduate of Yale Law School, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago.
  • Nora Niedzielski-Eichner. (Courtesy photo)

    Norwalk Board of Ethics member 2018-2021.

  • Has coordinated community voices around the re-use of Manresa Island.
  • Successfully advocated for millions in additional state funding for afterschool and summer programs.

Platform:

Vocal advocate for women and children at all levels of government, from the U.S. Supreme Court to the Norwalk Common Council.

Is proud to raise her family in Norwalk, and is committed to helping Norwalk prepare for the future while preserving the diversity that makes us unique.

 

 

Barbara Smyth, Democratic incumbent

  • 20-year Norwalk resident.
  • Two-term Common Council member.
  • Barbara Smyth. (Courtesy photo)

    Council president from 2019 to 2020.

  • Community Services and Personnel committee chair.
  • Common Council liaison to Norwalk ACTS.
  • English teacher at Ponus Ridge Middle School and Norwalk High School.
  • Has raised three children here, all graduates of Norwalk Public Schools.
  • Holds a master’s in secondary English education from Fairfield University, and a bachelor’s in communications from  University of Pittsburgh..
  • Prior to teaching, worked in the radio industry for more than fifteen years, both on and off the air, connecting with listeners on a local level.
  • Grew up in Western Pennsylvania where she learned the value of hard work, family, grassroots organizing, and community service.

 

Richard Bonenfant, Republican

  • Lifelong Norwalk resident.
  • Self-employed photographer.
  • Richard Bonefant. (Courtesy photo)

    Common Council former member (seven terms).

  • Human Relations Commission former chair.
  • Has three grown children who graduated from Norwalk Public Schools.
  • Norwalk Exchange Club member.
  • Sons of the American Legion member.
  • Norwalk Seaport Association member.
  • South Norwalk Boat Club member.
  • Knights of Columbus member.

 

 

Lisa Brinton, Independents for Norwalk

  • Norwalk resident since 1998
  • Nearly won the 2019 mayoral election as an independent candidate, receiving 45% of the vote.
  • Lisa Brinton. (Courtesy photo)

    Holds a master’s in public and administrative policy from American University, and a bachelor’s in journalism and mass communications from the University of Utah.

  • Spent 20 years with AT&T, selling infrastructure equipment to telecom companies in the US, Europe and Asia; then five more years as a management consultant.
  • Shifted gears in 2007, founding “Student Newshounds” and teaching Norwalk area elementary and middle school students how to debate and write.
  • Three-time cancer survivor.  Mother of two.
  • Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations member since 2014.
  • League of Women Voters member 2010- 2019.
  • Save Farm Creek (non-profit coastal wetlands protection board) member 2015-2019.
  • NorwalkFirst Political Action Committee (won municipal charter revision ballot initiative) member 2016.
  • Norwalk Public Schools District Data Management Team (State-mandated organization focused on district operations, student assessments and closing the achievement gap) member 2009-2015.
  • R.Ed Apples of Norwalk (local education advocacy group) founder 2009-2015.
  • Roton PTA president 2007-09.

Platform:

Longtime advocate for non-partisan, professional city government, as well as giving a voice to residents regardless of party affiliation and ahead of special interests.

Promises to shed light on city management issues including land use, basic city services, economic development and police/fire/education funding, so residents and local businesses have a better understanding of what’s happening on matters directly affecting their quality of life.

Vows to use taxpayer funds wisely so long-time residents can afford to stay in Norwalk.

 

 

Republican Common Council At Large candidates Enrique Santiago and Matthew Merluzzi do not have bios published.

5 comments

Richard Bonenfant October 27, 2021 at 6:46 am

Hi Nancy, thanks for publishing this guide. I’ve submitted my platform to the media outlets who requested and also to the League of Women Voters.

