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Growing up in the era before the internet, smartphones, emails, and Zoom, the importance of in-person meetings and sitting across the table from your colleagues, business representatives, and most important locally, your city officials, was very high. This was how business was conducted and if there was no meeting, business was not conducted. Phone calls were used in a limited fashion and a handshake finalized business after signing papers.

Today, that is lost on our local representatives in Norwalk who have gotten comfortable at home with a Laissez-Faire attitude towards city issues. City Hall continues to operate in a limited manner, City meetings are still being conducted via Zoom, and the biggest question mark is the Norwalk Superior Court. While Stamford handles our caseload, our city court continues to be shuttered even today without a rational justification. Our residents and businesses in Norwalk experience long delays and frustration trying to contact, get responses, and conduct business with City Hall.

Anyone with a legal matter, whether that be business, criminal, housing, protective, or others are forced to travel to Stamford to handle their legal issues. Not only is this a major inconvenience for those who use public transportation, but also time consuming for both public transportation and those who have personal transportation. The backlog of cases and judicial proceedings is abysmal and a failure of our government.

Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Costco, and Stop & Shop amongst other large chains never closed during the entirety of the COVID Pandemic. However, City Hall remained closed for over a year to the public, and with the current limited services the question remains, WHY?? I was appalled and stunned to hear from my neighbors, voters around the city, and business owners trying to secure permits, pay fees, and get approvals from City Hall, that there is limited in-person appointments, if any at all, and inquires go unanswered for days, sometimes over a week. I am repeatedly told, “Go drive by City Hall, you’ll notice the mayor’s parking spot is always empty.”

This begs the question, is our leadership asleep at the wheel and coasting down the Zoom road? Who is running Norwalk and where are our property tax dollars at work? Photo ops are not meaningful, being able to conduct city hall business and get a meeting with our elected officials is. It’s no wonder Wall Street is a disaster, city projects move at a snail’s pace, South Norwalk doesn’t have a school, and the sheer amount of meetings to get something done is ridiculous.

Upon being elected Mayor this coming November, I pledge I will immediately open City Hall back to full operations and do everything in my power to reopen Norwalk Superior Court. During my tenure City Hall will never close its doors to the public and I will be present at all times available for meetings with my constituents. My administration will take every precaution to protect its employees, while keeping the access opened to the public and run this government efficiently. I will cut wasteful spending, red tape that slows progress in city hall, and identify deficiencies to implement new city hall processes to speed up turnaround times for inquires, permits, applications, and other city business. My administration will end the current City Hall headaches you all are experiencing.

City Government is a vital operation for individuals and businesses each and every day. There is not one reason why our government cannot run at full capacity, other than the poor leadership inhibiting the operations every Norwalker needs and paid for already. Norwalk collects close to $400 million of Norwalkers’ hard earned money, the least our city government can do is open the doors so we, the people, can get the service we already paid for.

Jonathan Riddle

Republican candidate for Norwalk Mayor

6 comments

Sue Haynie October 7, 2021 at 7:43 am

Mayor Rilling and his full-time Assistant Mayor have been hiding in their basements for the last 2 years. Why are Norwalk taxpayers paying for two mayors who can’t even figure out how to open City Hall?

Mr. Riddle has my vote. Norwalk needs a real Mayor.

David Osler October 7, 2021 at 8:12 am

John you’ve got my vote the red tape in City Hall needs to be fixed the capriciousness of various departments needs to be addressed I suspect their issues are a combination of systemic problems passed between departments poor regulations and leadership without drive. I mean just look at the thing with the parks those regulations need to be redone. I know we officially only have like two dog parks I don’t even own a dog but pretty much every single town park with the exception of calf pasture should probably be more accommodating I know you could block off a portion of Woodward Park as a dog park and nobody would complain it would probably be a good thing for the taxpayers as far as oyster shell Park outside of the kids playground I don’t think anybody does anything there except walk their dog I’m pointing out that because that’s a no-brainer issue with regulations and the disconnect between the government we are subject to and the needs of our community

DryAsABone October 7, 2021 at 9:57 am

Meanwhile, up in Bridgeport:
BRIDGEPORT — City Council members are seeking to reassure antsy municipal unions that at least some of their members will see bonuses from Bridgeport’s $110 million share of the American Rescue Plan.

Next door,in Stamford, City Hall has been “open”…pretty much ground floor only.
As predicted, state/local governments have taken almost two years off,full pay, while the public suffers.
Typical Corrupticut.

Justin Matley October 8, 2021 at 7:30 am

Sigh. This is the visionary Republican Party of Norwalk? How has the potential for a proud and vigorous second major political party in this city devolved into the “Open City Hall” party? That’s it? That’s what it stands for?

Listen, I don’t disagree. While City Hall is, frankly, mostly open and certainly functioning mostly as-is, I do agree the imagery at this point isn’t great. It could stand to be more public facing now. But, we have now heard twice from Mr. Riddle, and his argument for being mayor are no better than the “Rent is Too Damn High” guy who ran in NYC. Hey, at least he had a concrete goal.

“Masks don’t work” and “open city hall” are the publicly stated policy agenda and vision of Mr. Riddle. That’s it. That’s the entire Republican mayoral platform. Both flawed arguments unto themselves, but goofy at best as a major political party’s agenda for running a nearly 100k resident city.

Once again, I don’t question Mr. Riddle as a man. I’m sure he’s a good guy. I blame his party more than him for this rudderless flailing of messaging. I wish there was a real debate to be had here for the executive office, but until that party can muster up something more than the policy platform equivalent of one of those inflatable tube guys flailing its arms in the sky, I’ll sit here chucking peanuts. This city has to do better than that.

CT-Patriot October 8, 2021 at 8:02 am

Ask yourselves…if all city employees were mandated to be vaccinated and tested weekly, why is city hall closed or limited while everyday people can walk into retail stores to conduct business?

Doesn’t the mayor and all of those in local government believe in science?

You’re vaccinated for Christ sake and I’m sure there are plastic barriers in city hall as well.

Mayor Rilling do your job! Go to work, tell your staff and every single person that calls city hall their place of employment to get to work or resign and I’m sure we can find people to replace you.

What? Waiting for Federal funds to bail you out due to Covid?

What do you say to thousands of residents going to work every day with or without vaccine jabs?

You sir, show lack of leadership.

This next election cannot come soon enough!

Nora King October 10, 2021 at 10:27 am

@JustinMatley. I am tired of political parties. However Riddle does have a point….the town hall is not fully open and operational. Enough with the zoom meetings, the mayor not showing up for BOE meetings when he is a member, and the lack of being able to reach people. Email should not replace open and honest in person communication. Deanna in the health department has been allowed to continue to use Covid as an excuse for so much in our schools. Let’s vote for fresh and new ideas this November. Independents all the way!

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