NORWALK, Conn. — A jubilant Harry Rilling stepped to the lecturn at about 8:35 Tuesday night at the Hilton Garden Inn to greet his friends, backers and the media after state Sen. Bob Duff told the crowd there was “good news.” That news was that Rilling, a 41-year Norwalk police officer and 17-year chief, had just won the right to try to unseat four-term incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia in the November election. According to the official tally from Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells, Rilling took 1,703 of the 3,325 votes cast by Norwalk Democrats. It was a low turnout, but not totally unexpected — Mayor Richard Moccia told NancyOnNorwalk Friday he expected about 3,000 to 3,500 would vote. The figure represented 20.88 percent of Norwalk’s 15,985 registered Democratic voters.
Rilling’s total was more than twice that of his nearest competitor. District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra got 781 votes, while Common Councilman Matt Miklave (D-District A) got 501 and former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel polled 340. Gov. Dannel Malloy preceded Rilling at the microphone and congratulated Rilling, exhorting the crowd to work hard to put Norwalk under Democratic guidance. Then Rilling spoke. “We did it right. We stayed on message. And we kept positive through the whole thing,” Rilling said, reinforcing his message of bringing civility back to local government. “And I can tell you, we will continue to do it right, stay on message and keep it positive.” “This is not going to be an easy fight,” he said. “We’re going to have a struggle, but we are going to forge ahead. We are going to continue staying on message, keeping a positive campaign, because the people will hear us. The people will respond. The people will say it’s now time for change and the Democratic Party is back.” Mangiacopra, accompanied by Democratic Common Councilmen Warren Peña and David Watts, stopped by about 9:30 p.m. to congratulate Rilling. Rilling thanked his campaign workers and said that, after all his years in public service, he had learned a few things in his campaign. “The things I have learned have been amazing. I have met so many wonderful people. It is now time to band together again, double, triple in size. Let’s move on to November and let’s win there!”
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