NORWALK, Conn. – Predictions of a close Mayoral election have fallen short: Mayor Harry Rilling won victory with 55.48 percent of the vote.
The final results are 8,782 votes for Rilling and 7,047 votes for Republican-endorsed-but-unaffiliated challenger Lisa Brinton, Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said Tuesday.
Brinton and Republican supporter Isabelle Hargrove paint this as worth the struggle; Rilling and Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed Camacho stress their continued success.
‘I united Norwalk’s NURDs’
Rilling won reelection in 2017 with 55.42% percent of the vote, so his percentage was actually higher this year in spite of Brinton’s three years of non-stop campaigning.
She ran as a petitioning candidate in 2017, as part of a four-way Mayoral contest and scored 22.8 percent of the vote, more than Republican candidate Andy Conroy, who got 15.3 percent. Democratic candidate Bruce Morris won 6.3 percent of the vote.
NancyOnNorwalk asked Brinton if it was worth it, given that that Rilling won with basically the same percentage as he did in 2017. Her own numbers had gone up from 22.8 to 44.5, she said.
“I united Norwalk’s NURDs,” she wrote. “… Until I see a breakdown of Norwalk’s Unaffiliated, Republican and Democrat voters, it’s hard to say more.”
“Voter turnout in local elections reflects long time residents and homeowners who pay property taxes. Other folks are more bedroom community oriented, transient, not engaged in the schools or on a local level and hence don’t pay as much attention to local issues.
“The last known data I have indicated 47.8% of housing stock was single family homeowners out of a total of 35,168 units. This is from CERC Connecticut Economic Resource Center (2012-16.) I have it posted on my campaign website under related material.
“That housing number has likely gone down given the thousands of new apartments. Younger people tend not to vote in local elections. Someone had a median age voter for Norwalk and it was up there. I know I never voted locally until I moved to Norwalk – when I had a vested interest in my family home, the schools and local government.
“Was it worth it. Absolutely. And, I’m not going away. As it stand, the only vocal check and balance on this single party rule government is myself and now Tom Keegan. He’ll need help.”
Keegan is the sole Republican to win election to the Common Council. No Republican Board of Education candidates won.
Republicans had hoped that Brinton’s energy and passion would bring more people to the polls and get them more Council seats.
There were 15,829 votes cast in the Mayoral contest, compared to 14,314 two years ago.
‘Pretty awesome work’
“The numbers budged significantly,” Hargrove wrote. “Two years ago, Lisa garnered 22.80% of the votes, this year she close to doubled that percentage with 44.52% of votes and she more than doubled her number of voters.”
“Rilling and Morris 2 years ago, garnered 61.82%. This year Rilling, on his own, lost 10% of these votes. On the other hand, 2 years ago Conroy and Brinton only got 38.18%. Brinton this year alone, increased their combined % by 17% to get to 44.52%.
“Two years ago, our Republican candidate on Row B, got 15.38% of the votes. This year Brinton on the same line got a 200% increase and over 3 times the numbers of voters.
“What story do these numbers tell? The dems are weakening under Rilling’s leadership where Brinton is building a growing and stronger coalition that more voters are joining despite the local backlash against Republicans. Hard work and a solid platform do make a difference. She only needed to persuade less than 900 people or 5% of the voters to clinch a win. Looking at this from where we were 2 years ago, that’s pretty awesome work.
“My hats off to her.”
‘A very good showing’
“Ms. Hargrove leaves out the most telling statistic. Rilling has won by approximately 10 percentage points in virtually every election. Lisa’s change campaign did not change that,” Camacho replied.
“The elections over,” Rilling wrote. “We had a very good showing and it’s very clear to me that the public has spoken. They believe that the city is not on a downward spiral, that the city is a progressive city with leadership and vision, and they want us to continue moving in the direction that we are moving.”