Norwalk’s Dem party chief slams Garfunkel move

Norwalk Andy Garfunkel
Former Norwalk Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel leads a District A Democrats meeting last month. He resigned his post as District A chairman Saturday.

Updated 1:38 a.m. Monday with response from Andy Garfunkel

NORWALK, Conn. – A move by former Town Clerk and current mayoral candidate Andy Garfunkel designed, he said, to avoid the appearance of impropriety, may have backfired Sunday night.

Garfunkel, who unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia in 2011, resigned his position as Norwalk Democratic Party Chairman for District A Saturday and called on District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, who has also filed papers to run for mayor, to immediately do the same.

However, Garfunkel’s move drew an immediate rebuke from the Democratic Town Committee chief, who cast doubt on his ability to gain the party’s backing.

Committee Chairwoman Amanda Brown told Nancy On Norwalk this isn’t the type of leadership the party wants to endorse.

In his emailed announcement Sunday, Garfunkel said, “It creates an appearance of unfairness for a mayoral contender to serve on the Democratic Town Committee’s Executive Committee as a district chair until a candidate is finally selected after the primary process. One of the things I’ve learned from my years in public service is that it’s essential to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

Brown’s response was harsh.

“It is evident that he quit on the committed Democrats in District A that elected him to be their representative and leader in order to promote his desires for citywide office,” she said in an email. “Further, he called for others to abdicate their elected positions of duty and leadership. This isn’t the pattern of good leadership that our party is looking to exemplify.”

Mangiacopra said he would not be stepping down.

“While I respect Andy’s decision to leave his post as District A Chairman he by no means has the authority to ask any of the other candidates to step down from the roles in which we are serving on behalf of Norwalkers,” he said in an email.

Brown characterized Garfunkel’s concern about the 10-member executive committee as a “misperception.” Both mayoral candidates on the committee would be required to recuse themselves whenever the topics regarding the mayoral position, she said, adding, “There would be nothing else hindering any candidates’ ability to participate in the remaining business and governing of the NDTC.”

Garfunkel still has the ability to vote to endorse himself, even though he has resigned as district chairman, she said.

Garfunkel said in his press release that he is focusing on becoming the Democratic Party nominee to take down Moccia and take Norwalk in a new direction.

“Our city needs a mayor with the experience, credibility and vision to bring it to the next level,” he said in an email. “My sole focus over the next several months will be communicating with the people of Norwalk and explaining to them why I’m that man.”

It’s obvious, though, that Garfunkel has a long way to go to convince his own party that he is the man to run against Moccia, who is seeking his fifth term in office.

“Each candidate’s behavior over the coming months will be carefully observed and discussed during our endorsement deliberations by the entire DTC, all 35 members,” Brown said in her email. “If this is any indication of the Garfunkel campaign’s style of leadership then I find it difficult to believe that an endorsement from the party will be forthcoming.”

Garfunkel responded to Brown’s comments with an email late Sunday.

“While I respect the position of the party chair, no single person speaks for the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee,” he said. “Over the next several months, I will continue to make my case to the town committee members, to Norwalk Democrats, and ultimately to all the voters of Norwalk, regardless of party affiliation, as to why I have the experience and vision to be Norwalk’s next Mayor. The people deserve a respectful discussion of issues and ideas, and that’s what they’ll get from me.”


21 responses to “Norwalk’s Dem party chief slams Garfunkel move”

  1. LWitherspoon

    What’s going on with Harry Rilling’s rumored candidacy? For weeks there have been reports that he would be declaring his intention in a matter of days.

  2. Tim T

    Andy is the only one that can defeat Moccia as far as I am concerned. At times it seems like the dems really don’t want to win.

  3. Harold

    C’mon Tim T that move shows he has no business being in charge of our city! If he knew he was going to do this why did he take the position over the summer to just quit? Andy didn’t have a clue about any of the issues last election what makes us think he will this time around?

