Dem questionnaire responses shed new light on mayor candidates

Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidates Rilling and Miklave
Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, left, and Common Councilman Matt Miklave, right, are competing to become the Norwalk Democratic Party candidate for mayor this fall.

NORWALK, Conn. – Harry Rilling calls out Mayor Richard Moccia’s administration for its “lackadaisical management style,” incivility and lack of vision. Matt Miklave advocates getting police out of their cars and walking their beats, and touts the importance of government’s role in creating safe, secure and prosperous lives for its citizens.

You asked, and NancyOnNorwalk responded. When the Democratic Town Committee asked Norwalk’s Democratic mayoral candidates to respond to a questionnaire, several readers expressed a desire to see their answers. Monday afternoon we asked all the candidates to send us their responses. Miklave beat us to the punch – his campaign sent his questionnaire before we sent our request. Rilling’s campaign responded almost immediately. We expect Vinny Mangiacopra to respond shortly. Andy Garfunkel had not filled out the questionnaire at last check.

Here are a few of the highlights from each of the candidates. The complete questionnaires are attached at the end of the article.

Harry Rilling

The former Norwalk police chief has done interviews and has spoken at events, but his in-person appearances we have seen have been tamer than his responses to the DTC. While some people have taken Rilling to task for congratulating Moccia – his direct boss – in 2011 on gaining the GOP nomination for another term and calling him a good boss, the questionnaire sheds some new light on what Rilling really thinks:

 “Members of the Common Council and the mayor often have differing agendas that need not preclude respect for each other as they need to work to resolve their differences.”

“Contrary to current practice, it is not necessary for the mayor to be the city’s representative at every minor event. He should often invite members of the Council from his own party to fill that role and expand their exposure.”

• “At the present time, there is not an effective CEO running the City of Norwalk. There is no sense of a common mission, no focused sense of direction, and certainly no accountability. Department and staff meetings are rarely if ever held, and when they are held they are of little substance.”

“There are many “best practices” that could benefit Norwalk, but we have been unable to implement many of them due to lack of funding. The current administration and grants coordinator have not been as effective as they could be in winning the grants necessary to implement many of these programs. Better leadership and insight on solving public safety issues is needed immediately.”

“… But Norwalk’s excessive tax burden is also caused by the lackadaisical management style of the current administration. … Our departments lack innovation and management efficiencies. The current mayor’s approval of a salary increase of over 20 percent for his office is a symbol of the waste that causes higher taxes.”

“Norwalk is at a proverbial fork in the road. One path leads to the status quo in our educational system, lack of positive development, and incivility. The other path requires experienced, effective leadership.”

Rilling declined to sign a “consent form” agreeing to uphold the platform of the state Democratic Party, as did Miklave.

“Mr. Rilling signed and filed papers with the Town Clerk in February to run for Mayor of Norwalk as a Democrat, and that is the campaign’s only plan,” said Rilling’s campaign publicist Dave Murchie on Monday night in an email statement. “He is looking forward to participating in the endorsement convention in July, and a primary in September should that be necessary.”

Matt Miklave

Miklave declined to sign the document he called a pledge guaranteeing he would “remain true to the principles of the Democratic Party,” saying that he would be taking a pledge to serve all the people of Norwalk, and that no one party “has a monopoly on wisdom or truth” and that ideas change over time. “I subscribe to no orthodoxy – whether a party one or not. I will simply do the best I can, every day, for as long as I can, to help lead this city forward.”

Miklave said he chose to run for mayor after watching politicians from both parties for the past 22 promising change and settling for the status quo, paying lip service to education while failing to provide the necessary funding.

When it comes to education, the candidate said, “Norwalk should work with educators, the non-profit community, and business leaders to develop a focused labor policy – helping those students embrace the education, business and career opportunities that await them.” He also called on the city to “provide for parents so that they can support the mission of these programs at home” to help break the cycle of poverty.

Addressing his much-talked-about stance on unions, he said, “At the end of the day, contract negotiation is a process to find common ground and build meaningful relationships that benefit the employer, the employee and the union. I believe that my being nationally recognized as one of the leaders in my field proves that I handle this process well. As mayor, I will take an active role in every contract negotiation. I will make sure every employee is treated with dignity and respect during that process. I will insist that every city official understand that negotiations cannot be “us” versus “them,” and that once a deal is reached (and whatever that deal might be), we are all going to work together to lead the city forward.”

Click the links below to see the complete responses.

Matt Miklave responses

Harry Rilling responses


13 responses to “Dem questionnaire responses shed new light on mayor candidates”

  1. Bravo Nancy (and Mark) on Norwalk.

    This is a must read for all the citizens of Norwalk.

    When will we get something similar from the Republicans? It will be interesting to read why Mr. Moccia wants to continue to be Mayor of Norwalk.

