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Mangiacopra, Peña, encounter gripe fest at Norwalk Greek Festival

Vinny Mangiacopra at Norwalk Greek Festival 082213 003
Democratic Norwalk mayoral candidate Vinny Mangiacopra greets Dmitri Dassouras, 11, Thursday at the 2013 Norwalk Greek Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk is not a place to live if you are in your 30’s or 40’s, one man said. Putting a kid in private school was a poor way to spend money, so it was time to move to Wilton, another man said. The city has been playing games instead of helping him with a utility problem, a senior citizen said.

Those were some of the sentiments that greeted Democratic mayoral hopeful Vinny Mangiacopra and Common Councilman Warren Peña Thursday evening at the Greek Festival, where attendance was light on opening night, perhaps because of the stormy weather earlier. Common Councilman Matt Miklave, one of Mangiacopra’s three competitors in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary, was also on the scene at St. George Orthodox Church at about 8 p.m. He headed home with his wife before NancyOnNorwalk could get the chance to see what he was up to.

Mangiacopra was hoarse, which he said was the sign of running a good campaign – he has been doing a lot of door knocking in his drive to be mayor.

It’s a privilege to be able to shake hands with people and start a conversation, said Mangiacopra, who first said hello to the Rev. Nicholas Dassouras and then found the pastor’s son, 11-year-old Dmitri Dassouras, in the gyro booth.

Dmitri already knows Mangiacopra, as he has had Mangiacopra’s wife, Kelsie Fedor, as a teacher at Cranbury Elementary School.

Then it was on to Milton Kyriakides, a Republican, who was slicing meat. Kyriakides didn’t have much to say, but when the two candidates walked away, he indicated that, given the right choice, he might vote against incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia in November.

If the Dems present Mangiacopra or former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, he’ll vote Democrat, he said. If it’s Miklave or former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel, he’s voting Moccia.

Why?

“I have my reasons,” he said.

Pressed for what they might be, he said, “I’d like to see the younger generation get into office and start cleaning up the mess.”

But Rilling is only three years younger, right?

Kyriakides smiled. He would vote for Rilling, he said.

Mangiacopra spent much more time talking to Iannis “Yanni” Papakosmas, who said he was born and raised in Norwalk but moved to Wilton five or six years ago.

“I love the school system there,” he said.

It made more sense to spend money on Wilton property than Norwalk private schools, Papakosmas.

“That’s what we’re seeing,” Mangiacopra said. “People of our ages, when they make that decision, that’s what they end up doing,”

There was much more. The mill (tax) rate is much better in Wilton, Papakosmas said, and Norwalk is “beating the hell” out of the roads. Utility companies do work and then put in a temporary patch, he said, but it takes much too long for someone else to come along and do the permanent patch.

Small businesses have a huge problem in Norwalk, he said.

“You can’t find or rent a space in Norwalk without giving blood,” he said. “You have to cut your arms off.”

Leonard Paschalidis, who has lived in Norwalk for 45 years, said Connecticut Light & Power broke his sewer line when the company was doing other work on the street, and he has been getting a “run-around” ever since. “The city doesn’t pay attention,” he said, adding that he didn’t have sewer service from December to July and yet got charged sewer tax.

Paschalidis said he pays $120,000 a year in property taxes on multiple properties.

“I might vote for him,” Paschalidis said of Mangiacopra.

George Cross said there is a lot of waste in city government. He asked why deputy corporation counsel Jeffry Spahr gets paid nearly $200,000 – Spahr was paid $140,019 in 2012, according to documents – while his boss, Robert Maslan, gets paid much less ($82,315).

Mangiacopra said Maslan is part time, to which Cross said, “Why not outsource the legal department?”

Pena had that answer: That would require a charter revision.

“These guys will not open up the charter,” Peña said. “If they do, they know there’s going to be a lot that comes out.”

Mangiacopra agreed it needed to be done. Fellow candidate Andy Garfunkel has made charter revision a central issue in his platform.

At this point, though, no one will take a leadership role, Peña said.

“It’s not necessarily D vs. R, sometimes, there’s a lot of generational gap,” Peña said.

Cross said he votes Republican in the presidential election. Half the guys his age don’t vote, he said. “They’re so frustrated.”

He asked where Peña and Mangiacopra fall on the spectrum.

“I never knew that until I was in office. They call me a fiscal conservative and a social liberal,” Peña said.

Why are he and Mangiacopra Democrats?

“We know we’re not Republicans,” Mangiacopra said.

Cross said Norwalk is not a good place to raise a family.

“This is a place to live if you’re in your 20’s or 50’s,” he said. “This is not a place to live if you’re in 30’s or 40’s.”

After they walked away, Cross said he didn’t know who he would vote for.

Mangiacopra said Thursday was “seven months to the day” since he started running for mayor. The conversations had a familiar tone.

