Updated, 4:54 p.m. Tuesday, video of Emily Wilson nominating Mayor Richard Moccia for re-election
NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia ended his silence Monday night in his quest for re-election to a fifth term, taking aim at his four Democratic challengers with his acceptance speech at the Republican convention in the Norwalk Inn.
“We all know the other side has had free reign in the media as they jousted for the nomination,” he said. “Their words have reminded me of the saying, ‘When you have the facts, you pound the facts. When you have no facts, you pound the table.’ There has been a lot of table pounding on the other side last couple of months. I have tried to refrain from interjecting into their conflict, but guess what, that ends tonight.”
Moccia went on to jab at former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel, Common Councilman Matt Miklave and District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, without ever mentioning their names.
The city’s triple A bond rating had been affirmed by Standard and Poor’s, he said, as he fired back at Miklave’s many calls for Performance Based Budgeting. If Garfunkel thinks the city needs to be better managed, “perhaps he should have applied those principals to the town clerk’s office.”
Mangiacopra’s newness to Norwalk earned him a slap.
“There have been some comments that I have become aloof, maybe I have forgotten where I came from,” Moccia said. “Well, I did not forget where I came from because I never left. I didn’t just get here a few years ago.”
Finally, Rilling’s attempt to get a job as the Newport, R.I., police chief before he retired was used as a target by the mayor.
“I’ve always considered my re-election as a contract with the people,” he said. “When I have been re-elected I have said I have no other ambition politically than to be mayor. I believe in honoring contracts. I never went to another state to apply for a job after I had a contract. That’s not called commitment.”
That drew tepid applause.
Two of his targets returned fire not long after the convention. Rilling pointed out that the mayor’s opinion of him seemed to change when he decided to run for mayor.
“Moccia extended my contract as police chief three times and appointed me to one of the most important commissions in the city. To now question my professionalism, competency and commitment to Norwalk is disingenuous and self-serving,” Rilling said in an email. “I have dedicated my life to service of my country and my community.”
Rilling said he has support from Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, and that his record of service “speaks for itself.”
“I stand ready to engage in a dialogue on what is not happening in Norwalk and how other communities are moving in a positive direction while in Norwalk ‘for sale’ signs are becoming more prevalent every day,” he said; “while businesses are closing; how we are not aggressively pursuing investors to bring smart growth and development to a city with amazing natural resources and cultural diversity. I am a proud son of Norwalk and I am committed to serving all people. I look forward to making Norwalk the best it can be.”
Mangiacopra issued a statement saying Moccia has failed in his stewardship of the city.
“If Mayor Moccia’s promises included higher taxes, a $4 million education budget shortfall, and stagnant growth, then I can understand his new slogan (Protecting Norwalk’s Future, but formerly Promises Made, Promises Delivered). The longer Moccia has been in office, the further out of touch he has fallen. He certainly knows how to take care of his own, but we need a mayor who can take care of all Norwalk’s 85,000 residents.”
Moccia also referred to the Democrats’ recent travails.
“They have commented about the lack civility in this administration. Their party is going to lecture me and the Republicans on civility? Really?” he said.
Last week’s Democratic convention, which ended without an endorsed mayoral candidate, also provided fodder for his jabs.
“When you are in a position of leadership and you are facing a crisis, like Sandy, Irene, the largest snowstorm in history, you cannot call the secretary of state and ask for a timeout,” he said. “You have to face the job and do the job. There are no time outs as mayor.”
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