  2. LWitherspoon

    I agree wholeheartedly with Rod. Well done, Nancy and Mark! I look forward to reading the responses of Mr. Garfunkel and Mangiacopra. While we still need to know more details about how each of the candidates would achieve their visions for Norwalk, this is a great first step beyond the empty slogans that have characterized the campaign to date. Mayor Moccia should answer all the same questions so that we may know where he stands on these important issues.
    This is a lot to digest, but the biggest difference I see between Rilling and Miklave is on taxes.
    Rilling says clearly and concisely:
    “Norwalk taxes are excessive for the services received
    in exchange.”
    On the other hand, after a lot of equivocating, Miklave says:
    “I believe the public will support the level of taxes necessary to tackle the challenges we face.”
    Obviously from these answers, Miklave is a lot more willing to raise taxes than Rilling is.

  3. M. Murray

    Did these responses come from the DTC or from the candidates? Can we see the exact oath to the Democratic Party that was supposed to be signed?

    1. Mark Chapman

      The DTC declined to provide the responses. The copies of the questionnaires were provided by the candidates. I am not sure if we can get our hands on the “oath” or “pledge,” but we will try. I can tell you that neither Harry Rilling nor Matt Miklave signed it. We found out a short time ago that Andy Garfunkel declined to sign or to fill out the questionnaire. We are attempting to get his answers to the questions. Vinny Mangiacopra has not yet responded. We will run their responses — or lack thereof — Thursday or Friday morning. We are also developing a similar set of questions for Mayor Moccia, with obvious differences to account for his being the incumbent and a Republican.

  4. Tim T

    OH please
    What you fail to realize is these are just empty words from Rilling much like when he was chief. What we will see from the Rilling old boys club if he were elected mayor is one excuse after the next as to why taxes went up . Maybe you forget he is the king of excuses which was proven with one excuse after the next why his NPD failed and failed miserably to solve or prevent crime. Which I will add we are still seeing the results of the failure.
    at lease Matt is being upfront with his answers.

  5. NorwalkVoter

    And where are the other two responses??? Are Mark and Nancy on top of this? How are they answering your request? Have they refused or are they stalling?

    1. Mark Chapman

      We are on top of it. We are currently awaiting response to a second attempt to get the info from both Mr. Mangiacopra and Mr. Garfunkel. We have also sent a similar but, for obvious reasons, adjusted questionnaire to the mayor. By the end of the week, we will do a story or stories letting our readers know their responses, or lack thereof.

  6. rburnett

    Tim T: Don’t you ever shut up? You always have such negative opinions about everything but never have any solutions; just complaints. Why don’t you provide us with some insight as to your ideas for making Norwalk a better place.

    At least the four dems are willing to place themselves in the public spotlight and to offer service to the citizens of Norwalk even while withstanding your steady flow of criticism.

  7. Tim T

    I posted this on anther article but it seems that you didn’t see this or understand this. … I will edit this to fit this reply.
    Last I check this article was not about me but about
    “Dem questionnaire responses shed new light on mayor candidates”
    I find your comment “Don’t you ever shut up?” to be both childish and that of someone that is defeated in their views. If my views bother you so much and you feel they are so useless why do you read and reply to each on my posts?? It seems I have hit a nerve with you know what they say the truth hurts.

    You seem to have issues that I don’t have the same opinion as yours. Also you seem to think the way to show support for your candidate is to lamely attempt attack others who have a different view than you have as you have shown in this article and as you did in this one.
    I find it comical that you would say that I am all over the board as that is one thing I have never been accused of.
    Let me help you with some insight to my views and who I support.
    Moccia is Rilling
    Rilling is Moccia
    and they are failures as far as I am concerned

    Vinny is a child with ZERO experience and as far as I am concerned a used car salesmen

    Andy truly cares about Norwalk and did a fanatic job modernizing the town clerk’s office
    Mike is a proven leader with real ideas and a true education.
    So I clearly support Andy or Mike
    Now do you understand?????????
    (This comment has been edited to conform t our comment guidelines)

  8. Asa H.M.

    Mike?? Do you mean Matt Miklave?

  9. Tim T

    Asa H.M.
    Yes I meant Matt Miklave..Android speech recognition at its finest..Thanks for the correction.

  10. Peter I Berman

    Taxpayers expecting relief will be disappointed by these candidates comments. Mr. Milkave approved every labor agreement over the past decade while on Council. Clearly he favors the interest of municipal employees over property owners facing declining values brought about by excessive salaries. So far no Democrat candidate has come forth with a plan to moderate or decrease property taxes (employee salaries). Looks like we remain in “Alice in Wonderland” here in Norwalk forever.

  11. Suzanne

    I think rather than using this questionnaire, it might be useful for everyone to check out the more detailed forums on the candidates’ respective WEB sites. It helped me in what I did not read and what I did read. It helped me to differentiate better between all of the candidates. I asked myself, “What is real information? What is a plan? What is hyperbole?” Slogans are often used as are “pat” answers while addressing issues in a concrete way seldom seen. It also clarifies what these candidates find truly important – I would be curious what you think, especially, Mr. Berman. I, for one, do not want to “remain in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ here in Norwalk forever”!

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments