NORWALK, Conn. — Lisa Brinton is challenging State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) in this fall’s election. That makes two opponents for Duff, Brinton on the Independent Party line and Daniel Miressi on the Republican line.
Brinton, who has run for Mayor twice, founded Independents for Norwalk last year. Her Monday news release describes her as an “Independent turned third party activist,” and a “tireless advocate for education and housing reform.”
“Brinton wants to call attention to Hartford policies adversely impacting Norwalk’s education and environment, as well as, election reform.,” the news release said. “Doubling the size of cities, without regard to the impact on schools, roads, infrastructure and the environment is a problem. State funding for education hasn’t kept pace with Norwalk’s high need student population.”
“Hartford finds money for a regional high school, but can’t fund reading and math?” she is quoted as saying. “They claim to want to grow industries like financial services, manufacturing, bioscience, software and renewable energy. How will Norwalk compete when nearly half its students aren’t reading on grade level?”
The news release claims that Norwalk’s “academic performance has declined during Duff’s 18-year tenure” and says Brinton blames this on “Hartford’s housing and education funding policies.”
Duff did not reply to an email giving him a chance to respond to the Independent’s news release. He is seeking a tenth two-year term. District 25 comprises all of Norwalk and part of Darien.
Brinton’s news release states, “For Darien voters thinking Brinton’s emphasis on Norwalk too strong, she pointed out, ‘A healthy Norwalk is good for neighboring towns. Darien is impacted by Norwalk’s state concerns and would also benefit from election reform.’”
Miressi also did not reply to an email giving him a chance to respond to Brinton’s announcement.
Miressi was born in Norwalk and raised in Monroe, and first registered to vote in Norwalk three days before the convention, according to Republican Registrar Brian Smith.
State records show that Miressi has not attempted to qualify for a Citizen’s Election Program funding grant. He has not filed any documents showing fundraising results. In early June, Miressi checked a box saying he is “exempt from forming a candidate committee” because he was funding his own campaign and did not intend to raise seek contributions. The form indicates that he didn’t intend to spend more than $1,000.
On Sept. 7, Miressi reversed that course, filing an amended form saying he is forming a candidate committee and appointing Stephen Hill of Milford as his treasurer.
He has a new website, which states that he’ll be able to accept donations this week.
The Duff campaign had $117,115 on hand as of June 30, after a $99,500 shot in the arm from CEP funds landed, campaign documents show. The next filing is due Sept. 10.
NancyOnNorwalk received an email Monday alleging that Norwalk Republicans were pulling Miressi from the ballot.
Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Fred Wilms responded to that and Brinton’s announcement by saying, “Lisa running for State Senate is not surprising. The Independent Party is looking to run their own candidates wherever possible. Daniel is the GOP certified candidate. Both will be on the ballot this November.”
Brinton’s Independents for Norwalk also announced Monday that Katherine Snedaker is running to be a registrar of voters. See separate story.
“Brinton is committed to bringing a viable independent third party to Norwalk and the state,” her news release said. “‘More choices, means more voices, and that’s good for democracy. “Bad policies, not personalities or parties hurt average residents.’”
Monday’s news release explains that Brinton grew up in Utah and her 25-year career as an executive in telecommunications took her to Asia and Europe. She moved to Norwalk in 1998.
“Following multiple bouts with cancer, she retired early to focus on family. An advocate of more open discussion and common sense policies in government, she narrowly lost her 2019 mayoral bid against incumbent, Harry Rilling, running as an Independent, cross endorsed by the Republican Party. In 2021, she resurrected the statewide Independent Party for the City of Norwalk. She and 14 other bi-partisan candidates ran for common council, Board of Education and other municipal offices. While only winning one office, the Independent Party received nearly 30 percent of the vote in most of their campaigns.”
Rilling won in 2019 with about 55% of the vote. In 2017, when Brinton was one of four candidates for Mayor, he won with about 56% of the vote.
Brinton was the only Common Council at large candidate presented by Independents for Norwalk in its nascent effort last year. She came in last. Her four Independent Board of Education candidates, also running city-wide, got more votes than she did.
The lone successful Independents’ candidate was Andy Meyerson, who handily beat Democrat Priscilla Feral to become a Sixth Taxing District Commissioner.
In March, Brinton became a member of the Independent Party State Central Committee member, she said. She is working to form a Norwalk Independent Party Town Committee.
“Like the state, over 40% of voters do not identify with either major party,” he news release said.
“We lag most states in election reform like open primaries, equal ballot access, early in-person voting, or Ranked Choice,” she is quoted as saying. “Both parties claim and counter claim a desire for fairer and freer elections – yet refuse to put in-place reforms that would increase turnout, improve proportional representation, increase checks and balances and transparency or tamp down party extremism.”
The release further quotes her as saying:
“Norwalk is now more densely populated than Stamford. In 2018, we sent $155M in income taxes from working and middle class residents to Hartford, ranking us 8 out of 169 municipalities. We send millions in sales tax revenues and get little back. Between tax incentives for developers and unfair state funding, Norwalk struggles to fund its declining school system or fund basic services without continuing to raise property taxes.
“When it comes to our infrastructure’s ability to support the increased density, look no further than the impact on our roads and sewers. Traffic is unbearable and Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) just ordered Norwalk to clean up its water treatment system, after dumping raw and undertreated sewage in the Sound.”
Rilling signed a DEEP consent order in early May, agreeing that the city will hire consultants and update its Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan by Sept. 30 and complete a facility plan update by June 30.
The order also notes that treatment plant microscreens were said to be out of service in 2017 and have not been repaired. Because of that, sewage has been dumped “without the equivalent of primary treatment” during wet weather, since May 17, 2017.
In a separate issue, DEEP states that the Ann Street siphon emergency overflow released raw sewage into the Norwalk River on June 28, 2018, and Aug. 22, 2016. DEEP orders that the siphon be eliminated from the system.