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Common Council At-Large: Josh Goldstein

At-Large, Democrat

  • 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.
Josh Goldstein. (Contributed)

As a plaintiff’s attorney and a trial lawyer, it is my job to be an advocate for people who have been injured due to negligent and reckless actions. As a council member, I also feel it is a job all about advocacy for constituents and policy priorities that are important to them. As a member of the Ordinance Committee, I constantly use my legal skills to help write/revise ordinances, including being the primary author of Norwalk’s retail cannabis ordinance. I also believe attorneys are trained to think critically and I feel I have brought those skills to bear in my work on both the Recreation and Parks Committee as well as the Public Safety and General Government Committee as well.

  • 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? 

First and foremost, everyone should vote YES for the Charter Revision ballot question. While this revised charter is largely a “clean up job,” there is an understanding that this will not be the end. We know that more discussion/ideas are really important and I think that we need to seriously think about how we go about our operating budget process, as it is quite confusing for everyone involved. Further, we should continue to explore term expansion for the mayor and Common Council members and whether there are options not necessarily for an increase in Council pay, but to provide options such as funds for childcare, so people of all different stages of life can have the opportunity to serve on the Council in the future. Again, I am so appreciative of the work the Charter Revision Committee did and strongly encourage everyone to vote in favor of the Charter ballot question on this year’s ballot.

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

An important note here is if you vote in favor of the Charter ballot question on this year’s ballot, it includes an expansion of the Police Commission from two commissioners to four commissioners. I have spoken publicly in favor of this. Yes, I think there should be a civilian police review board so there can be an external, important venue for independent oversight of civilian complaints of unethical/unprofessional behavior. However, I just want to note that in my time on the Public Safety and General Government Committee, I have found that Norwalk’s Police Department is led by and served by very well-meaning, dedicated public servants who have been very responsive to issues that such a board would be convened for. It has been an absolute honor to work with them and I hope to continue doing so in the future.

  • 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 think that a lot of the tension here is structural. I am not sure I agree with the characterization that everyone is “dug in” as much as city departments, including the Board of Education, are incentivized to try and get as strong a budget as they can, and I totally understand that. I never feel that I want to “beat” the Board of Education or any other department, but as the Council is responsible for setting the mill rate (tax rate), we want to make sure we are not raising property taxes to an unaffordable level. I believe strongly in supporting NPS and have supported more modest budget increases, which have passed. I believe our property taxes should be as low as possible so they can be at a level everyone can afford. Last year’s budget request from NPS was simply unaffordable for Norwalk, as it would have increased everyone’s property taxes between 8-11%. That’s why I did not support it and it was not passed by the Council.

I also think we are already seeing an effort by the BOE and Council to have more joint meetings earlier (as recently as October 18th) ahead of next year’s budget and have a more open process so that we can find a collaborative solution. I felt that this past year’s process did not have any real collaboration and I said as much publicly. I feel that is changing now, and I think it is a welcome change. If re-elected, I hope to continue being part of that change.  

  • “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?

I absolutely think the standard should be more equitable as that standard simply does not effectively aid working people in Norwalk and Fairfield County. As a former member of the Zoning Commission, I saw how even the implementation of workforce housing components in developments do not adequately solve the problem that many working people face – housing costs are just too high. Part of that is also because there is a lot of demand to live in Norwalk, which is great, but the demand vastly outweighs supply. We need to work to smartly and responsibly develop so that everyone can live and afford to live in Norwalk. For example, many City employees who work in Norwalk cannot afford to live here, including over half of Norwalk’s police force and many teachers, public works employees, etc. We have important housing studies that are underway and hopefully should be complete soon. Hopefully, those studies will serve as an effective guide to help us solve this critical issue. The solutions will need to be hard-fought, but the fight is certainly worth it.

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

Good news is, we have made strides here. We are beginning to make our vehicle fleet either hybrid or electric and have worked to make new buildings LEED certified. Moreover, we have worked to increase bike/walkability and public transportation so people do not have to use their cars as frequently, especially in our urban core areas, and have improved sidewalks across Norwalk. In accordance with the efficiency study that occurred last year, the City has made strides to become more environmentally sustainable as well as has produced a master plan for our parks to become more sustainable. As a member of the Ad Hoc Sustainability and Resilience Committee, I have worked to help improve our streets to handle flooding mitigation issues as well as with the creation of a Climate Action plan, which will be an incredibly helpful resource in our effort to make Norwalk as sustainable as possible. There is so much more work to do, and I plan to make this a big focus should I earn re-election. 

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