Is a little change in Norwalk’s governance too much to ask? Yes, according to the editorialists at The Norwalk Hour, it is too much to ask.
Instead we should have a fourth term for Mayor Harry Rilling. For six years already, Norwalkers have watched a city government that seems almost bored with the idea of doing anything about anything. But the Hour says we need two more.
A prime example is the controversy over replacing the Walk Bridge, the vital North-South commuter rail link. On this, the mayor has been typically mum, content to let the state bureaucracy in Hartford call the shots, while ignoring the clamor for someone (the mayor, maybe?) to assert Norwalk’s interests.
What Hartford came up with is a plan to foist an overly-expensive monstrosity on Norwalk, construction of which, unless it is re-thought, will take forever and wreck the commerce and attractions of our historic waterfront area. Unfortunately the mayor has turned ducking challenges into an art form.
Actually then, we need something more than a little change. We need real adjustments in the way Norwalk governs itself — changes that offers a better vision for what Norwalk can be in the years ahead. We need a certain vigor and energy in pushing toward a quality of life that matches the rich assets of its people and location. With The Hour’s choice, we get none of that.
Anyone who has chatted even briefly with Lisa Brinton about her bid for the mayor’s job knows she is able and determined to bring that change. There’s one statistic in particular that Brinton keeps emphasizing, which captures everything that threatens Norwalk’s future. It is that the value of the “grand list” – the sum of all the taxable property in Norwalk – has grown 12 percent since the revaluation in 2013, but this growth comes at a high price for taxpayers since Rilling’s operating budget in that same period has grown 24 percent.
For Norwalkers interested in reigning in that great growing useless bloat at City Hall, the next opportunity comes at the ballot box on Tuesday.