  4. Avatar

    Interesting to see candidates’ alter egos like Harold starting to weigh in. Guess it’s a sign of the times.

  5. Tim T

    Well Harold
    That’s you opinion however I disagree with it completely.
    So let’s hear out of the 4 dems that are running who you would like to see get the endorsement and why?

  6. Lisa Thomson

    As an unaffiliated voter, I am genuinely confused at the Democratic Party’s members and factions choices to bicker amongst themselves as they search for their perfect candidate. This is a Norwalk election not President of the United States. It didn’t help the GOP to field so many candidates nationally against Obama and conversely it won’t help the Norwalk dems. I think resigning as District A Chairman demonstrates a singular focus and gets rid of conflicts of interest (as much as one can in politics) but forcing a primary excludes 40% of the unaffiliated voters in Norwalk and will result in a compromise candidate when your electorate gets carved up into so many pieces.

    I want to hear Dick and Andy’s vision for moving Norwalk forward. No offense intended towards the other Dem candidates, but didn’t Andy get within 700-900 votes last time? Why would you mess with that? I would like to see a vision and proposed implementation plan and be able to compare? If I were a Dem, which I am not, a primary only helps the other party. I am tired of party politics, it is destroying the town, bring solutions.

  7. Original BARIN

    Good points Ms. Thomson, party politics is hurting Norwalk, and hearing their visions would help tremendously.
    I am a registered Dem and tired of the divisive politics.
    It comes down to who has the best chance to unseat Mr.Moccia.
    To be honest I think it comes down to Andy and Harry, nothing against the other two, but between the two as we clearly see, Andy will have a tough time convincing his own party he’s the man, which will carry over to voters.
    On the otherhand I think Harry will be able to overcome the party dissension, I think voters will focus on him more than on party shenanigans.
    A two pony race to primary in my opinion, with Harry coming out on top.
    Either one would be good, because both truly care about Norwalk.

  8. Suzanne

    With all deference to Ms. Duleep, this is why presenting a platform, some list of ideas as to how to improve the City’s process and progress, is so crucial. Lisa Thomson, your statement is entirely true.

    Per Ms. Duleep’s previous comment in this forum, a platform must be withheld until the candidate from the Democratic Party knows who they are running against and are never presented upon declaration of a candidacy. To me, that is when the candidate should be presenting what they stand for and running a campaign based upon an adversary’s decisions or ideas is poor strategy.

  9. Harold

    I think Mr. Mangiacopra is the only choice Norwalk has. I like the energy and urgency coming out of his camp. He has the vision and the plan that we need to get Norwalk moving forward again. While I’m sure you agree we need a change here I think it is going to come down to Mangiacopra and Rilling to get the bid. Isn’t Rilling just Moccia all over again? Its not my opinion that Andy quit that is fact.

  10. oldtimer

    Rilling is far from being “Moccia all over again” He probably knows more about Norwealk and the issues that count than any of the others. Andy is a very nice guy, but Rilling has a definite edge in education and what he knows.

  11. Suzanne

    The most successful mayors I have seen in living on both coasts have been those with a strict sense of accountablility and an excellent business head. The latter is particularly important because the bureaucracy that grows up around any government ends up feeding itself and helping no one. Businesses could not afford to be run like governments and especially not the City of Norwalk under this mayor. It is not enough to have good intentions and help your friends, have tantrums when things don’t go your way or fight with the opposition instead of negotiating sound policy. Do any of the Democratic candidates have these successful qualities? I am afraid being a professional politician or bureaucrat does not qualify.

  12. LWitherspoon

    Harry Rilling ran the PD for many years, that is probably the closest that any of the Democratic candidates has come to managing anything as large and complex as the City bureaucracy. It would be nice to see a candidate who is more business-minded but those are difficult to attract – a talented CEO is not likely to leave a highly lucrative private sector job with good bonus potential for a two-year stint as Mayor with lower compensation, zero bonus potential, and no job security.

  13. Avatar

    Wondering how long it will be before Harold assumes another identity on behalf of his candidate.

