Common Council At-Large: Rich Bonenfant

At Large, Republican, 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.
Richard Bonenfant. (Contributed)

As a professional photographer specializing in local community events, I am in unique position to easily connect with many people who influence how Norwalk operates. This includes several City officials and personnel, business leaders and civic organizations. While attending various happenings, I get to mingle and speak with lots of the participants and visitors. Having been elected several times and previously serving on all committees that were in place, I don’t really have a preference but would be willing to help where needed.

  • 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?

If the Charter revision passes, there would be a mandatory review in two years anyway. Unless there is an exceptional health or other emergency, most meetings should be conducted in person with a hybrid option for the public to participate from home. The pandemic is over, Council members, commissioners and board members should be required to attend in person if they want to vote on an item. Currently with Zoom meetings, officials don’t see the public speakers and the public has no idea when their turn to speak is coming up. I’m not in favor of four year terms or large monetary compensations for Common Council or other elected and appointed positions.

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

Norwalk doesn’t need a Civilian Police Review Board. When problems arise, the department fixes the issues. We have an excellent police force with the best community outreach around. The legislature has attempted to constrain officers statewide which has affected morale and subsequently emboldened criminals knowing they may not be chased for safety reasons in consideration of innocent bystanders. Offenders know there is little accountability and this has led to a rise in car thefts. We don’t need political aspirants trying to score points on the backs of police officers.

  • 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 don’t agree with the assumptions that every side is dug in to their position and eager to defeat the other side. The Board of Education proposes what they hope for and the City considers what the taxpayer can afford. By law, you can’t give the Board of Ed any amount less than the previous year, so that becomes an automatic starting point. I believe all parties are willing to sit down and explain their goals and objectives.

  • “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?

Norwalk already has around 13% or more of its housing designated as deed restricted affordable units. Our surrounding communities have higher real estate prices so we are comparatively more affordable than neighboring towns. We desire a good quality of life here, and the people have spoken that they don’t want to ruin our neighborhoods with high density and the effects that come with overcrowding. Some believe that if we keep building apartments the rents will eventually come down but that hasn’t happened with the last 10,000 units, and even if it did, Norwalk residents wouldn’t get any local advantage to acquire a lower priced house or apartment.

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

Is there such a thing as a zero-carbon footprint? Maybe if we threw everyone out of the City, knocked down all structures and planted a forest we could eliminate emissions. The reality is that wherever there are people and homes, they need heat, and they need to get around. Sure, there are things we could do to lower our impact on the environment. Stop overbuilding, encourage solar solutions for using and storing power, install programmable thermostats and make insulation improvements in our buildings. We can do our part, but this is a global issue and as Norwalk does what we can to protect the environment, it makes very little difference worldwide if other places don’t cooperate.


One response to “Common Council At-Large: Rich Bonenfant”


    For anyone who remembers Rich’s past service on the Common Council, you will recall how attentive he was to his constituents’ needs and how fiercely he fought for our neighborhoods (even when that meant challenging the political powers of the day).
    He was so effective because he saw Norwalk as the home of those he served and not a battleground for political party rivalries.
    Rich exemplifies true public service and is the kind of leader we all deserve on our Common Council.

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