Dem state rep candidates Garfunkel, Peña qualify for state campaign funds

Updated 11:13 p.m. Thursday, April 10, with Bruce Morris comment.

NORWALK, Conn. – A pair of announced Norwalk Democratic candidates for state representative have raised enough money to qualify for state funding, according to their April 10 financial reports.

Former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel, who is running for the seat being vacated by Larry Cafero (R-142) and former Common Council member Warren Peña, who is challenging fellow Dem Bruce Morris in the 140th district, announced Thursday that they had cleared the threshold of raising $5,000 from 150 Norwalk contributors.

Garfunkel has no current opposition for the Democratic Party nomination.

“We are pleased to have reached our fund-raising goal so quickly. We’ve seen overwhelming local support for Andy,” Garfunkel 2014 Treasurer Christopher Potts said.

Garfunkel, who was elected Norwalk Town Clerk for five consecutive terms before making a bid for higher office, has expressed his desire to work on the issues that are of utmost importance in revitalizing Norwalk, New Canaan and all of Connecticut to ensure that we fully benefit from the slowly recovering economy.

“I am very much looking forward to talking about a more comprehensive approach with voters,” he said, “and am excited to be moving on to that phase of the campaign.”

Garfunkel attended the University of Bridgeport, majoring in Theatrical Design. He owned and operated his own home remodeling business in Fairfield and Westchester counties for over 15 years before serving as Norwalk’s Town Clerk from 2001-2011. He is currently a licensed real estate agent with William Raveis in Norwalk and a free-lancing technician with both the Studio Mechanics and Stage Employees Unions in the tri-state area. Garfunkel ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2011 against Republican incumbent Richard Moccia and was fourth in a four-way primary for the Democratic mayoral nomination last fall.

Peña’s challenge to a fellow Democrat could set the stage for an August primary.

“It’s exciting,” Peña said in a press release. “For being officially in the race for such a short time, I am extremely humbled by the overwhelming support and positive feedback we have received. This sends a clear message that the people feel South Norwalk and Central Norwalk deserve better representation in Hartford and that it is time to move forward. The same politics that have presided over places like South Norwalk for decades have caused too much damage to our neighborhoods, our schools and our kids.”

Peña announced that his campaign has raised over $5,000 from 162 total donors last quarter, 150 of which are from Norwalk, to qualify for a state grant of $27,850.

Morris, who has spent much of his time in Hartford for thepast several weeks as the legislature has been in session, said Thursday night that he expects to reach the $5,000 plateau soon.

“Elections are about choices,” he said in an email to NancyOnNorwalk. “I am very proud of my legislative record. In terms of qualifying for state funding, I am focused on fulfilling my legislative responsibilities on behalf the 140th District electors during the current session, which ends on May 5. However, as of the recent submitted filing, I am honored that $4,200 was contributed by 195 people, of whom 135 live in Norwalk. Given this accomplishment, achieved since March 20, I anticipate reaching the required fundraising goals.”

This is Peña’s first time running for state office. He served as an at-large councilman from 2011-2013 and is currently chairman of the South Norwalk Community Center.

“Our campaign is very encouraged at the response from family, friends, community and Democratic party leaders,” Peña said. “The political landscape is at an unprecedented time here in Norwalk. A movement started when I became involved in Norwalk politics a few years ago; I look forward to continuing that movement and working hard in order to represent the district I was born and raised in.”


14 responses to “Dem state rep candidates Garfunkel, Peña qualify for state campaign funds”

  1. anonymous

    So Norwalk desperately needs a change in leadership. Good luck Pena.

  2. WOW!

    Whereas Bruce Morris only looks after the interest of a portion of the electorate, Warren Peña is truly interested in working in Hartford to provide his constituents with the biggest bang for their buck. He has been successful in leading the South Norwalk Community Center into a shining example of the power of collaborative efforts while Morris has been fighting to save a dysfunctional NEON. Peña is for progress while Morris is for protecting the embedded, failed leadership of NEON, past and present. Good luck to Warren.

  3. bsmith

    This is the Republican’s seat to lose and they chose to primary instead of getting behind one candidate?

    1. Mark Chapman

      They have not chosen to primary yet. There will be a caucus in the district this summer that will try to sort it out, Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Torrano said a few weeks back.

  4. John Hamlin

    Bruce Morris is opposed to civil rights for gay people — he voted against civil unions (not marriage, civil unions!) and his opposition to basic gay rights and his support of the corrupt NEON leadership are both legend. Certainly we can do better.

