NORWALK, Conn. – At least three Norwalk Republicans at the Hilton Garden Inn on Sunday to see Harry Rilling announce his desire to unseat Republican Mayor Richard Moccia, and one thinks the former Norwalk police chief missed something.
Rilling, one of three Democrats who are officially vying to be their party’s candidates to run against Moccia this fall, attacked Moccia’s record on development in Norwalk without mentioning him either by name or title when he said, “In 2011, September or October – figure out the timing – there were several groundbreakings in Norwalk. Since that time, the only movement has been the demolition of buildings, resulting in gaping holes on the West Avenue corridor.”
Rilling said that, as mayor, he would work to build public and private sector partnerships with all the stakeholders, freeing up the logjam that is Norwalk development, and getting the “well thought-out” projects started.
Asked by email for his opinion of the speech, Republican Town Committee Chairman Art Scialabba said, “Surprised that he didn’t realize the progress being made with Waypointe and the new firehouse and that sitting down with developers and banks would not change the national economic conditions. I didn’t hear how he would balance the needs of the taxpayers vs. wanting to have workforce housing, Head Start, fully funding BoE and the other programs he talked about.”
Scialabba said it’s early in the process. “He’s entered the first step in vying for the Democratic nomination, with no guarantee that’s going to happen,” he said. “We have to wait and see how the Dems differentiate themselves.”
The campaign for one Norwalk Dem sent out a press release shortly after the speech.
The statement made on behalf of District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, who wasn’t there for the speech, described the introduction by former Mayor Bill Collins, who cited Rilling’s ’41-year apprenticeship,’ as part of the reason Rilling is the best person for the job.
The statement continued, “After Mr. Collins explained that the event would not be critical of the Moccia administration, Mr. Rilling proceeded to give a 30-minute speech and not mention Moccia a single time.”
Mangiacopra is quoted as saying, “Our Democratic nominee for mayor cannot be afraid to tackle the shortcomings of our current mayor. My campaign is going to offer a bold, positive alternative to the Moccia administration and I believe that is what Norwalk wants and desperately needs.”