NORWALK, Conn. — Lisa Brinton has released her platform in her effort to be the next Mayor of Norwalk, ahead of her community town forums.
Adam Wood, campaign spokesperson for incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling, sharply criticized the platform, calling it “convenient because the Mayor has already implemented most of what she says she will do or already has it in process.”
Brinton, an unaffiliated voter who is appearing on the Republican line of the ballot, plans two community conversations, one from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 10 (today) at Brien McMahon High School and the other planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at Norwalk High School. “She will present her platform for reform based on her assessment of Norwalk’s fiscal health and her ideas for change,” a press release said.
“Norwalk must remain an affordable and livable community where residents and small businesses are heard when deciding our future,” Brinton states in her platform. “I’ll bring stronger, more inclusive leadership and smarter financial management to preserve Norwalk’s economic health & quality of life. My reform platform brings accountability, balance and change to City Hall for a healthy, affordable and more economically balanced future, with initiatives that ensure residents are treated evenly and fairly, while providing an economic plan for Norwalk’s success.”
Rilling is seeking a fourth two-year term. Brinton was one of three challengers in the 2017 election.
Brinton’s “Reform and Prosperity” platform:
Quality of Life Management
- “Stand up for Norwalk residents. Residents are increasingly concerned about uncertain tax hikes and a diminishing quality of life due to increased density and a lack of specific goals or caps by the city. Our schools, roads and city services are overwhelmingly impacted. My first responsibility is to advocate for residents, not the policies of a specific political party, special interests or the state.
- “Protect neighborhoods with updated zoning regulations. Norwalk’s rich history cannot be lost to oversized, unsightly development based on tax credits while routine neighborhood maintenance suffers. Development must be smart, scaled and pay for itself. I’ll continue to advocate for updated zoning regulations to reflect more form-based zoning, focused on building facades and public realm, size, scale, types of streets and architectural design instead of overly specific and often contradictory abstract metrics which miss their intended purpose, creating loopholes and abuse for those with deep pockets.
- “Create a Livable Norwalk inspection program to address the rental market including review and enforcement of quality of life ordinances. Norwalk’s multi-unit rental market now constitutes nearly 50% of housing stock. The city needs to ensure units are safe and up to building code in order to minimize accidents, protect taxpayers from liabilities and ensure appropriate tax revenues are collected. Ordinances haven’t kept pace with recent developments or population boom. Noise, blight, parking, traffic, apartment occupancy, and health and safety ordinances must be reviewed. The new program will be paid through a combination of restructuring of the mayor’s public relations unit and raising user fees for multi-unit landlords.
- “Fund master plans for parks and recreation facilities. Norwalk parks offer diverse recreational opportunities for residents. Unfortunately, improvements have been underfunded for years. Increased population demands our greatest assets be preserved for the next generation. I’ll focus attention on restoring open space in South Norwalk, as well as improving the tree canopy in urban areas. Restoring recreational space for Norwalk’s disengaged youth must be addressed given the YMCA loss and uncertain future of SONOCC.
- “Introduce a traffic safety enforcement schedule. Build on my support of the Vision Zero Traffic Safety Initiative by proactively implementing measures to insure our roads are as safe as possible for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Institute a routinely scheduled police presence at specific locations to reduce motorist speeding and traffic violations.”
Leadership & Political Culture Reform
- “Implement an inclusive and transparent process for political appointments. Although the charter promotes Norwalk as a strong council weak mayor system, the mayor wields much ‘hidden’ power through appointments to dozens of city boards and commissions. As our city grows in complexity, “I’ll put safeguards in place to ensure that the best qualified citizens serve versus patronage appointments.
- “Mandate ethics training for every city worker and political appointee. Establish a zero-tolerance policy regarding patronage or the “friends and family” culture with city contracts. Support ordinances requiring full disclosure of contributions from bidders and contractors.
- “Establish charter revision task force. As the primary framework for political and operational functions, the city charter affects all government functions. Establish a task force to review and address shortfalls and map out a more effective 21st Century structure and present it to the public for comments before a formal charter commission is formed. A series of public review sessions will be held before any ballot consideration.
- “Review City Hall communication. Acknowledging that the public uses, receives and prefers various methods of communication, I’ll insist City Hall review its policies to ensure timely notification of upcoming events, programs, sustainability initiatives, public meetings and new developments.”
