Garfunkel feels more focused, in command for his second run for mayor

Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidate Andy Garfunkel explains his platform at Sunday's Norwalk Democratic Town Committee mayoral meet.
Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidate Andy Garfunkel explains his platform at Sunday’s Norwalk Democratic Town Committee mayoral meet.

NORWALK, Conn. – When someone decides to run for public office, the world does not stop. While an incumbent has the luxury of constantly being in the public eye, challengers often find themselves having to work their campaign hours around making a living.

So it was that former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the second time in a row, slipped somewhat beneath the radar for the past month. While most people have one life to live, Garfunkel has three.

A member of the showbiz backstage union, he picked up four weeks working as an electrician on the soap, “One Life to Live,” meaning he had to juggle that commitment with the real estate job and his campaign.

“It’s just how my career has landed with work,” Garfunkel said Sunday during a Democratic Party mayoral meet-and-greet at the South Norwalk Community Center. “I sold another house. I also went back to work in the TV/film industry and I got a job with a program, a show, and during filming it can be difficult. There’s long, 14-hour days sometimes. You can’t have a cell phone on you because you can’t be disturbed. We’re somewhat sequestered in the studio.”

Sunday, though, Garfunkel was back in front of the microphone, making his case to the 60 or so people in the hall as to why he should be given a second chance after falling about 850 votes shy in 2011. Later, he spoke of being a smarter candidate this time around, having been through the process.

“I think it’s more of a confidence. I’ve run a campaign for mayor. I listened to a lot of different people the last time around, and I took advice from a lot of different people,” he said, measuring his words. “This time around I’ll be a little bit more aggressive on my terms as far as what I would like to accomplish and taking the helm, taking the leadership of what my campaign will be, what the focus will be.”

“I know what it takes, I know what I need,” he said, including finding the “right” people to work with.

Garfunkel opened his public remarks by going on the attack against incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia.

“There’s mismanagement in City Hall. We all know that,” he said, vowing to start a charter revision as soon as he takes office. “I want to change the way Norwalk does business,” he said, saying that he would want to combine some services, boards and committees to save the city money.

Garfunkel took a shot at the length of time it has taken for the city to get its automated beach sticker reader up and running – “It’s been three or four years” – and said the infrastructure under the streets is 80 to 100 years old in some cases and is crumbling.

“It’s an election year. They’re afraid someone will complain” if the city digs up the streets to do the work.”

Garfunkel said he wants to reach out to communities and help get them grants to reinvigorate their businesses and give them curb appeal. He also vowed to make sure the police department had the personnel and equipment it needs to keep Norwalk safe.

Garfunkel denied the brewing scandal involving missing money in the town clerk’s office will have an impact on his campaign, even though sources have said the problem was going on while he ran the office.

“I’m not involved in any part of the investigation,” he said Sunday, adding that he has not been interviewed by police. “I don’t really have any answers as to what’s going on or even what is being investigated. I don’t have any facts at all.”

What he does have is the desire to once more face off with Moccia.

“Right now I am looking for a nomination from this party,” he said. “The membership is made up of 35 elected members from the city. Those 35 members in July will be nominating a candidate. Right now my focus is talking to those 35 members, at the same time raising money and being outside in the community. I believe I am more established than I was a year and a half ago.”

And if he does not get the official endorsement of his party?

“I will go to the primary.”

(This week: Conversations with Democratic Party candidates Harry Rilling Andy Garfunkel, Vinny Mangiacopra and Matt Miklave. After the primary, we will extend an invitation to Mayor Richard Moccia and his opponent or opponents for interviews.)


5 responses to “Garfunkel feels more focused, in command for his second run for mayor”

  1. Clayton

    That blue is terrible with that suit.

  2. Peter I Berman

    In any other CT community a candidate who within a whisper of defeating a 4 term incumbent would be selected as the Party’s favorite in the next election without much fuss. Especially given punitive property taxes, declining property values and a plethora of “for sale” signs. It’s hard to find any other example in CT of such a 4 way challenge having a positive outcome. Unless the goal is positioning for the subsequent election. Given limited funding available the ultimate challenger may be at a real disadvantage this fall.

  3. Frankie_Boy

    Berman can’t seem to ever get facts straight. Andy didn’t come “within a whisper” of beating Moccia. Moccia was running for his 4th term at that election (so he was a “3 term incumbent”). Property taxes in Norwalk are not “punitive” (if you look at the mill rate are in the middle of the pack for this area). Property values have been increasing (not decreasing) over the past 2 years. As for the claim about “limited funding” hurting the “ultimate challenger”, both Rilling and Vinny have raised more money than Moccia has.

  4. Tim T

    Andy lost by about 800 votes…Considering he had one quarter the funds last time around that is a whisper of defeating Moccia. Also property values have been dropping in Norwalk in the last 2 years while the rest of Fairfield county has seen them rise
    This is due to the out of control crime and the horrid school system,…Thanks to Mayor Moccia

  5. Frankie_Boy

    Tim T- thanks for engaging the other posters on this blog. I don’t dispute that Moccia’s victory was slim. I see a “whisper” being a 1% win- that kind of election that has a recount. Moccia won by about 4%. Not much, and we can argue over a beer if it was a “whisper”. But I agree that this is Moccia’s last term.
    Crime is definitely a problem. Andy dropped the ball on that issue last election when he let Moccia cite the FBI crime stats (that were a year delayed). Moccia assured us that Norwalk is safe. Moccia was wrong.
    Property values are on the increase (look at the Zillow market index @ http://www.zillow.com/local-info/CT-Norwalk-home-value/r_26222/). But with increased property values, our taxes are still going up over 3%.
    I don’t know about everyone in Norwalk, but if my taxes are going up, I want to know that the departments are stretching that money as far as possible. Any mayor who approves a big raise for his staff and himself won’t be someone I can trust to stretch my tax dollars.

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