I chose not to stay on the Planning Commission and I never sent in a formal request to be reappointed.
I have spent ten years working for the City of Norwalk. I have really enjoyed this time, but, after a decade I have other priorities. I am raising two children that are growing up so fast and I want to spend more time with them. I have a business to run and, in the past year, I have had much on my plate. I need a pause. I want to focus on my kids, my business, my health, my friends, and my personal interests.
I have really enjoyed my experience with the City of Norwalk and am proud of all I have accomplished.
On the Common Council – I was key in the creation of the City’s Customer Service Department and securing the $6 mm of funding for the addition to Rowayton School. Customer Service is now a key feature of the City’s relationship with residents. The Rowayton School building was bursting at the seams and desperately needed the construction of additional classrooms and a gym. I was always an advocate for funding of education — from building management to increasing the number of teaching staff. Some of the most intense meetings that I participated in were the finance meetings related to BOE funding.
My term on the Zoning Commission was great. Mike Mushak and I were pretty much outnumbered, but we fought hard for more transparency and I really enjoyed my term. I always supported smart building and more communication between departments and the people of Norwalk. Some of my most memorable meetings related to the mosque in West Norwalk and the lights at the Nathan Hale playing fields. I will never forget those nights.
The Planning Commission was a refreshing change. I loved working on the POCD, the West Ave project, and the East Norwalk TOD as well as the City’s different operating departments. I loved being Vice Chair with Chair Fran DiMeglio and enjoyed my friendship with her that developed.
I will not miss, though, the prolonged budget meetings. I was proud that I stood strong and fought hard for our schools, sidewalks and our ball parks. Everyone from the Mayor to Common Council Members knew how passionate I was regarding these three areas and how determined I was to get ball parks funded and built. The long nights of debate for funding the new schools and my passion for Nathan Hall lights and bathrooms (Ken Hughes – I will be watching ), tennis courts, soccer fields (yeah West Rocks), and girls’ softball fields speak for themselves. I believe these were all critical needs that required the City of Norwalk’s attention.
My biggest disappointment and, one of the reasons I did not want to stay on the Planning Commission, was how the Norwalk High School project was handled. Though an avid supporter of schools, I thought the process was underhanded. The Mayor and Director of Finance ignored and bypassed the City Charter and the process the Charter lays out.
The one thing I have learned in the past ten years of public service is that a long-term politician can be like a guest – just like fish, if they stay too long they begin to stink. Term limits are a good thing! If elected officials stay too long in a role, they no longer bring a much needed fresh perspective to leadership. Terms limits for mayors and council members would be good for our City
Another disappointment was Mayor Harry Rilling’s failure to change the City Charter to combine planning and zoning into one entity – instead he reorganized the City into a top-heavy entity led by the non-elected Laoise King. One P&Z would really create full transparency for the taxpayers of Norwalk. This is still needed and, now with all my experience, I know this what needs to be done in Norwalk. In addition, these P&Z positions should really be elected. They should not be appointed positions. These should be the checks and balances to elected politicians like the Mayor and his team, including the appointed assistant to the Mayor, Laoise King.
The friends I have made has been part of this journey I will not forget. So many of them left a lasting impression on me and valued the time I spent with them: Michael Wrinn ( big loss for Norwalk), Adam Blank, Tom Hamilton, Dr. Steven Adamowski, John Igneri, Chris Tierney, Frank Nash, John Kydes, Anthony Carr, Ken Hughes, David Westmoreland, Mike Barbis, Heidi Keyes, Fran DiMeglio, Richard Bonenfant, Kelly Straniti, Lisa Brinton (Thomson), Travis Simms. Eloisa Melendez, David Jaeger, Tammi Strauss, Vinny Mangiacopra, Michael Mushak, Tammy Langalis, Mike Lyons, and Marc Bradley. I am sure I missed a few. If I had never went into politics, these people would not have come into my life and I have enjoyed what I have learned from them and the relationships that I have with many of them on a personal level. My kids also learned by example. Be involved and have a voice is my motto and my kids love it. My passion will remain fighting for schools, sidewalks and ball parks and for the future of all kids. I will continue to hold our politicians accountable. I am very happy to be focused on my family right now. With my mom’s recent illness and her recent passing – I realize how fleeting life can be. Stay strong Norwalk and I will see you around town!”