NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s Democratic mayoral candidates have a variety of opinions when it comes to the pay raise the mayoral position is eligible for in January.
Common Councilman Matt Miklave (District A) said he would take the raise if elected. Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling said he definitely would not – and would ask that it be eliminated. Former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel said he “didn’t need it” but didn’t say he’d turn it down. And District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra said he wasn’t aware there was a raise – but if he becomes mayor it means he would have “more to give back to the community.”
The mini-controversy was ignited in February when the Common Council voted to grant a 21.5 percent pay raise to the next mayor, boosting the salary from $113,963 as of Jan. 1, 2012, to $138,465 as of Jan. 1, 2014 — a raise of $24,502.
Rilling was quoted in Sunday’s edition of The Hour as saying that he would ask the council to rescind the raise.
He left Tuesday night’s mayoral forum before NancyOnNorwalk could ask him to expand on that quote, but the other three Democrats lingered longer.
The question was, if you are elected, will you take the pay raise? Here are their answers:
“I don’t necessarily have to, no,” Garfunkel said. “To have the job would be an honor as it is. The pay is second bonus to having the position. I don’t think I need to have that pay raise. I understand the value of it, of why the mayor’s salary needs to be – or why the CEO of a major corporation or city needs to be where it is. I don’t necessarily advocate for it. If it’s there, it’s there. But can I refuse it? I have the opportunity to do that, yes. I would definitely consider it. I have to win first. It would definitely be an increase in salary anyway for me to get the position. So whether I take the bonus on top of that? I don’t think I have to.”
“What pay raise? … I’m not even familiar that the pay was raised. Whatever the salary is, I would like to be able to use my discretion as to how I want to get that money back to the community. That’s probably going to be my plan, to use my own discretion as to, no matter what the salary, use my own discretion to commit dollars out there in the community.
Mangiacopra said his campaign sponsored a team at the Click it for Cassie fundraiser last weekend, and won. The campaign donated to the Seaport Association and the Open Door Shelter, he said. “We’re trying to give back,” he said. “That’s the kind of administration I’ll have. One that gives up.”
Pressed for a yes or no, Mangiacopra said, “Whatever the salary is, is the salary.”
“The mayor of the city of Stamford makes $150,000 a year. I don’t know of any company with a $350 million operating budget that is paid as little as the mayor of the city of Norwalk. I’ll say this: when I decided to run for mayor I had to have a big talk with my family because we’re taking a huge financial sacrifice if I win this election. I think that’s enough. I have three kids – actually they think they’re going to go to college. I have a financial responsibility to my family. So I think the $138,000 a year that they mayor makes, which is less than Stamford by a lot and a lot less than what I make now, would be enough of a sacrifice.”
Correction made, 12:09 a.m. June 20: Miklave had been quoted as saying “$300 million budget,” but what he really said was “$350 million budget.”