Miklave pitches intelligence in his drive to be Norwalk’s mayor

Matt and Sandra Miklave campaign Thursday outside Ripka’s at the Beach during the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Beach Bash BBQ.

NORWALK, Conn. – Campaigning to be Norwalk’s next mayor came with food Thursday night for Matt Miklave, who delved into issues with a potential constituent as they both munched on chicken barbecued by Clyde Ripka yards away from scenic Calf Pasture Beach at the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Beach Bash BBQ.

Issues are the norm for Miklave. The Common Councilman said Tuesday that “ideas resonate,” and that he thinks he has a good chance to win the primary.

“I’m running this entire campaign on the belief that ideas matter, that voters are smart, they understand a good idea from a bad idea,” he said. “… I know it is resonating throughout this city. I have knocked on over 1,500 doors. I have talked to over 2,500 voters. I know that a campaign of change, where you present people a real choice with real ideas – not some platitude, an empty promise – but a real choice with real ideas, will win the day. I am convinced that I will become the next mayor of the city of Norwalk.”

The issue of choice for Miklave was Oak Hills Park as he sat and ate Thursday with Troy Jellerette  at the Beach Bash, which was also visited by two of Miklave’s Democratic opponents in the Sept. 10 primary, Harry Rilling and Vinny Mangiacopra.

“If it were truly self-contained, and fully paid for by themselves, didn’t encumber our debt – and they didn’t destroy the wetlands – I’m totally fine with them reconfiguring the course and figuring out a place to put (a driving range),” he said.“I can’t hit the par 5s anyway, so it doesn’t hurt me. I don’t care.”

That drew a smile from Jellerette.

Miklave continued, “I just don’t want the city’s bonds encumbered by their decisions. I don’t think they’re being transparent enough about those discussions. Everything happens behind closed doors and it’s all in executive session. It’s our debt.”

Jellerette suggested that perhaps the authority should be done away with, that the park should go back under the auspices of park and rec.

“I’m OK with having it be an independent authority because I think it can be a revenue raiser that can be reinvested in the park,” Miklave said. “If you put it in the general fund there’s pressure to take the profits and move them elsewhere. I just don’t want them to think we have a blank check over here that we’re just going to sort of dump into them to back fill their mistakes. They just are not being open enough with us when they come to us. It happened too many times for us to say we trust you.’ I don’t think they’re evil.”

The chicken gone, Miklave moved on to talk with other potential voters.

Jellerette didn’t say if he would vote for Miklave, but he did have a thought about the upcoming primary.

“I think it should be competitive, I think it will be good,” he said. “Should be close.”

It’s a tough time to be campaigning, he said, as many people are out of town.

Miklave and his wife spoke about the dichotomy of Norwalk at their next stop.

“In the same day I was on Ely Avenue and Bell Island,” Miklave said. “They are in the same school zone. The issues that they face are night and day, but at the same time, the things that they care about, the things that resonate with them, it’s all the same thing. They want the same things for our community. That’s an amazing thing.”

One of the men he had been talking to, a registered Democrat, said he thought he would vote for Mangiacopra.


“That’s a little personal,” he said.

Matt Danyliw, an independent voter, said “I don’t know, we’ll see,” when asked if he would vote for Miklave over incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia.

Miklave was nice and easy to talk to, said one Republican, who said he would stay true to his party in the November election.

“”It was a nice introduction,” he said.

Miklave ran through his standard introductory dialogue with Daphne Dixon and John Fleming – he’s lived here 22 years, the 2012 Board of Education financial fiasco inspired him to run – before talking about the importance of small business.

He didn’t stay long. They live in Fairfield.

Fleming liked Miklave’s ideas, though.

“We didn’t get to talk to him long enough, but if he’s accurate and true about what he’s saying, I like what he’s saying,” he said. “Now, a lot of people can say that and it’s tough to get it done, but he’s got the right ideas. Small business is the backbone of this country and they’re under too much red tape right now.”

Miklave talked briefly with two women before leaving the event.

One of them, a registered Democrat, said she wanted to vote for Miklave but she didn’t think he could win. Mangiacopra is too young, with no real experience to qualify him for the job, she said. Rilling “ruined the police department,” she said. But they appear to be front-runners and she doesn’t want to waste her vote, she said.

She grimaced.

“I’ve got a feeling Moccia’s going to win,” she said.


9 responses to “Miklave pitches intelligence in his drive to be Norwalk’s mayor”

  1. Piberman

    Not many long time Norwalk residents would agree that “…voters are smart”. Better to say they have had “limited opportunities and more than their fair share of failed promises.” By both Parties. And the long ago Independent Party. The very limited upward mobility of our elected leaders into positions of influence at the State level speaks loudly. Politics has always been purely local self interest. The utter indifference by all our elected officials on repairing NEON is Norwalk personified. Voters may be smart Mr Miklave but really aren’t smart enough to see the forest through the trees. None of our elected Mayors have gone on to greater glories. That makes us unique among our State’s major cities. Mr Miklave lives in a world of ideas- an admirable universe. That’s a questionable ability in Norwalk politics. Lets keep it simple – move Norwalk forward ! Lets have 6 figure salaries for all City workers. Now that’s an idea that resonates ! More money for education. Safer streets. Good jobs for everyone. Major new development will lower everyone’s taxes. And no more potholes anywhere in Norwalk. Those are the “ideas” that move Norwalk elections. Please don’t make it complicated. That’s not a winning strategy here.

