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.
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.”
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.