“We hear those all the time. Frustration. Nothing gets done,  the same old, same old,” he said. “When we meet citizens who say they’re excited for a fresh start, young blood, however they frame it, it’s gratifying because they believe in what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Most people haven’t been following the electoral politics, he said.

“I don’t think there’s a buzz in the general population that there’s a primary here,” he said. “I don’t get the sense that people are engaged to that magnitude. I think the insiders are extremely engaged.”

People become interested, he said, when they are greeted by a candidate.

“When you’re campaigning out here and you’re raising the awareness of the election, they become very interested,” he said. “They become motivated to do what they can to help. That’s what we found – we’re not only campaigning for ourselves but we’re campaigning collectively, for a lot of people that feel that they haven’t had their voices heard.”

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Comments

26 responses to “Mangiacopra, Peña, encounter gripe fest at Norwalk Greek Festival”

  1. Don’t Panic

    Meet the “young blood”, who will become the next “old boys club” if elected.

  2. Independent Taxpayer

    My parents should have advised me to jump on that sweet, sweet taxpayer-funded civil servant gravy train. Unbelievable. No wonder this town is on the ropes.

  3. notaffiliated

    Everyone talks about nothing getting done. Been to Calf Pasture Beach lately? I could go on

  4. M Allen

    A recent survey, which I can’t seem to find, shows the Wilton Mill Rate is virtually identical to Norwalk. But yeah, the schools. If there is indeed flight from Norwalk, that is the primary reason. Those who can look to take that option more and more often.

  5. Admo

    You’re not your in the first sentence.that us a pet peeve.Poorly written article.That said We need young blood!

    (Editor’s note: Our typo has been fixed.)

  6. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Too bad you didn’t ask the complainers what they are doing about it besides voting. If everyone just did a little bit, Norwalk would be a much better place for it. Like Pena and Mangiacopra it is all just a lot of talk and no action. To those so aggrieved: Have fun living in Wilton. Sooner or later your apathy and lack of effort will bear fruit their too.

    To our political newcomers: If Charter revision is such a hot topic for you, why isn’t it on top of the platform? Why don’t you scream out about it every chance? Can you please focus on one area and actually accomplish something instead of pandering to anyone and everybody about anything the happen to gripe about?

  7. EveT

    Interesting that Mangiacopra said “Most people haven’t been following the electoral politics.” Because if they had, they would have been asking about his ties to the Bridgeport politico and convicted felon Ernie Newton. Perhaps Mangiacopra didn’t do anything illegal in Bridgeport, but his association with Newton is at the very least an indication of bad judgment and “old boy” networking.

  8. Norwalk Spectator

    To Not Affiliated…

    The Hour had a story in early July stating that the bids were out for repairs. The big hold up on this has been getting the State DEEP permits and FEMA approvals. Last I heard, the repair barge should be coming in soon to start replacing piles on the pier. Due to the depth of water there, they only have a limited window to work in each day, based on the tides. Once the piles are replaced, the rest of the work can be done from the landward side of the pier. I don’t remember the status of the sea wall.

  9. Norwalk Spectator

    To Independent Taxpayer,

    I wish my parents had advised me to go into civil service, also. But I just want to point out that Norwalk isn’t the only city in this situation. It’s a problem right across the nation.

  10. M Allen

    I think we all need to recognize that mountains get made out of mole hills regarding most of the issues that get raised. Everyone has a gripe about something and when asked they respond like it is the end of the world. Just as an example: bike lanes and driving ranges are serious first world problems yet they are fought about like they were clean water. That being said, the attitude is contagious and each incremental gripe builds on the last. To just discount them is foolish. No city can survive, let alone flourish, if the “cans” leave and the “cants” are left holding the bag.

  11. Piberman

    Thanks for posting the Norwalk salary list. All readers would do well to ask why our elected officials routinely give out 150k salaries like candy in a City where the median household income is only about $72,000. No wonder the primary campaign isn’t drawing much attention – the candidates are ignoring our City’s punitive taxes and excessive salaries ! If elected the candidates would surely keep the Norwalk “honey pot” flowing. No wonder our municipal workers are the happiest folks around. Norwalk does more for its public servants than any other City in the state and each of the candidates wouldn’t change the gravy train. That’s why the primary is so BORING.

  12. Really

    MICHAEL MOCCIAE DIRECTOR OF REC/PARKS/BLDG makes more money that RICHARD MOCCIA – Mayor —- unbelievable———

  13. M Allen

    Let’s not go too crazy with the “salary” list. First, it appears this is total compensation including overtime and side jobs, especially with regard to police officers where security and construction jobs are calculated in. And please let’s not debate the merit of how that works. But unless I am wrong, when an officer works one of these sanctioned side jobs, like a construction site, he is paid by the city, but the city is paid by the site operator.
    .
    And let’s also not pretend that because the median household income in Norwalk is $72,000 that we should be paying something less than a competitive salary when it comes to our municipal workers. The fact that we have a mixed demographic that skews the median to the low end makes this a specious argument at best. Are our salaries for each position out of line with the same job in other parts of Fairfield County? Does a police officer in Norwalk deserve to get paid less than a police officer in Westport who then deserves less than one in Greenwich just because the median incomes in those areas are higher? We need not be the highest paying city in the state, and must learn to live within our means, but a comparison to the median income is somewhat insignificant.