The biggest issue in Norwalk is overdevelopment, along with the traffic congestion and infrastructure pressures that come with all the recently built and newly proposed apartment complexes. Poor planning and catering to developers instead of residents has put strains on our schools, roads, water and sewer systems and public safety. The large complexes don’t have on site dog walking areas, so the pet owners are using the nearest lawn or city park, and even though there are park rules, there is little enforcement and that becomes a health issue.

Wall Street downtown business owners are trying hard to revitalize the area, and as I pointed out to them, a previous Common Council voted to officially designate the area as a Slum in order to receive some federal funding. The money got siphoned off to other projects by the recipients and the Tyvek centerpiece is an embarrassment for Norwalk. Investors and shop owners want a proven thriving area, not a slum with a stalled low-income housing project.
Many of our flooding issues could be mitigated with regular maintenance by cleaning the sand and debris out of our storm drains. Also, when homes are built near wetlands, the new drainage schemes merely divert water and flooding towards somewhere else.

We need to get back to in person City meetings. Elected and appointed officials have been hiding behind Zoom on their computers for too long and are pushing through their agendas without having to look at the public, and if a resident wants to speak they have no idea how many are in line before them so they simply leave the meeting. Public Hearings are meaningless when decisions have already been made, so people don’t bother to waste their time trying to participate.

I have great respect for our Police and Fire personnel who protect us, as well as our City workers who do the best they can with the resources they are given. All three of my grown kids went through the Norwalk Public Schools and that worked out fine. As a former Land Use & Building Chair, working with city staff we renovated many school facilities and built the Central Firehouse.

Best Wishes for your news site.

piberman October 27, 2021 at 11:55 am

Any candidates with senior business, financial or management backgrounds concerned about professionalizing our local City government ? Moving to a Professional City Manager as have half the cities across the nation ? Reducing taxes ?

Any candidates concerned about the surge in renters about to become a majority in Norwalk making us a “renters City” joining the ranks with Bridgeport, et al ?

Any candidates concerned why our eyesore depressed Downtown remains an embarrassment lacking office buildings or major employers with good jobs ? Or largely deserted day and night ?

Any candidates concerned why Norwalk remains the County’s most transient City – the “in and out City” ? Or why our surrounding towns have attractive Downtorwns and high performing public school systems while we pay comparable public employees salaries ?

Any candidates concerned our focus is attracting more developers bringing renters rather than major new business to our City ? Or are they satisfied we draw low pay low tax “big box” ?

Any candidates concerned Norwalk is CT’s only City w/o a 4 year college ?

Any candidates concerned our City Hall ought be properly located Downtown to help create and nurture a viable Downtown where residents and visitors congregate ?

Any candidate concerned with our continuing 10% poverty rate ? Or the sharp contrast between our leafy surrounding suburbs and depressed lower income center/downtown ?

Any candidate concerned that few of our public school grads ever remain in Norwalk as adults building families giving continuity to our City ?

Any candidate ever wonder how Stamford, once not much different than Norwalk, became a booing modern City with good jobs, a real Downtown with office buildings ?

John O'Neill October 27, 2021 at 1:19 pm

When I look at some of these resumes I’m pretty damn impressed. Then I look at some of there positions and I ask myself how can anyone that smart be that wrong about something (I’m trying to be polite by the way) We don’t need academically smart people, we need people with common sense. Holy Cow —
Lisa Brinton knows her stuff (By the way, I wouldn’t know Lisa if we were the only two people in a room.). She’s willing to get her hands dirty and has thick skin. We’ll need that in the next few years. I view some of Dems as Bob Duff acolytes — You may know Bob, he’s the guy that thru Norwalk Cops under the bus before last election. These misguided souls actually supported his “mistruths” about what happened….At least that’s my opinion

Joseph Oliveri October 27, 2021 at 2:03 pm

For the first time in many years I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for. I don’t think this is the time for candidates with extreme political beliefs in either direction. The country is in a very unstable place.
Aren’t there any moderates left, or do they just not want to be bothered with all this ugliness?

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