  5. DistrictBDem

    This comment has been deleted because it contained potentially libelous statements and allegations.

  6. anonymous

    @Chapman have any idea if this statement from DistrictBDem is true or DistrictBDem, have any proof?

    ‘Funnels state funds soley into his church benefiting the few (ethics violation).’

  7. TLaw

    Being that they are both representing the same party – Democratic – I look for to how Mr. Pena will be different “…….This sends a clear message that the people feel South Norwalk and Central Norwalk deserve better representation in Hartford and that it is time to move forward. The same politics that have presided over places like South Norwalk for decades have caused too much damage to our neighborhoods, our schools and our kids.”

    How so?

  8. Don’t Panic

    The caucus will not short out whether there is a primary or not. It will (likely) endorse one or the other. The unendorsed candidate can petition their way onto the ballot with enough support, triggering a primary.
    If one candidate is clearly not viable, they can be asked to stand down by the party, but they cannot be prevented from running if they can show support by petitioning.


    I’m begging each and every Norwalk resident NOT to vote for Garfunkel. He’s not qualified (we clearly see that in this write up) and disappointed the Norwalk residents once already.

    To be elected to a position as Town Clerk and not have control of his department is uncalled for. With money being stolen (allegedly – innocent until proven guilty ((yah right)) ) and his absence during his time at the helm can only scream one thing “NOT CAPABLE FOR A HIGHER OFFICE”

    This coming from a very dedicated democrat.

  10. Oyster

    It would appear that plenty of people feel he would represent them well in Hartford, just as thousands here on Norwalk appreciated his service as Town Clerk.
    It is the modernization of the office that he initiated that permitted the actions of one dishonest employee to come to light.
    Qualifications are a different matter than character and judgment. Garfunkel’s credentials as a local businessman, years of public service and years of community service do not get erased by the actions of a dishonest employee any more than you would arrest the parents of a teenager who has stolen a car.

  11. Simmie

    I whole-heartedly disagree with you!
    To hold Andy personally responsible for the thievery of that dishonest clerk is ridiculous!  
    If he knew but covered it up, I’d be in total agreement with you. But that’s not what happened at all! From what I’ve read, that former clerk setup an elaborate scheme to hide her embezzling (forged and bogus receipts, phantom customers, etc.) from everyone in the town clerks office, including Andy! On paper everything looked “legitimate”. 
    As with most crooks, she went to great lengths to hide her embezzling.
    Unless she had a history/reputation of being dishonest, there would be NO reason to doubt her integrity. As with my coworkers, I trust them! So to hold Andy personally responsible for her illegal activities, because “he should have known” is both unfair and unrealistic! 
    The ONLY one I hold responsible is the thief herself! Shame on her for betraying her position…Betraying her coworkers and her friends who trusted her.. Betraying the public! And shame on her for throwing Andy under the bus to minimize her guilt! Truly disgusting!
    Over the years I’ve had to go to the clerks office, and Andy has always been readily available to assist me. And if he couldn’t,  he’d make every effort to find the right person who could. 
    Given the attitudes of other city hall employees (you know the ones who couldn’t be bothered & treat you as such), I’ve always found his willingness to help to be refreshing. 
    He has such a genuineness about him! Perhaps it’s his genuine desire to help others?…. Or his desire to better Norwalk?       
    Either way, we need a fresh face with fresh ideas! We need a hometown, homegrown Norwalker. Someone who understands our city and our needs!  
    I feel Andy is just this person. He has my confidence, and my vote.

    Thank you.

  12. Oldtimer

    Two good men competing for the same job. Garfunkel is probably better known, with years of history in public service, which should translate into more votes, if he campaigns hard enough. Whoever becomes the Democratic candidate will be up against a Republican candidate with a lot of money.


    Yah, Simmie.. Beautiful song, however… I shut off the radio 2 sentences into it. Anyways, the only thing Andrew Garfunkel has to offer based on his education would be the ability to decorate the State House. Perhaps some new backdrops on the walls and maybe everyone can dress up in Civil War garb. WE NEED to get our heads out of the sand, think outside the unqualified contenders and look elsewhere. Or else, we will end up like Bridgeport. PERIOD. His debates were painful to listen to while he was fighting against Rilling et all for the mayoral seat. He’d be an embarrassment on this level. It’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

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