NORWALK, Conn. – Two-time Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton announced Thursday that a new political organization, Independents for Norwalk, will launch a “kick off campaign” Monday, June 14, at B.J. Ryan’s BANC House in Central Norwalk. “The public, regardless of party affiliation is invited,” the announcement said. It did not say what time the event is.
Brinton’s press release said she “is seeking and promised to bring an array of independent-minded candidates focused on Norwalk—not the current more hard-lined, two party system—for the expressed purpose of focusing on Norwalk residents, its neighborhoods and city services.” It twice mentions a “slate” for the new group but focuses on Brinton’s thoughts and background, without mentioning what office she might be seeking, if any.
“It’s not about me,” Brinton is quoted as saying. “It’s about we. It’s about residents.”
The release leads by describing Brinton as “an advocate for more professional local government and increased state funding for Norwalk’s over-crowded schools over the years.” It says she “resolved to give residents their voices back by bringing a slate of candidates to the 2021 municipal ballot that will represent the people of Norwalk, not party or special interests.”
Brinton did not respond to multiple emails and a phone call, seeking specifics. Rumor has it she is running for Council at Large. One of the emails asked if that’s correct, and she did not respond.
NancyOnNorwalk was not able to connect with Town Clerk Rick McQuaid to get clarity – is Independents for Norwalk a newly formed political party? Is it a Political Action Committee? Has Brinton filed papers to run for an office?
The State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) website had no information on Independents for Norwalk.
Brinton has twice challenged Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling, first in 2017 as an unaffiliated candidate in a field of four Mayoral contenders, and two years ago as the endorsed Republican candidate, although she remained unaffiliated.
Her press release refers to her 2019 campaign, in which she received 44.5% of the vote, as “strong.” She has said that although Rilling got about the same percentage of votes as he did in 2017, he actually got 6% less because he faced Democratic former State Rep. Bruce Morris as one of his opponents in that contest, and Morris got 6% of the vote.
After the 2019 election, Brinton formed a Political Action Committee (PAC), UDrive Norwalk. Last fall, she unveiled a UDrive website, offering statistics, many bolstering the points Brinton tried to make in her two Mayoral runs. It’s a dashboard – better than the Mayor’s dashboard, she said, because it offers “benchmark metrics of comparing Norwalk to other cities and towns around Connecticut.”
She said it was not a prelude to another Mayoral run.
In mid-October, the website’s counter reported it had garnered 1,808 visits. Early Friday, the website reported 6,525 visits. NancyOnNorwalk checks it from time to time, and has consistently see it report 20-30 visits per day.
UDrive’s Facebook page has 142 likes and 152 followers. The last post was in March.
The Independents for Norwalk press release said Patrick Cooper is its treasurer. A Facebook page for the political organization is obviously new, as it had zero followers early Friday.
“In order to address the city’s surge in population, long-term ability to fund schools and city services, while also protecting the city’s natural assets, Brinton wants residents to have another choice on the ballot this November,” the press release said.
“Local government must more strongly advocate for residents when it comes to sustainable planning and zoning and fairer school funding‑one that benefits ordinary Norwalk residents, not the current practice favoring developers, law firms, consultants and town cronies.”
Lauren Gray, Rilling for Mayor campaign spokeswoman, responded, “It’s good when more people get involved and participate in the democratic process. Norwalk is heading in the right direction, and we have a strong slate of Democrats, starting with Mayor Rilling at the top of the ticket, to continue moving Norwalk forward as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The press release called Brinton a “25-year veteran of the corporate world and 15-year civic volunteer.”
“By now, those familiar with my efforts over the years, know I don’t care about political parties. My loyalty is to Norwalk,” she is quoted as saying. “Concentrated power has created an environment where local government transparency and accountability has all but disappeared. Years of private caucus meetings have thwarted public discussion and debate over critical issues like population density, planning and zoning, city services and economic policy. The status quo has immensely benefitted from the pandemic—destroying any balance over city hall’s current power structure.”
The release points out that, “By city charter, Norwalk’s municipal government is designed as a weak mayor/strong council.”
“The 15-member common council is supposed to represent the five specific city districts and their issues, with two voices each, along with 5 at-large members charged with considering the entire city,” it states, quoting Brinton as asking, “Is that what residents see or experience?”
It then criticizes the State legislative districts in Norwalk, although no one at the municipal level has any control over their boundaries.
“The state has also gerrymandered the city such that it has only two exclusive, dedicated state reps for the 137th and 140th districts out of 5 congressional districts,” it states. “Norwalk shares the others, including a state senator with ‘leafy’ (upscale) municipalities that have very different needs. Other major cities in Connecticut enjoy 4 or 5 dedicated state representatives.”
“It explains a lot of what is happening to Norwalk,” Brinton is quoted as saying.
The election held this fall is for municipal representatives. State representation will be decided in 2022.
“Approximately 43% of registered voters in Norwalk are either unaffiliated or independent, meaning they are not allowed to vote in primaries or have any voice regarding candidates placed on the ballot,” the press release states. “Brinton again vowed that her newly-formed Independents for Norwalk slate will be committed to using taxpayer funds more wisely for the people of Norwalk versus third-party special interests.”
“Long-time residents and homeowners deserve to stay in Norwalk and enjoy the kind of quality of life that such a naturally beautiful and culturally diverse city like ours should offer—provided it is represented by a well-run, professionally managed city government,” Brinton is quoted as saying.
Acting Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Fred Wilms said he intends to attend the Independents for Norwalk kickoff event.
“I expect to meet people who are independent,” he said. “Looks like maybe they want to get the local independent party resurrected.”
Wilms, former District 142 State Representative, said he’d been endorsed by the Independent Party four times in his state races and, “I’m very comfortable with the Independent Party.”
Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez characterized the press release as “vague” and said it left her with more questions than answers.
Correction, 2:32 p.m.: Event is June 14.