Financial Management Reform & Economic Development
- “Review budgeting process and audit third party agencies. Improve departmental cost controls by standardizing performance metrics focused on supporting residents and examining outcome-based budgeting for more transparent use of taxpayer dollars by instituting a compensation structure for top administrators tied to measurable goals.
- “Upgrade IT databases and practices of building, zoning and tax records. Over 85 percent of our city revenue is derived from property taxes. City databases don’t interface properly, resulting in inefficiencies, delays and inaccuracies between various departments, which impact city functions from planning and zoning, to permits, land assessments and ultimately property taxes.
- “Support local businesses with best practices and smart development. Oppose revision of the (POKO) Agreement. I support affordable housing in Fairfield County based on rent paid, not government defined, crony capitalism, concentrated in fortress apartments at great expense to taxpayers, which still fails to serve our most vulnerable. I’ll advocate for restoration of the Wall Street train station, Garden Cinema and Main Library and work with local businesses to formulate city wide parking plans conducive to growing customers, not chasing them away.
- “Advocate 90-day moratorium on Walk Bridge project. Formally request the governor impose a 90-day review period for the project to assess true costs and alternative solutions directed at minimizing operational and economic impact on residents and businesses in East and South Norwalk. We have one of the longest coastlines in Connecticut and remain the state’s number one oyster producer. Environmental impacts must be safeguarded. I’ll also undertake a review of the needs and opportunities for the Upper Harbor as it ties to the bridge replacement. IMAX Theater replacement costs must be reviewed, as well as the compensation due Norwalk for the disruption associated with this project.
- “Build on Manresa Study. Explore as a marina and solar farm for the Federal Marine Highway Project. Expand the under-usage of America’s navigable waterways, as the next least expensive option of coal-ash remediation needed to address Manresa’s former power plant life. Norwalk has the local expertise of a designer and builder of hybrid shipping vessels, putting us at the forefront of this green initiative with owner NRG. This would draw on “Norwalk’s maritime history and minimize disruption in Norwalk’s Harbor, leaving it for pleasure craft, shellfish and small fishing. The plant, an eyesore, with diminishing property tax receipts, must be addressed.
- “Support economic development focused on trades and technical jobs. Drawing on my personal business and education experience, I’ll adopt city-wide strategies further integrating our high schools with Norwalk Community College, local business and technical trades. Norwalk has a long history of creating goods and services. When combined with a tight knit trade community, we can jump start a service incubator for technical trades, culinary, medical and maritime fields. I will also explore recruiting a national university for a satellite campus in Norwalk.
- “Seek supplemental school funding from third parties and increase overall city grant writing. Dedicated resources are needed to pursue city grants directed at reducing the tax burden on residents for different city departments. Millions are distributed each year by federal, state, non-profit and corporate foundations. Education alone represents 54% of the budget and is growing. I support the on-going improvements in Norwalk’s schools and spending focused on students, but will build on my 12 years of district and state activism to pursue state and third-party financing for unfunded mandates associated with spiked enrollment. I’ll promote the success of our urban school district for supplemental funding via grants, and partner with corporate and non-profit foundations for career opportunities.”
‘Plagiarizing’ Rilling’s ‘good work’
“At best, Lisa Brinton is not paying attention to what’s happening in Norwalk. At worst, she’s plagiarizing the good work the City of Norwalk already has underway.
“Lisa’s platform is convenient because the Mayor has already implemented most of what she says she will do or already has it in process. It’s 2019, but the most fitting proverb to describe this platform was written almost two hundred years ago, ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’
“The Mayor’s opponent wants to protect neighborhoods? Then she should thank the Mayor for building out a neighborhood improvement team for the first time in Norwalk’s history, for pursuing responsible community development and for lowering crime in every neighborhood across the city.
“She wants to fund a park’s master plan? Norwalk is already doing this. She should thank the Mayor for hiring talented staff to lead this project and the council for approving funding for this plan.
“She is worried about uncertain tax-hikes? Everyone is. She should thank the Mayor and his team for keeping the mill rate low, for strong fiscal management and conservative budgeting. Most single-family homeowners saw a tax decrease this year, and because of the Mayor’s strong financial management, Norwalk is well-positioned to weather economic uncertainty for years to come.”