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Common Council At-Large: Patricia Agudow

Patricia Agudow. (Contributed)

At Large, Independent

  • 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 career spanned four decades and began in Human Resources leadership and elevated into general corporate leadership roles.  This consisted of developing business strategies and implementing them focused upon creating Organizational Models & effective, collaborative Leadership Teams. My work was mostly in GLOBAL High-Tech, Manufacturing & Reinsurance corporations.  In my general leadership experience, the Leadership Team was expected to understand, advise, & input on all aspects of business operations; this means my experience includes finance, global merger/acquisitions – due diligence & post close onboarding, consultant management; Board of Director Relations; and all-important organizational modelling.  My experience also includes the great privilege to work with Federal Government Representatives on Solar Energy initiatives. Presently, I have the distinct opportunity to use all my corporate leadership experience and consult with non-profit local Norwalk agencies to assist their strategy and leader development.  

On the Common Council at Large, I hope to continue to serve on the Board of Ethics; it matches that the Human Relations Committee would be a good use of my experience.  Lastly, I would like to join Planning & Zoning because I have abilities to enable an effective team and, believe it, I have been around construction most of my life and can handle actual plans, construction sites, & infrastructure issues.   I would welcome serving on the next Charter Revision Commission as results of revisions made do impact the Board of Ethics training in development. 

2. 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? 

I strongly support the Charter Revision as presented on the 2023 ballot to be passed.  While this represents a major revision this time, charter revision should be ongoing & become part of proper City governance.  That activity should be smaller in scope so that it is simpler for the citizens to understand and maintain for the needed changes as we go.  My top three priorities for continued business:  

2a. Increasing term length to four years for Mayor & Common Council (perhaps staggered election for CC so as not to lose all knowledge in one election).  It is best this was not part of the Charter Revision on the ballot THIS TIME. However, we have become a large City, not a town or village.  It is complex to run this City & the major issues we are and will face. Having an elected official just settle and then after one year in office, the focus shifts to re-election is not efficient any longer.  I have seen this dysfunction in DC with House Representative Congressmen, and I feel the same on their two year terms.  The first year they barely got an office with enough furniture and staff before time to run again.  Most importantly, the issues we face now are larger in scope and have ramifications for decades to come.  I believe that more time is needed to understand the implications of larger decisions to be made; seek the PEOPLE’s INPUT PRIOR TO DECISIONS; analyze and then begin the process of enacting change or saying NO to a change not in the best interest of our Citizens.

2b.  Term Limits for the top roles in the City. This would provide check and balance to increasing a term for Mayor and the Common Council.  I would start with these positions, possibly extending to other elected roles in the future.  Serving in Government is not a lifetime promise; it seems we need to insure change of ideas and experiences periodically, If we had a four year term; then perhaps a two term limit works.  This requires study by a new Charter Committee.

2.c  Inclusion of a City Manager position.  This role would be appointed by the Common Council vs, a Chief of Staff role appointed by the mayor.

2.d  Under any unfinished business, a Committee should insure that we are no longer a Mayoral Centric Control;  I would be supportive of having Shared Mayor/Common Council City Control.  Again, we are getting too large to have one person with powers that can be unilateral (NOT in all things but in many as is current Charter); it would be an element of governance to have shared powers of operation.  

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

No; I do not support citizen boards with no policing experience or experience in law enforcement review.  There are many laws to ensure police accountability, and I feel those are working fine in our city. If or when the current review laws do not work correctly, we must fix the laws expeditiously.

4. 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.

First, I am not a parent; so I am in an accelerated learning mode on these issues.  I do understand people, however, and I understand what makes an effective process when sides negotiate for their position(s).  Often sides believe so strongly they cannot see the forest for the trees.  I do believe in two major elements in BOE and education matters for Norwalk.  First, each side needs to remember, the ‘forest’ that get lost for the trees is our STUDENTS – so the focus needs to be keenly on them, Second, in the process of educating our children in a high-quality school system, we must insure NORWALK GETS THE FUNDS PER STUDENT from HARTFORD increased.  We should not be the 2nd lowest per student, rather one of the top 3 in FUNDS PER STUDENT.  Perhaps that can help us close the internal gaps and help a budget that creates stress on the financial governance of our City year after year.   I am very capable of learning and understanding the specifics of the matters of being a parent or not; I just do not have the depth of focus on the elements of each issue; I am a fast learner.

 5. “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?

Since I do much of my volunteer work with the persons and families below the poverty line, I see that this as more the focus of having housing affordability.  People emerging from homelessness need access and sustain themselves in the City in which many were raised, too. I do agree with Bryan Meek that it is no one’s right to be able to live in Norwalk or lower Fairfield County.  However, cities have diverse populations — all cities in Connecticut.  We need to study and merge that fact into our City housing plans.  Norwalk already exceeds State requirements.  I am talking about those people who don’t come close to $84,233 per year.  It is time to keep a focus on what is happening to the people that Open Doors or The Pacific Project/House serve.  With all our development of our apartments, we are pushing many out of their housing, literally, that they can barely afford now in order to remain out of homelessness.  There are two projects under consideration & development for true affordable housing for this population to be able to pay the rent and remain on the homeless prevention path. Let’s have more than the two projects proposed for Berkeley St and another just proposed on/near Butler.

Second, returning to the broader matter of affordable housing, I do believe we should have some condominiums inside these apartment boxes & planned communities.  Have some home choices for the other people who want to move to Norwalk.  Have smaller home choices, like a condo.  Many of us came to home ownership here via a condo; I did, and it is called Rolling Ridge.  One benefit for those that want to own vs rent is Norwalk grows or maintains its tax base.  Remember, citizens are facing reevaluation.  

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

Norwalk must have an Environmental Plan that imbeds resilient practices and zero carbon footprint plans to be considered for inclusion.  However, I do not believe it is Norwalk’s role to tell private businesses and organizations how exactly to reach a zero-carbon footprint and then have to oversee such implementation when we have our own house to protect.  Norwalk can lead by example for the other types of establishments.  More and more importantly, we have critical INFRASTRUCTURE matters to get to goals of zero.  For example, the one on many citizens’ minds is our wastewater treatment plant and supporting systems.  Our current administration believes they have shining results. It is not a widespread citizens belief we can handle what population wastewater we have presently, nevermind post all of the rapid approvals for more Box Apartment communities.  Let us work on the City’s House first; then take the best practices we find and share them.  I would leave further environmental goals to the State or Federal governments to legislate and exact requirements.  

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