Former Norwalk NAACP head ‘100% committed to Republican Party’

Attorney Darnell Crosland, former Norwalk Branch NAACP President, speaks to Norwalk Republicans last week in the Norwalk Inn.
The election is Nov. 5.

NORWALK, Conn. — Darnell Crosland, a lifelong Democrat, told Republicans last week that if they’d endorse him as their Mayoral candidate, he’d march right to City Hall and change his party affiliation.

On Tuesday, Crosland walked into City Hall and became a Republican. He’s filing his campaign papers by Friday and then will begin raising money, he told NancyOnNorwalk late Tuesday.

The attorney and former head of the Norwalk NAACP said that the Republican convention is in July and endorsements won’t be made until then.  “But I was ready to switch regardless,” he said.

His campaign slogan will be “A New Day.”

“I think a new day has come,” he said. “I think a lot of the old ideas are just that old ideas and we need new people with new ideas to bring about a new day.”

Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda did not reply to a late Tuesday email from NancyOnNorwalk.

Crosland is looking to unseat three-term Democratic Mayor Harry Rilling, as is unaffiliated candidate Lisa Brinton. Both are seeking the Republican endorsement.


“Single party rule is dangerous in this town,” Brinton told Republicans last week. “There are 22,000 unaffiliates, 21,000 Democrats and 9-10,000 Republicans. In order for us to win, I believe there needs to be a coalition.”

“Norwalk is a city on the move and I’m proud of what my team has accomplished during my three terms,” Rilling said last week. “I look forward to a civil and robust campaign season focused on the issues important to our community.”

The grand list is growing, there’s “new businesses and economic development and schools that are getting better every day,” Rilling for Mayor Spokesman Adam Wood said Tuesday. “Mayor Rilling remains focused on keeping Norwalk moving forward.”

Crosland ran for Judge of Probate last summer, lost the Democratic Town Committee endorsement to Doug Stern, challenged Stern in a primary, and lost. Stern went on to win the election.

Crosland in August, on the night of the primary, suggested that Democrats chose Stern because he’s white.

“There’s no doubt (State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff {D-25} is) a powerful individual in our community,” Crosland said. “He knew that I had a great stronghold on this race, four years ago against an incumbent and I was halfway up the hill. Instead of the DTC and anybody coming up behind me and helping push me over, make me better, they went down to the bottom of the hill and just picked another individual without any articulation as to why that individual deserved their support. {Stern} is white, I am black. That is all I can come up with, but in terms of my legal skills, my experiences, my community service contributions, the Boards that I have been on, there is nothing why they would go down to the bottom of the hill and pull this gentleman up, not just push me over the top. That’s very disappointing, we are hoping to change it.”

“I think the Republican Party is in need of a fresh start, I think they are open for new leadership, and new ideas can grow within that environment. I don’t think the same applies for the Democratic party,” Crosland said Tuesday.

He said he’s seeing “overwhelmingly” positive feedback from Norwalk Republicans.  At the same time, “there’s a segment of the Republican party that’s still going through sticker shock, can’t believe I switched over, kind of questioning why I am there. Then there’s an element that’s just getting to grips on my coming over.”

There’s also “sticker shock” on whether Norwalk can have its first black mayor, he said.

“The status quo people are comfortable with the way it used to be but I think there’s a progressive movement among the Republican Party as well in the Democrat Party, that does believe that true democracy is a diverse democracy. We can’t continue to talk about diversity and not accept the fact that a black person can be Mayor,” Crosland said. “I hope we can get past that.”



19 responses to “Former Norwalk NAACP head ‘100% committed to Republican Party’”

  1. Mark Daniele

    I could care less if you have three heads as long as you believe in our continued path of being a Republic you can have my vote.

  2. Mitch Adis

    The Norwalk Republicans are like the Mets – They hate winning. The moment they have a chance, they do something stupid to assure a loss in the big games. I have a tip for the republicans in town – whatever you think you should do, do the opposite!

  3. Mitch Adis

    Last thing we need is the guy who defended Tanya McDowell running this city. Look it up.

  4. Mitch Adis

    “All I can come up with is Stern is white and I’m black “. Realy, that’s all you can come up with? Wow. Run for the hills everyone. We have a genius on our hands.

