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Common Council At-Large: Greg Burnett

At-Large, Democrat, incumbent

Greg Burnett. (Contributed)
  • Describe how your occupation will assist you in serving Norwalk and give three brief but specific examples, including what committees on which you hope to serve.

My professional background includes over 35 years of technical and managerial experience in the corporate sector developing a skillset to appropriately develop budget decisions and change the variables of a problem to create solutions. As an incumbent I currently serve as Chairperson of the Finance and Claims Committee and have also served on the Land Use and Building Management, Community Services, and Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committees. I currently serve as the President of the Common Council. In each of these positions I collaborate with other Board members and the public to ensure we continue to flourish and thrive in every aspect of life including economic, education, health, safety and wellbeing of all of our stakeholders.   

  • The Norwalk Charter is on the ballot for its first major revision in about 100 years. Assuming it passes, would you support forming a new Charter Revision Commission in the coming term to address unfinished business? What would be your top three priorities for change? Can you explain why?

The current Common Council has invested the past two years to first identify an outstanding Charter Revision Commission and an expert legal consultant to review, assess, conduct departmental and public hearings, and finally recommend the necessary changes to the Charter to make it user friendly, readable, streamline, and current. The recommended changes for public vote in November includes maintaining a two-year mayoral and council term, expanding the police and fire commissions from two to four members, establishing procedures to enhance public participation in the budget process, and required charter review every five years with an initial review in two years. I support continuing the review of the mayoral and council term length, further streamline of government operations and the budget process, and taxing districts. Other areas of review should include revisiting the appointment process of the Library Director and the Common Council stipend allocation. Each of these items continues to modernize our current Charter and enhance operations and standards.         

  • Do you believe Norwalk should have a Civilian Police Review Board and why or why not?

A civilian review board is generally charged with the duty of reviewing complaints and making recommendations as to disciplinary action after the police department has completed its own investigation and made a disciplinary recommendation. The current Charter Revision is recommending increasing the Norwalk police commission from two commissioners to four commissioners. This will provide a greater diversity of thought and input as it relates to overseeing the development and financial aspects of the police department. I support implementing the additional members of the public to the police commission and assessing the effectiveness before pursuing any suggested changes to our current structure.

  • There is a constant public battle between city government, the school board, and concerned citizens. It seems that all are “dug in” with their positions, eager to “defeat” the other to win their own agenda. What would you specifically propose to bring all groups to the table to solve issues rather than fight about them? Policy changes and revisions can certainly be part of your answer.

I am a firm believer that education is ‘the great equalizer’, and all students are entitled to a robust and equitable learning experience. Norwalk’s school system has made tremendous strides continuing to receive the top rating among peer districts. However, to enable our student population to be well-rounded learners who will be fully equipped for their eventual launch into an increasingly competitive world, we must continue to make crucial investments in school infrastructure improvements, new school construction, and delivery of instruction, to ensure that each student possesses the tools and knowledge necessary for their success in the world and workforce of the future. The local City budget must balance the funding for all city departments which includes the Board of Education while maintaining the lowest possible taxes. I will support continuous and constant dialogue amongst all stakeholders which will support compromise and understanding. The Finance Committees of the City and Board of Education have conducted and will continue to hold public meetings emphasizing public participation as it relates to the budget process.       

  • “Housing Affordability” means different things to many people. The current standard is based on the median income of Fairfield County, which is $84,233 per household. A job that pays $30 per hour misses that standard by approximately $22,000. What is your definition of Housing affordability, and do you think the standard should be made more equitable?

One of the greatest challenges facing our community is addressing the needs of our economically diverse community and providing affordable/accessible housing for all. We need to embrace and value our diversity by ensuring responsible growth and economic development that addresses the needs of all people in our community. Housing is essential to a person’s or family’s well-being and I will advocate for ‘work force’ housing opportunities and homeownership solutions. We must provide a community that enables young people the affordability to live and work here as well as supporting our senior population with the ability to stay in their homes that they have invested in their whole lives.

  • What would you propose to move Norwalk’s government agencies, businesses, organizations, and private citizens towards a zero-carbon footprint?

There are several examples as to how we can reduce our carbon footprint such as recycling and reduction. One area of which can have an impact and I would advocate for is improved transportation and mobility.  Norwalk is a growing city and with that comes the necessity for continual investments whether it is road-repair, overhauling the composition and coordination of traffic signals to better maintain the flow of traffic to decrease idling, or improving the transit system, such as local buses, that many of city’s residents rely on to decrease the number of cars on the road. Investing in infrastructure/transportation/mobility is crucial because of the direct impact these have towards reducing our carbon footprint and our daily lives. I would also support continuous investment in electronic vehicles for city departments and encourage local businesses to also embrace this approach.  

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