Norwalk political notes: Roles being filled, vacated

Traffic Authority member Tony Lopez, upper left, introduces himself shortly after being sworn in Feb. 28.

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk political notes for you:

  • Rilling fills long-vacant Republican Police Commissioner/Traffic Authority seat
  • A new ‘Josh Morgan’ is on the way.
  • Former NPS CAO resigns post as Middletown Superintendent

Rilling appoints Lopez to Police Commission, after six-month vacancy

Mayor Harry Rilling has appointed Tony Lopez to the Police Commission and the Traffic Authority, filling a seat left vacant in August when Kelly Straniti departed to seek a job in the Washington D.C. area, after earning a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security.

Lopez introduced himself to fellow Authority members Feb. 28 in a demure way, saying only, “I really look forward to serving with everyone here,” he said.

He’s an insurance agent, multiple webpages say, and principal of Liberty Choice LLC.

Both governmental bodies are three-member Boards, made of the Mayor and two residents, with the same three Commissioners serving on both. City Charter specifies that the two residents cannot be from the same political party.

Republicans were frustrated by the delay and said they’d submitted multiple candidates for consideration, dating back to when Straniti departed, according to Common Council member Thomas Keegan (R-District D).

“I do not understand what the hold-up is,” Acting Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Fred Wilms said in early February.

Rilling said he’d had many people express interest and “it’s important to select the right individual.”

“Tony Lopez was recommended by Councilman Tom Keegan,” Wilms said last week. “Tony recently rejoined the Norwalk RTC and we are delighted that the Mayor has appointed him to the Police Commission. Tony has been active in the Norwalk community for many years.”

The appointment brings more diversity to the Police Commission and Traffic Authority, as Lopez is Hispanic. He joins Rilling and Fran Collier-Clemmons, an African-American who has held the role since 2013.


New Communications Director to be announced

Norwalk has hired a new Director of Communications.

“She’s amazing,” Mayor Harry Rilling said Feb. 22 to Common Council members. “She has a master’s degree. … She’s working now at a very, very high-level place. She is fluent in Spanish, has a wonderful, wonderful background of experience.”

A communications manager position was created nearly four years ago as the first action in Rilling’s reorganization of administrative positions. Josh Morgan was hired for the role and then promoted to Director of Communications about a year ago. In January, he accepted a job in the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s communications department.

Norwalk’s new Communications Director is starting Thursday and an announcement will be issued that day, Norwalk Chief of Staff Laoise King said Saturday.

“I think we’re going to have a wonderful person who can get information out to the community,” Rilling said Feb. 22. “Josh did a wonderful job. I think we’re able to take it, maybe, one step to the next level, because of her past experience.”


Conner, target of hate mail, exits Middletown

Michael Conner, Ed. D., left Norwalk Public Schools in 2017 for what then-Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski and others called a “great opportunity,” the chance to lead another school district.

Now, Conner has left that job. Conner resigned Thursday, effective immediately, from his post as Middletown Public Schools Superintendent.

Conner and two other Middletown Public Schools Central Office executives were placed on paid administrative leave in January, pending an investigation into employee claims of workplace misconduct, according to the Middletown Press.

But Conner’s resignation comes “days after he posted on social media about a hate letter that was sent to his home. Middletown police started an investigation into the origin and intent of the mail,” Fox61 reports.

The 15-page letter allegedly contained death threats and racially charged language, the Middletown Press reported.

Conner Tweeted his resignation letter.

“I am not resigning because of the baseless claims, political posturing, and a one-sided investigation process that is more interested in reaching a result in lieu of finding the truth,” Conner wrote in the letter. “The recent threats to my family and myself has caused me to reevaluate personal priorities. At this time, my priority is family.”

His Tweet said, “With the new developments of district leaders from a neighboring town involved in the plot, coordination with city officials/white supremacy, and racism at its core, I want to do real work. Not worry if I am going to be alive. Moving on!”

On Tuesday, Norwalk resident Lisa Lenskold sent Conner a Tweet, saying it “breaks my heart” to hear about the hate mail and calling Conner, “One of the most talented and selfless school administrators I’ve had the privilege to work with.”

Conner was hired as NPS CAO in August 2015. He was credited as being a major factor in NPS reducing the achievement gap by one-third. At the 2017 BoE meeting where his departure was remarked upon, then-BoE member Artie Kassimis said Conner could be secretary of education one day.


One response to “Norwalk political notes: Roles being filled, vacated”

  1. Mack

    What a mess up in Middletown. Mr. Conner deserves better and I wish him and his family well. He is a fine man. A solid citizen. A class act.

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