NORWALK, Conn. – One Norwalk Democratic mayoral hopeful went to see the man who had bested him Tuesday night, while the other two stayed close to their friends, one of them seeing those friends as extra important after the Past few months.
Andy Garfunkel, former town clerk and the 2011 Democratic Party opponent to incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia, said he had learned who his true friends are as he struggled to get just 10 percent of the electorate in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Common Councilman Matt Miklave, who got 15 percent of the vote, said he was disappointed in the turnout.
Both stayed with their supporters after it became obvious former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling had won a resounding victory.
Vinny Mangiacopra, who got 23 percent of the vote, thanked his supporters and said he was proud of the campaign they had run, given that, “Nobody expected us to come this far.” He talked to the press and then took a quick trip down to the Hilton Garden Inn to congratulate Rilling, the victor with 51 percent of the vote. He didn’t stay long.
Mangiacopra’s speech outside his campaign headquarters at 161 East Ave. also featured a thank-you to his wife, Kelsie Fedor.
“It’s not easy to bring this stuff home every day, but I am fortunate to have found the love of my life 15 years ago back in high school,” he said. “She didn’t know what she was getting into when we signed up for this last winter. A man is only as strong as his family and I wouldn’t have gotten this far if not for the people who believed in me. … We’ve come this far because we had allies here in the community that have worked alongside (us), not just when the bright lights are on.”
Will he help Rilling in the fight to unseat Moccia?
“I’m certainly going to do my part to help get Democrats elected here in November,” said Mangiacopra, District D chairman. “I have a lot of friends who are running on the underticket, I’m a leader in the district so I look forward to getting back into that role, helping my council candidates get elected this year. I’ll do my part as I do every year to help get Democrats elected.”
He said he and Fedor will start planning the future Wednesday.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “This is the first time that I’ve run for office but I’ve always believed in helping to serve the people, and doing my part, so I look forward to continuing on that path.”
Miklave was camped out at the Norwalk Inn.
“I congratulate Harry Rilling on running an excellent campaign and I look forward to an interesting contest in the fall,” he said. “Harry and I had a good conversation and we have agreed to sit down and talk in the future. Hopefully we’ll have a productive discussion.”
What else did he think?
“I’m a little disappointed in the turnout – 15 percent of the Democrats registered to vote in Norwalk voted,” he said. “I think that’s unfortunate, given the historic nature of the election and the important issues that the city is facing. I think that’s a disappointment.”
Garfunkel was at Partner’s Café. He wasn’t surprised by the outcome.
“I didn’t come into today thinking I was the front runner so this isn’t as big a defeat as it was last (time),” he said. “It’s unfortunate – kind of foresaw how things were going from the nomination process.”
He saw a silver lining in the disappointment.
“I’ve learned over the last couple of months who some of my true friends are,” he said. “I was surrounded by them tonight, my campaign staff, my friends. That makes this all worth it. I’m who I am. I ran my campaign the way I wanted to, on the issues that I wanted to deal with, and on the level that I wanted to deal with. I have integrity and a character that I will not compromise and make deals for. Some other folks made decisions to go with other campaigns and did what they had to do. I’m not sure where I’m going to go at this point.”
What about supporting Rilling?
“I haven’t made that decision yet,” he said. “Because of the way that I have worked through this campaign cycle and some of the people that I have worked with before, the direction that they took, the relationship that I have had with them over the last several months, I have to reassess who I want to work with and who’s involved.”