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Kydes forms Mayoral committee, Rilling lays groundwork for reelection run

At left, Democratic Mayor Harry Rilling. At right, Common Council member John Kydes (D-District C). Both images are from February.

Updated, 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, more information; 3:47 p.m. Tuesday: Statement from Rilling for Mayor, story rewritten.

The 2021 Election will focus on municipal seats.

NORWALK, Conn. — The Norwalk Mayoral contest is underway – Mayor Harry Rilling has filed papers to run for reelection, while a close Democratic colleague has formed an exploratory committee for a possible Mayoral run.

John Kydes, former Council President, announced Tuesday morning that he is “testing the waters to see if there is support for me to continue on in higher office.” This appeared to catch Rilling by surprise: hours later he announced that he and his campaign treasurer Nate Yordon filed the necessary campaign paperwork last month to lay the groundwork for him to seek a fifth 2-year term as Mayor. 

The statement from Kydes, a District C Democrat, took a jab at the development that Rilling has taken heat for in the last two election cycles.

“Norwalk has changed considerably in recent years. It’s time we take a breath, evaluate those changes and plan for the future. Increasing our tax base is important but just as important is the quality of life,” Kydes is quoted as saying.

“Norwalk is on the right track because of Mayor Harry Rilling’s leadership,” the statement from campaign spokesman Adam Wood said. “Economic development is strong across the city, Norwalk schools have seen historic investment and improvement and crime is down.”

Further, “The thoughtful and steady leadership exhibited by Mayor Rilling and his administration has been evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said. “Early in the pandemic the Mayor made tough decisions to help keep the community safe and expanded resources to public safety and public health personnel. Many of these actions were later implemented across the state.”

A photo released Tuesday by JohnKydes4Norwalk: Then-Norwalk Common Council President Tom Livingston (D-District E), left, and then-Majority Leader John Kydes (D-District C). (JohnKydes4Norwalk)

Kydes is in his fourth 2-year term on the Council, having come to office in the same election as Rilling. He has served as Planning Committee Chairman since November 2015 and was Council President for two years, starting in November 2017. He’s been majority leader twice, in the 2015-17 term and the present one.

He also led a Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force, a 2014 Rilling initiative, has led District C Democrats and is chairman of the Nathan Hale Middle School Governance Council.

Kydes prides himself on being a life‐long Norwalk resident, his press release said.

From left, then-Norwalk Common Council President Tom Livingston (D-District E), then-Majority Leader John Kydes (D-District C) and Mayor Harry Rilling, November 2018 in City Hall. (NancyOnNorwalk file photo)

“To properly serve the community you must understand the needs of that community,” he is quoted as saying. “From the senior on a fixed income to the Parent with a child in the public school system, everyone needs to be included in the conversation.”

Rilling is also a lifelong resident. It’s considered an advantage when running for any Norwalk elected office.

Rilling and Yordon filed the paperwork with the Norwalk Town Clerk’s Office on Nov. 12, the press release said. That was nine days after the general election.

Rilling always files his paperwork in November and plans to make his announcement in January, Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez said.

“Today’s announcement doesn’t change his timeline. The Mayor has strong support among the public and the party. I don’t anticipate a primary,” she wrote.

Republican Town Committee Chairman Carl Dickens said the developments indicate that Rilling will face a primary from Kydes.

“I think that from purely a politically-involved person in town and a Republican in town, it will be fun to watch a Democratic primary between two very strong personalities,” he said.

Forming an exploratory committee makes it possible for Kydes to raise money for a possible campaign, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said.

Kydes spoke up at Monday night’s Zoning Commission public hearing on the proposal for a distribution center at Norden Place, as a private citizen, and asked Zoners to deny the application. Rilling was also present but did not speak. It’s illegal for a Mayor to interfere with Zoning.

Kydes has the support of wife Naomi Kydes and their two children, 14-year-old John and 16-year-old Sophia, in this endeavor, the release said. Kydes is quoted as saying, “I would not be able to begin down this long road without the full support of my family.”

Wood’s statement said:

“The Mayor has been blown away by the support that residents and businesses have shown during this crisis to those who needed a helping hand. He firmly believes the City can and should do more, and addressing these challenges remains a top priority for his administration.

“As always, Mayor Rilling looks forward to the opportunity to have a healthy dialogue with all Norwalk residents and any candidates who choose to run for office. It is a symbol of Norwalk’s success that there is competition to lead it.”

 

Dickens said he’d heard rumors that Kydes was interested in running.

“And so he’s taken that bold step,” Dickens said. “And, you know, now sit back and watch. We just have to get ourselves a very strong candidate to run for the Republicans, that could run a good race against either one. So I wish both of them good luck. I wish the mayor good luck. I mean, it’s been a hell of a year to be mayor of any town.”

Original story:

Common Council member John Kydes (D-District C). (Photo contributed by the Kydes exploratory committee)

NORWALK, Conn. — John Kydes, former Council President, has formed an exploratory committee for a possible Mayoral run.