  14. bill

    “I never knew that until I was in office. They call me a fiscal conservative and a social liberal,” Peña said.

    Yet he wants to give away the $1,000,000 in savings for trash collection to gain union votes, that’s not “fiscal conservatism…what a joke.

  15. Dennis DeManis

    It’s The Chief vs. The Punk!

    EveT—Please tell the tale for the uninformed: what office did Newton hold? & what was VM’s association with him, was VM deposed regarding crooked deals? I’d rather vote for VM than the Chief or the incumbent fossil, but not if the punk is already a crook.

  16. bill

    Mangiacopra doesn’t care about schools or property taxes, his wife inherited a home for only $60,000 3 years ago that is now valued at $568,000, very interesting:

    http://ct.blockshopper.com/property/5-31-105-0/8_thistle_road

    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/8-Thistle-Rd-Norwalk-CT-06851/58808582_zpid/

  17. Dennis DeManis

    Bill—What makes you say that the kid doesn’t care about schools or property taxes?

  18. bill

    When you don’t care about a mortgage because you have none thanks to marrying money, property tax increases are meaningless.

  19. tank

    Please get your facts straight about mangiacopra , he didn’t inherit anything. You guys keep bashing mangiacopra, so it only tells me that you all are VERY worried that he will become the next mayor , and another thing ,stop talking about this Newton guy already it’s getting old!! Senseless comments just make you haters look bad!! punk,little boy, just childish!! Will see on the 10th of sept, all you chief supporters didn’t relize you are in a fight till the end!!

  20. Sunny

    This postings’ photo is creepy. it’s like he’s oogling at the kids!!!! Please, change it.

  21. Tim T

    M Allen
    states
    “But unless I am wrong, when an officer works one of these sanctioned side jobs, like a construction site, he is paid by the city, but the city is paid by the site operator.”
    The thing you forgot to add is the taxpayer pays the site operator aka the construction company. So each and every penny of the 65 plus an hour for a cop to do nothing comes from the taxpayer. If it were a flagman it would be 15 per hours. This is millions of dollars of waste in this police cash cow that every candidate is afraid to take on.

  22. Tbaggz

    @Bill… Your argument is just wrong, He’s one of the hardest working indivuals out there campaigning everywhere. I can count at twenty to twenty five times I have seen him just out of the blue. Where’s Moccia? He should be hiding under his desk.. By the way what does any inheirtance have to do with anything? Be sure not to leave your kids anything.. you might get dragged through the mud from this bill guy… C’mon are you to ignorant to see Norwalk’s Future Is Now!!!

  23. Dennis DeManis

    Could somebody state something resembling facts here?

    Like who was/is Newton, and what does the kid have to do with him? Stop slinging jive and instead serve up some truth.

    Rilling and Moccia are geezers who’ll just keep up the same old game while Norwalk rots. The kid could outdo them; why shouldn’t he be the candidate?

    (Editor’s note: Here are a couple of links to help bring you up to speed)

    https://www.facebook.com/ernest.newton.39/posts/120409628112664

    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Movie-examines-Newton-s-quest-for-redemption-3897335.php

  24. Don’t Panic

    Punks? Geezers? Is that the level of debate that will help the voters make an informed decision? No wonder everyone is fed up with the Democratic party. If you want to see some real change, bring on Mr. Miklave. He will reform the budget process, and use the savings to fund the things Norwalk voters have been asking for.

  25. spanner

    Its sad to think Mayor cupcake is whom some want.Its great to see some taxpayers are not seeking from the R party but a solution instead.Its not ok to take cheap shots but then again I’m no saint towards the Republicans.Another shooting tonight in our great city and so close to our annual fest we simply don’t need shootings to dominate over the good that is done by Seaport and others for our kids and city.Its so sad to see the faces of the children tonight with blue flashing lights that bounce of their innocent eyes and this is how Norwalkers have to live?Those who are not directly effected by these shootings certainly have had it as well enough is enough.Norwalk is hurting again tonight pray for those who are in or near projectile paths bullets have no conscience.So many times multiple shots have rung out in the city we havn’t had a child get hit.We can’t keep playing the odds with our kids its just not a good lottery to host in our city.

  26. M Allen

    Yes, spanner. Perhaps more community policing will stop the bullets. I hear the Dems are big supporters of police efforts to stop violence. No offense to Harry, but his party isn’t one that really supports the police or a community’s efforts to put down crime through anythign other than just talking about it.

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