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Common Council, District D: Heather Dunn

Heather Dunn. (Contributed)

Heather Dunn, Independent/Republican

  • 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.

I am a special education teacher at Norwalk High School. In that capacity I have learned how to collect and interpret different data which is instrumental in the decision-making processes. Just because a service sounds good, without a focus on actual data and return on investment, it is just a waste of time and money. I think that there too many decisions that are made in our city where the financial impacts and outcomes are not adequately considered. When the city has invested in studies, they should result in clear actionable items (with financial outcomes) and deadlines.

I have attended a lot of city meetings across the board, but the areas that I feel most knowledgeable about and where my skillset might be helpful are: the Community Services committee ( I am a member of the Norwalk Emergency Response team), Recreation Parks and Cultural Affairs (I am a past president of the SoNo Arts Celebration and was the project director for several public arts installations like the giant star in city hall), and Ordinance Committee (as a member of the Coalition of Community Neighborhood Assoc).

  • 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? 

Yes, and I would like to see political minority representation added as it is in over 90% of the towns in CT. We currently have two representatives from each district, and it would be nice to see more of Norwalk’s population represented by including a requirement for them to be of differing parties (while leaving the at-large positions open). One party would have a majority as a result, but there would be more differing opinions as part of discussions. I would also like to see a true planning commission again, that focuses on long-range planning and tasked with working with neighborhoods and groups on the POCD.

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

I don’t have enough information to be able to adequately weigh the pros and cons. I think that the vast majority of police officers represent the needs of our community extremely well. If there are concerns that are occurring frequently, I would consider reviewing systemic changes and advocate working with the union and HR for support.

  • 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 wouldn’t say there is a battle between the city government and the school board. I believe there are healthy checks and balances taking place. There is always conflict over the budget, as there should be, when it has such a huge impact on our taxes. I believe more questions should be asked as to what the long-term vision is for Norwalk and make sure that aligns with the wishes of the residents. I also think that teachers should have more input on the budget as well as parents. If you did a survey asking where they would individually spend a hundred dollars, you would probably get surprising answers!

  • “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?

The question is important only if you believe the government has a responsibility to house people. I would like to shift from the mindset of providing housing, to providing safe shelter. In my work as the recovery supervisor for the Red Cross I work with families and individuals that need to find housing quickly and when they have become reliant on the government it becomes much more difficult. The cities where there are stronger non-profit supports available, there are better outcomes. I would like to see the city focus on supporting organizations that provide shelter to the homeless, and programs that support the disabled and elderly. I also think that we need more diversity of housing options. There are too many rental apartments in Norwalk where landlords are the only ones building equity.

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

I think there are things that you can do to change the culture of the community like making sure there are recycling cans alongside trash bins in our city parks. I would also like to move the public transportation focus away thinking about it as commutating and find ways that residents can get from place to place within the city. I would like to see the city consider providing every Norwalk public school student with a transit pass so that they could stay after school or get to the library or work by bus if they need.

TOD areas do not mean less cars if there is not a plan for amenities like grocery stores within walking distance Real change would come from a commitment to setting a goal of a 0% increase in impermeable surfaces in Norwalk. I would also like to see a 0% reduction of tree canopy goal. You can’t cut down hundred year old trees … then pretend by planting a sapling you are reducing carbon.

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