  2. KSully

    Piperman — And the Sugar Plum Fairy will pay for it all. Right? The problems bearing down on Norwalk are unlike anything we’ve seen in the recent past. There is a funding crisis that will show itself as soon as next year’s gubernatorial election is decided. As Miklave has said, running a $350,000,000.00 enterprise – like the City of Norwalk – is not for the dull witted or the compromised. It is complicated and it requires more than a little grey matter to do it well. Miklave is the only candidate is this race who has outlined a plan to address Norwalk’s problems, a plan to pay for better education, a stronger local economy, senior tax rebates, crime prevention efforts and a plan to rid the Norwalk Democratic Party of our current embarrassing, rock’um – sock’um leadership. Sounds like a pretty good start to me. Miklave for Mayor! The Smart Choice!

  3. Piberman

    Suggest KSully read the City Charter. It is Common Council who has the primary ruling powers not the Mayor who only has limited powers such as recommending BET and Commission Chairs and Dept Heads. Odds are a new Mayor will keep the in place team. That’s been our City tradition. To claim an incoming Mayor can improve short run education funding, the local economy and crime is just political double talk that is unsupported by evidence here and elsewhere.

    Where a new Mayor can make a short run difference is holding the line on the budget and taxes. That requires a new team with financial and management skills superior to those at hand. To be taken seriously a reform candidate needs to identify his new team. And give a clear statement about taxes, eg no increase. Successful mayors put together teams of advisors ready to manage differently upon taking office.

    Neither Mr Miklave nor any of the other candidates have yet done that. That suggests they haven’t gone beyond campaign rhetoric. Every major recent large city campaign in CT has put together “policy books” and implementation plans. But Norwalk just excels at rhetoric.

    Mr Miklave is a seasoned and competent legal professional. To make the jump towards a successful City Mayor requires both a plan and a new team. Being Mayor is a team effort. None of candidates have major business management experience. That’s not uncommon among politicians. But the ones who truly understand the task ahead do put together suitable teams ahead of time. That Mr. Milkave hasn’t done do by now is disappointing. Again the Mayors job is team effort. Mayor Moccia understands that as does every long termed mayor.

  4. D(ysfunctional)TC

    He’s so intelligent, it only took him 8 years on the council to figure out there might be a better way to do budgeting. Give him another eight years as mayor and he might actually be able to explain exactly what programs he will cut or grow. This far into the game, it doesn’t look like the man is capable of giving anything specific and he certainly has had time to deliver.

    For his supporters here who don’t seem to understand what the rest of us are asking for here is an example. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. Ok, we get that. But you can’t stop there. You need to follow up with something like “small businesses are the backbone of the economy, so working with the council I will pass an ordinance that exempts their business property tax for five years while they establish themselves in the city. The upfront loss on revenues to the city will be more than made up for by the appreciation in the tax base of a thriving city with loads of economic opportunity”. You see that is something specific, whether you agree with it or not. Are we ever going to hear something specific or is Matt asking for us to vote for him so we can find out what he plans to do?

  5. Don’t Panic

    Same old script. Mr. Miklave offers specifics and people just pretend it didn’t happen.
    @Berman just because he hasn’t announced a team doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one in mind. You can be sure, however, that his team WON’T be made up of people who have been cutting back room deals for political advantage.

  6. Tim T

    States “Not many long time Norwalk residents would agree that “…voters are smart” With that I agree as they elected Moccia.. Thank You for pointing that out Piberman

  7. Suzanne

    “Don’t Panic”, I appreciate your perspective. Of all the candidates, Matt Miklave is the only one really outlining a plan of action. piberman, please check out his WEB site. For goodness sake, how many people are going to delve into the intricacies of governmental policy and procedure over a plate of chicken? From this article, it seemed like he was listening to the constituency more than “bloviating” as he is so often accused of in his politicking. Wow! Grasp that! A person who thinks, whose resume is above and beyond that of any other candidate, who knows what the world looks like outside of the confines of Norwalk, and who has a PLAN on how to implement positive change without the backroom deals and histrionics. I think people who vote their party without thought, at least in this town, are so demoralized they can’t get outside the box Moccia has put them in. And I think it will take Norwalk a lot of courage to vote for Mr. Miklave, whose standards of practice mean a change for the better. I take courage and I take hope. And I think that is what Mr. Miklave stands for.

  8. Piberman


    We have by now a good idea of what each of the candidates brings to the table. Some have admirable professional qualifications. Others a bit light.
    What do we know about the Democrat Council candidates selected by the DTC ? Do they have plans or ideas ? Would they just support a Democratic mayor just because ? Even though they have the real power by Charter ?
    How would a Democratic mayor work with the current Council ? The great tragedy here is that an indifferent DTC forces each candidate to run “solo”.
    Hence the need for detailed plans. Even a few thoughts from the DTC selected Council candidates. And BOE candidates. Will the DTC really support a primary victor who pledges to replace them ? At day’s end the DTC is the Norwalk GOP’s best friend. Sad but true. And come next election well qualified potential candidates will better understand the difficulties that a dysfunctional DTC puts in front of candidates. That may well be Mr Miklave’s lasting contribution – success requires a competent and well functioning DTC and that just isn’t on the horizon.

  9. Suzanne

    Piberman, I could not agree with you more. I think the DTC is the biggest liability to Democratic governance in this town and their reform is long overdue. There should be NO dependence upon their organization in this election. They have demonstrated their worth by distraction and destructive behaviors. They do not serve the citizenry. I do not know what the purview is for a mayor to clean house there but I hope at least pressure is put upon them to change their leadership in particular and their membership generally.

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