Norwalk Republican announces run for Mayor
Says, ‘Win with Vin’
NORWALK, Conn. — Vinny Scicchitano is running for Mayor to represent Norwalkers who feel disenfranchised, he said.
Scicchitano, a lifelong Norwalker and a Republican Town Committee member for several years, filed campaign registration papers Jan. 27, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said. Scicchitano’s website and social media presence went online late Monday, including a letter emphasizing that he “wants to represent YOU.”
“I want to create a movement that brings quality of life issues in Norwalk to the forefront and makes residents the priority. Whether you have just moved to Norwalk or have deep roots here, we welcome you as a Norwalker and I am committed to listening and taking action to improve our city,” Scicchitano said in the letter.
Scicchitano is seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling, who was born and raised in Norwalk and has always lived here except when he was in the military. First elected in 2013, Rilling is in his tenth year as Mayor.
Endorsements are made in July. Scicchitano, who has never run for office nor served in government, said he knows of no other interested Republicans at this point.
This is the earliest Rilling has had a Republican opponent officially come forward. His first challenger, Kelly Straniti, made a campaign announcement in April 2015; two years later, Andy Conroy debuted that May. Lisa Brinton filed in Dec. 2018 as an unaffiliated candidate and won the Republican nomination in July 2019. Jonathon Riddle came forward in July 2021.
Rilling and Scicchitano are friends, they said. Scicchitano said his potential candidacy has been an RTC topic for months and he’s looking to represent the families who have been here for generations and residents who feel disenfranchised by one-party rule. He wants to get people involved and a discussion going.
“I believe that nobody is a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, unaffiliated,” he said. “If you live in Norwalk, everyone in Norwalk has a say in the community that they live.” Slightly less than half the voters “have not been really represented or not taken to account and to, for a lot of different reasons.”
He said, “The one-party rule seems to make all decisions based on an echo chamber. There doesn’t really seem to be much input from, what they say, ‘the other side,’ but I don’t really see another side…. It’s disheartening to have friends that have been here a long time and say, ‘I’m going to move away, I don’t like it here any longer.’”
Scicchitano has owned East Norwalk business Accurate Auto for 40 years.
“I have successfully sponsored The Norwalk Oyster Festival which is a pivotal fundraiser for nonprofits in the area, including the Norwalk Seaport Association. I also serve as a member of the Saint Ann’s Club of Norwalk and have previously held the position of President,” he said in the letter.
Scicchitano told NancyOnNorwalk that he could go on for “hours” about the issues he cares about and the ideas he has, but, standing in Veterans Park, focused his thoughts on the “lovely harbor.” He doesn’t want to see the Cape Cod-like atmosphere turn into a concrete canyon, he said. He added that the planned East Avenue work will help spur development that will make the area into more of a city than a community.
“One thing that’s very troubling to me is this conversation about development,” he said. “I’m not anti-growth, I just believe that growth needs to be done at a pace that the community can absorb.”
The “expansive growth” has “diminished the quality of life” for longtime residents, he said. One example: “Fourth of July, you couldn’t get into your own beach.”
Getting more community members involved in would prompt “healthy debates rather than have these decisions made in an echo chamber,” he said. “… Win lose or draw, if I can bring more people into this debate concerning their community then I’ve won.”
Scicchitano said he’s Republican because he’s “financially conservative” but has always been “very socially liberal.” That makes him “middle of the road” and “somehow, in the past bunch of few years, we’ve seen this political debate be completely controlled by one extreme or the other. And that’s just not real world. That’s not the people I know, and it’s not the people in this community for certain.”
He’d like to see Norwalk Republicans present a full slate of candidates on this fall’s ballot, he said.
Republicans did not have anyone running for the Board of Education in 2021. There were many holes in their ticket.
Scicchitano said he’d seek the Independent Party endorsement as well.
Brinton, Independent Party State Central Committee member, did not immediately respond to a Monday evening email.
While Scicchitano feels local government responds to Hartford or Washington rather than residents, “I’m not critical of the current administration whatsoever,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a right and a wrong. I don’t think there’s a good and an evil. I think it’s a matter of opinion of how you want to the community that you live in to turn or how you want it to how you want the future of your community be.”
Further, “I have a tremendous respect for everyone that that works at City Hall, from the Mayor on down,” he said. He will “never ever disrespect” Rilling, “who served our country with honor” and served the community as a police officer and then chief before becoming Mayor.
“If I lost his friendship, it would be very painful to me,” Scicchitano said.
Rilling said Scicchitano informed him of the decision to run for Mayor before making the announcement.
Rilling’s response to the announcement:
“I am honored to represent the people of Norwalk as Mayor. I’ve worked hard to bring jobs, tax-base growth, revitalization, public safety, and high-quality public education to our City. Every other year, I look forward to the campaign season, as it offers an opportunity to connect with residents across Norwalk, discuss our record, debate issues and meet new candidates who share a passion for our city. I fully embrace the democratic process and welcome any and all candidates who choose to participate in it.
“Actually, Vinny and I are good friends so I’m confident we will have a civil and robust issue-based campaign.”
“It’s not about personalities, it’s not about anything other than a choice for a direction that you would like to see Norwalk going,” Scicchitano said. “Come November, if that choice is loud and clear, that they want to continue with this expansive growth and turning the city of Norwalk into a larger city, then that’s the way it goes.”
John O'Neill February 7, 2023 at 8:05 am
Note to Vinny: It won’t be Harry slinging the mud. It never has been. It’s his political operatives behind the scenes. Maybe Vinny can start accepting resumes to replace current school administration so he’s ready to act on day 1.
This actually may be an interesting election cycle. Probably not as interesting as 2024 when DC “Fun” money completely goes away and Revaluation kicks in…
David Muccigrosso February 7, 2023 at 8:44 am
If you want “growth at a pace the community can absorb”, then we need to allow, by right, the next level of density across ALL zones.
Period. If you can’t clear that bar, dear Vinny, then you’re nothing but another unserious hollow hypocrite like Harry and the last guy who volunteered to play his heel.
Roger Shields February 7, 2023 at 11:25 am
Kudos, Mr. Scicchitano;
Your concepts are laudable and presented with an honest, forthright manner. Specifically, the concept of additional open space (publicly accessible) for each additional residential unit yet to be built hits the mark of sensible planning to maintain this beautiful city as a small community.
Bryan Meek February 7, 2023 at 12:01 pm
As our growing government continues to distance itself from the realities the private sector has to endure through lack of effort to generate meaningful public participation with behind closed doors decisions and barely advertised public meetings replete with technical glitches, it’s refreshing to see a businessman step up to the plate. It’s not a knock on being a public servant, but it would be nice to have someone at the helm knowing what it takes to make payroll for 40 years as opposed to just collecting it.
JUSTIN MATLEY February 7, 2023 at 3:43 pm
I think this is great. Our elections deserve a robust debate about issues that matter to Norwalk, and I appreciate the RTC elevating someone who seems respected and, at face value, to offer a different perspective to the discussion.
Victor Cavallo February 7, 2023 at 6:49 pm
Go for it Vinny!
Johnny cardamone February 7, 2023 at 8:09 pm
Vinny is a hard-working gentleman and has a heart for Norwalk and I believe we all need to get behind him to take back the future of our beloved town!
john flynn February 10, 2023 at 8:45 am
Finally, an excellent candidate. 100% endorsed by Flynn. Vin you go high, I will expose the rest. Johnny best of luck. Bless you.