“It has been a great honor serving our city on the Common Council and now I am testing the waters to see if there is support for me to continue on in higher office,” said Kydes, a District C Democrat, in a statement.

Mayor Harry Rilling, after being asked if he’s decided not to run for Mayor again, said he would be releasing a statement within hours. The Democratic former police chief was first elected in 2013.

Kydes is in his fourth 2-year term on the Council, having come to office in the same election as Rilling. He has served as Planning Committee Chairman since November 2015 and was Council President for two years, starting in November 2017. He’s been majority leader twice, in the 2015-17 term and the present one.

He also led a Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force, a 2014 Rilling initiative, has led District C Democrats and is chairman of the Nathan Hale Middle School Governance Council.

Kydes prides himself on being a life‐long Norwalk resident, his press release said.

“To properly serve the community you must understand the needs of that community,” he is quoted as saying. “From the senior on a fixed income to the Parent with a child in the public school system, everyone needs to be included in the conversation.”

Rilling is also a lifelong resident. It’s considered an advantage when running for any Norwalk elected office.

As for his vision for Norwalk’s future, Kydes is quoted as saying, “Norwalk has changed considerably in recent years. It’s time we take a breath, evaluate those changes and plan for the future. Increasing our tax base is important but just as important is the quality of life.”

Kydes spoke up at Monday night’s Zoning Commission public hearing on the proposal for a distribution center at Norden Place, as a private citizen, and asked Zoners to deny the application. Rilling was also present but did not speak. It’s illegal for a Mayor to interfere with Zoning.

Forming an exploratory committee makes it possible for Kydes to raise money for a possible campaign, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said.

Kydes has the support of wife Naomi Kydes and their two children, 14-year-old John and 16-year-old Sophia, in this endeavor, the release said. Kydes is quoted as saying, “I would not be able to begin down this long road without the full support of my family.”

10 comments

Mimi Chang December 8, 2020 at 6:05 pm

“The statement from Kydes, a District C Democrat, took a jab at the development that Rilling has taken heat for in the last two election cycles.“

Mr. Kydes has been right by Mayor Rilling’s side, voting in copious amounts of development (I believe the number of apartment units greenlighted since 2013 is 6,000…), at times quite controversially and with lack of transparency, literally behind closed doors, from the POKO debacle to present day. Mr. Kydes more recently gave a thumb’s up to the development heavy East Norwalk Neighborhood TOD Plan, which insanely proposes 1200 more gentrification apartment units. His pro big development voting record gives him no leg to stand on here.

John ONeill December 9, 2020 at 9:16 am

I only have 2 questions for John Kydes today:
1) Two years ago you increased the school budget by 9% and said to the Board not to expect to come back anytime soon for as large an increase. Last year they came back and you gave them practically the same increase..What gives? You need backbone to deal with city finances. Let us know why you changed your mind.
2) In your kickoff comments you mention taking a breath from changing Norwalk zoning. BUT, just a few months ago you supported massive changes to East Norwalk. Again, which is it? Massive changes to East Norwalk or taking a breath. You can’t have it both ways.
Regarding Harry Rilling who I personally like: Every time I see your campaign manager’s name mentioned I cringe at the fact that his spouse leads the Norwalk Teacher’s union from her Million Dollar home in one of those suburban towns activists seem to want to integrate. On the surface it confuses the independence of those negotiations. I understand the Mayor is not directly involved but I view it as a bad look.

Steve Mann December 9, 2020 at 3:46 pm

We have a critical issue in East Norwalk regarding a special permit application for a distribution center at Norden Park, which will dramatically alter the nature of the local community and possibly the entire district.

Mr. Kydes issued a statement of his opposition as a “private citizen”. We all know the public sentiment, as evidenced by over 1,300 signatures stating opposition, and not one person stating their approval.

As a possible mayoral candidate, I am challenging Mr. Kydes here to state his position as a Common Councilman whose district is at stake. Thanks in advance for your response.

Jim McGuire December 9, 2020 at 6:09 pm

Two words: TERM LIMITS.

Imagine a country where we had no professional politicians.
Where an individual stepped up and served because they saw a need, not because it was inevitable that they moved to the next level. Selectman once, Mayor once. House Rep once, Senator once.

No pensions for serving as an elected government official, but a sense of duty for having served as a “side job” to your source of income.

I guess a man can dream.

Peter Torrano December 10, 2020 at 8:12 pm

I’m a little confused. Mr. Kydes opines that Norwalk needs to improve its quality of life. Does that mean the Democrats in power, having been one for eight years himself, has failed to work toward improving Norwalk’s quality of life? Why did he not speak up sooner, take the lead and require the Mayor and council to make those improvements?

And, is Mr. Kydes looking to abandon the Democrat platforms in place and replace them with….the Democrat platforms in place? So, what would be the difference between Kydes and Rilling? Kind of like trading in your 2004 Ford Taurus for another 2004 Ford Taurus.

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