Hilliard says he’s calling it quits

Carvin Hilliard, right, and David Watts attend a 2011 Jim Himes forum at Norwalk Community College.

Updated, 11:38 p.m. Saturday, comment from Mayor Richard Moccia

NORWALK, Conn. – A member of the Norwalk Republican caucus is leaving City Hall after a decade on the Common Council.

Common Councilman Carvin Hilliard, a District B Democrat who has been caucusing with the Republicans since early February, said he is not running for re-election.

A retiree, he said he is going to spend winters in Santee, S.C., where he has family.

“I’m not going to be in Norwalk permanently,” said Hilliard, who is from South Carolina. “I’m going to be going home, probably spending the winter down there.”

Hilliard is one of three Democrats in the Republican caucus. None of them were endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee.

District B Councilman Michael Geake said recently that he will force a primary to run as a Democrat for the council. District A Councilman Bruce Kimmel is running for an at-large council position as a Republican Town Committee endorsed candidate.

Hilliard said two weeks ago that he wasn’t sure if he would run for re-election, but decided “a couple of days ago” not to go for it. He retired from his job as an insurance salesman in January 2009.

He said he has a sister, a brother and a son in Santee.

The Hour reports that Hilliard said property matters are behind his decision.

“It’s just that for personal reasons I’m going to relax, try to get out of spending these winters up here,” he said. “I just want to buy a home. You know what I mean?”

Hilliard left the Democratic caucus in June 2012 after after he was accused of leaking secret conversations to Republican Mayor Richard Moccia, an accusation he strongly denied.

Councilman Warren Peña (D-at-large), who was then minority leader, said at the time that Hilliard’s departure was part of the plan. “We have been changing the landscape of our party since I joined in 2011,” he said in an email. “This is right in line with our intentions, which is to move forward without folks like Carvin being a part of our future.”

“He would have faced a tough primary battle,”  Current Minority Leader David Watts (District A) said. “After 10 years on the council he’s looking to move on.”

Watts said he goes to the same church as Hilliard, Mt. Zion Baptist, where Hilliard is a deacon. He said Hilliard brought him to the church and has been a political mentor.

“Even though we had political disagreements, when we go to church on Sunday we have to forgive one another,” Watts said. “We belong to different caucuse but we’re in the same caucus with Jesus.”

Watts said he supported Hilliard when he ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2005. Hilliard has always been in the forefront of education issues and in the fight against outsourcing garbage collection, Watts said.

“We’ve had some disagreement, but I think he’s making the right decision,” he said. “I just think that, at this point in time, he’s doing the right thing.”

Moccia said he will miss Hilliard.

“I will miss him as a councilman but more importantly if, as I understand, he may be moving back to South Carolina, I will miss him as a friend,” Moccia said in an email. “A man of integrity.”


10 responses to “Hilliard says he’s calling it quits”

  1. loveforthecity

    Good riddance!

  2. M Allen

    I think its sad, but a sign of the times. Although the majority of voters tends to be clustered more in the center, the parties themselves are becoming more entrenched farther and farther from it. The phenomenon is much more obvious at the federal level because that tends to get the media attention, but it is rapidly trickling down to even the municipal level. When long-serving members of a particular party find they are being pushed away by the direction that party leadership is headed, for whatever reason, people might be better off asking what is causing this than blaming these individuals in some sort of political, defensive reaction.

  3. Tim T

    Glad to see him go. Hopefully Bruce Kimmel will also do the right thing and leave.

  4. diane ce

    two words: Term Limits

  5. Joe Espo

    ….and the Peña political purge continues. Let’s put those old folks on a train to the Gulag. We want new blood. The new Norwalk Yippies. Warren “Jerry Rubin” Peña channels the legacy of the Youth International Party: kill everyone over 30.
    What a shame.
    These are the new Norwalk democrats.

  6. Mike Mushak

    Thank you for your many years of public service, Mr. Hilliard. God knows we have had our differences, but in the end, we are all just trying to make Norwalk better, which is a lot more than we can say for the large majority of folks in this town who surprisingly remain apathetic about so many issues that affect all of us.

    God bless you and your family, and enjoy your retirement in Santee, which looks like a lovely place not far from Charleston, one of my favorite cities in the world. They even have bike lanes there! Imagine Norwalk being like Charleston someday (they give the mayor there most of the credit for having a vision and a plan, imagine what that must be like!)

  7. nwkprobate

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out … and Mr. Watts, what did Mr.Hilliard do “at the forefront of education issues”? I can’t think of a thing!

  8. Bill

    Mr. Pena does not control the landscape of the party, he is but one person who has one voice, as do all 16,000+ other members of our party in Norwalk, and no, Mr. Pena does not “speak” for Latinos, as much as he tries to act as the chosen leader of a diverse group of individuals.

  9. LWitherspoon

    @M Allen
    Excellent and perceptive comment.
    It’s disappointing to see Mr. Hilliard leave. We need more like him and like Bruce Kimmel, who vote their conscience rather than their party and who show respect to their peers and to all Norwalkers. At times Mr. Hilliard has voted with the Democratic caucus, at times he has voted with the Republicans, but always he appears to have provided honest representation guided by his conscience.
    I hope that the whatever new faces appear on council, they’re more interested in improving Norwalk than in waging war on others who happen to be in a different party. Any councilperson on either side who votes the party line 100% of the time should explain to us how it is that he or she never disagrees with the rest of his or her caucus. Is that councilperson really providing honest representation, or simply following marching orders?

  10. oldtimer

    Carvin will be missed, even by the people who were unhappy with his too close relationship with moccia.

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