  14. Harold

    No alter ego here just a concerned citizen who believes in a candidate

  15. Tim T

    Running the NPD is not the same as running a business. Also comparing City bureaucracy to a business is comical. When one runs a business they are accountable for payroll..The NPD seem to have unlimited overtime..Also before someone says that is paid by contractors…..Just who do you think pays the contractors.. The taxpayer. Also in business when you do no meet standards you tend to get fired. I would say the crime in Norwalk has not met acceptable standards at least in my mind.

  16. Tim T

    I really don’t look at Andy quiting a a negative as he stated it was “to avoid the appearance of impropriety”. How is that wrong ???If anything I would say that is commendable and what we would want in mayor. I do agree that Moccia and Rilling are the same old same old and not the answer for Norwalk. However Mangiacopra is way to young for the job. I would want someone with a bit more life experience. Also this is not only my view as last election I actually heard people saying Andy was to young for the job. The funny thing is Andy is 50 years old. I just don’t see the people of Norwalk voting for someone 31 year old. If the dems are going to put a candidate on the ticket it needs to be one that can beat Moccia and as far as I can see Andy is the person.

  17. Tim T

    Lisa Thomson
    Your post is so true..Also let us not forget that Mangiacopra ran for sheriff and lost. On the other hand we had Andy who came very very close to unseating a long term Mayor. Also I would say Norwalk has gotten much worse since the last election and that would give Andy the needed info to go at Moccia

  18. oldtimer

    A police dept does NOT have unlimited anything. A budget is set and it is line item, meaning an amount allocated for an item cannot be used for anything else without council approval. There are emergencies that must be managed by the police and require overtime. That overtime comes out of an overtime budget and is carefully watched so as to not exceed the budget. The overtime budget seems like a lot because salary for a lot of officers that are never hired is transferred to the overtime account, with council approval, to pay officers to work double shifts or extra hours to fill in for the authorised positions that have not been filled. On top of that money is the overtime paid for working extra shifts at construction jobs. City finance people believe it saves money to pay overtime to fill some, but not all, of the authorised and never filled positions, and the practice has gone on for many years.
    If Tim knows how to run a police dept with less payroll, without cutting services, he should share that with us.

  19. Tim T

    Well we could start by hiring traffic agents like Westport at 15.00 an hour to watch a hole. Unlike Norwalk at 65 plus, with a city car and with city gas..We could also stop the insane practice of paying overtime when a Norwalk Police Officer works for another Norwalk city agency. We could also not pay an officer time and a half to guard a prisoner at the hospital. Hows that for a start.

  20. Joe Espo

    Rilling has a lot of enemies whom he’s arrested over the course of 40+ years. Having a bizzilion alienated voters does not a successful candidate make. Andy, as much as I like him, isn’t as sharp as, let’s say Rilling or Miklave. As for Vinny — well– he reminds me of Doogie Hauser and I challenge anyone to find a femto-liter of gravitas behind those wet ears. As for being a manager, Vinny ain’t the one. Here’s a story reporting on people who experienced municipal “Vinny-management”

    Vinny Mangiacopra, at one time in his post-pubescent life, convinced the Town of Monroe to hire him as the director of Economic Development. One has to wonder how a late-twenty-something aquired the experience to develop anything other than a.. ah…. a four hour one on a Friday night. But this is what the current Monroe Economic Development Commissioner Steve Schapiro said of Vinny’s run as Monroe’s economic developer after Monroe eliminated his position: “True we didn’t have the right person for the job,” Schapiro said. “I would be the first to admit it.”

    It’s here: http://monroe.patch.com/articles/does-the-town-need-an-economic-development-coordinator

    .So, this begs the question: if he couldn’t do it in Monroe as a mid-level municipal manager, what makes anyone think Vinny can do it in Norwalk as a chief elected officer?

  21. Tom

    While I respect the position of the party chair, no single person speaks for the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee ……………Amen!!!!

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