  5. David McCarthy

    So, he is ticked off that he got railroaded out of being probate judge, and that makes him become an R…who if he won, would be ten times as liberal as Harry is…any RTC member who falls for this one needs to be shown the door

  6. NR

    Crosland’s impact for the future of Norwalk will be measured on the Richter scale! Does not matter what happened in the probate race because what matters now is how resilient he can be. Times are changing economically and socially, therefore in order for the city to be successful with the new positive impacts (Schools, economic development, and new businesses), Norwalk needs to be prepared to successfully develop with the new inflow. #Crosland

  7. Piberman

    So far Attorney Crossland hasn’t given us a “playbook” on how he’d lower taxes and encourage corporate development with good jobs to come to Norwalk. Nor has the local GOP sent out the huzzahs. What Norwalk needs is not Mayoral candidates, but candidates with the plans and abilities to transform Norwalk into a viable real City with good jobs other than those available at City Hall. Candidates who would end our long standing reputation as the “hole in the middle of the donut”.

  8. Kurt Reply

    I met Attorney Crosland once in passing – seemed like a genuine guy so this is pretty surprising to see him jump sides. Sir- I hope you are doing this for the right reasons not just to get payback

  9. Bill Nightingale

    Does the Republican Party support abolishing the Redevelopment Agency? It sure seems that pretty much every other citizen of Norwalk wants to.

  10. Lisa Brinton

    Bill, I support abolishing the Redevelopment Agency. The land grabs, blight, lawsuits and tax credits over the course of twenty plus years have cost taxpayers millions upon millions and stifled economic growth.

    The RDA landed us with the Poko disaster, a mall, that won’t pay its fair share of property taxes for a decade. And, when it’s time to pay up, likely won’t be a mall anymore. Finally, the Washington Village replacement has cost $600k per unit -when the median price of a family home in Norwalk is ~$412k.

    Neither party is standing up for ordinance enforcement or addressing the hundreds of illegal apartments that represent fire/safety hazards and add students to our already overcrowded school system, minus the corresponding tax revenues.

    If the city needs to raid the Rainy Day fund to pay for annual school operating expenses – the grand list isn’t keeping up. Just wait until the millions in state pensions get pushed down to the municipalities. This is unsustainable. Doesn’t anybody understand math?

  11. Piberman

    Surprising Nancy’s hasn’t commented that this is May 1 – International Workers Day.
    CT with its 75,000 State and local public Unions is a major opportunity for celebration.

  12. Bill Nightingale

    Good to hear, Lisa. Thank you.

  13. Piberman

    According to Data US Norwalk is 52% white, 27% Latino and 14% black. And 16% are not US citizens.
    Making Norwalk a de facto “Sanctuary City”. We ought be asking when will we have a Latino Mayor when Latinos will become the dominant ethnic group in Norwalk. Especially when reportedly there are now several hundred Latino owned businesses in Norwalk and the majority of our school kids reportedly are Spanish speaking.

    Since Latinos are increasingly becoming part of Norwalk’s “homeowner class” – 60% of our residents are homeowners – its quite possible Latinos will become Republicans in the future. Assuming that Republicans awake from their long slumber.

    Norwalk might well become CT’s first middle class Latino City. Provided punitive property taxes do not further erode property values and discourage home ownership.

    Why neither Party has effectively reached out to Latinos is surprising. Demographers view Nowealk as a future Latino dominant City. And with a growing Latino business class Norwalk might rediscover its own once formidable reputation as CT’s best City.

    Asi es la vida !

  14. Ron Morris

    This is not about a candidate’s color or race. This is about the best candidate.
    Also you state “So far Attorney Crossland hasn’t given us a “playbook” on how he’d lower taxes ” You do realize that he just changed parties last night and has not officially registered yet that he is even running for Mayor. I think he said he was doing that on Friday. So please hold up with your constant negativity until then.

  15. Rusty Guardrail

    In a failed attempt to win acquittal for his client (a proven dope dealer and pimp who claimed to be homeless although she actually lived in a Bridgeport apartment) Mr. Crosland falsely defamed Norwalk in the national media. Despite his malicious slander of our city, his client got 5 years in jail. His candidacy will probably assure another 2 years of Rilling.

  16. Al Bore

    @Ron Morris If Mr. Crossland does decide to run on the republican ticket after being a life long democrat will that bother you, I thought you bothered and did not trust Lisa for doing the same? Just asking.

  17. Tysen Canevari

    What a complete joke Norwwalk politics has become. If you think you dont have a chance then just change parties. Mayor Harry did it and now Mr Crossland. The republican party in Norwalk is very similar to the NY Knicks. Despite having lottery draft picks they still manage to screw up the draft!! Mr Crossland publicly riduculed Norwalk on national tv to defend a convicted felon going to Norwalk schools illegally. I think Harry may make the biggest donation to Mr. Crossland’s campaign. Thanks for letting me win by landslide this November!!

  18. Rusty Guardrail

    The Republicans don’t have to nominate him. If given the party’s backing, Lisa might prevail this time

  19. Scott Vetare

    We can only hope Rusty!!

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