Opinion: Immigration and its impact on Norwalk

Lisa Brinton.

Lisa Brinton is unaffiliated and the Republican endorsed candidate for Mayor.

Recently, prominent local Democrats have accused me of making hateful comments and being “anti-immigrant, anti-people of color, and anti-diversity.”  I want to set the record straight for anyone who doesn’t already know me – nothing could be further from the truth: I am none of those things.

What I am is deeply concerned about addressing the complex challenges that face our city now and in the future.  Complex challenges do not have simple solutions – soundbites and personal attacks provide no solutions at all.  Immigration policy is a highly polarized national issue that is, sadly, now all too often reduced to a binary choice by politicians from both sides: you are either pro-immigration, embracing diversity, or anti-immigration, driven by hate. 

As far as my position on these issues, first and foremost I reject this binary choice.

Norwalk is an incredibly diverse city and I embrace that diversity.  I recognize that we are a nation of immigrants and I believe that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.  As mayor, I will have no say in crafting our national immigration policy, however, it will be my responsibility to address the very real challenges on the ground, created as a result of the polarized national debate that has produced innumerable soundbites, unfathomable division, and no concrete solutions whatsoever.

Governing is hard work, we must face the realities of budgetary concerns and balance competing interests.  We must craft solutions that best serve all of the residents of Norwalk.  I am committed to seeing Norwalk continue to be a welcoming and diverse city. However, we are not a welcoming city if we then allow the most vulnerable of our residents to be exploited because we fail to properly regulate and enforce housing codes and safety regulations. We are not a welcoming city if we cannot adequately fund the programs in our educational system that address the complex needs of our diverse students.  We are not a welcoming city if rising taxes push out single family homeowners or if fortress apartment developments, resulting gentrification, and rising rents price out existing, long term residents.

As mayor, I will roll up my sleeves and work every day to find realistic, meaningful solutions to these complex challenges.  In seeking such solutions, we must first reject the entrenched party positions on all sides. I will reach into our community to find the best solutions regardless of who they come from and regardless of if they are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.  I want to unite our community and draw on our best and brightest to implement innovative, effective solutions.  I challenge those Democrats who have expressed their opinions so forcefully on this issue to roll up their sleeves with me when I am mayor and bring their best ideas to the table.

I was deeply disappointed to read the recent attacks levelled at me by some local Democrats. These are men who are also members of this community and my neighbors.  I value and love this community and as mayor I will do the hard work required each and every day to bring us together, not split us apart.

Norwalk’s uniqueness lies in the very fact that we are a city which retains the feel and character of a close-knit community.  We should not be attacking one another.  I am not anti-diversity, but I am anti-divisiveness.   Let’s unite in our shared love of our great city Norwalk and work together to make it the very best that it can be.  Let’s leave the divisiveness behind and get back to governing from a place of best ideas and hard work, not best soundbites.

I am Lisa Brinton, and I am pro-Norwalk.


David Mapley October 29, 2019 at 7:20 am

The most obvious issue here is the under-representation by our State Senator, Bob Duff, in deriving increased budgetary allocations from Hartford for ELL and other educational resources now being provided to this influx of migrants by our public schools, as per CT state policy. Why should my property taxes be paying for this State policy. “do your job, Bob!!”

Mike Mushak October 29, 2019 at 8:22 am

Lisa Brinton is in trouble, and after her long deliberate campaign of divisiveness, she now has to declare herself “anti-divisiveness? That’s laughable, and sad at the same time.

Lisa is now trying to backpedal her long ugly campaign to deliberately divide the city as she pushed her false narrative for over a year that renters are a burden on single family homeowners, and that taxes have gone up to support renters.

Both of these claims are pure nonsense.

First, every single one of Lisa’s vocal supporters who claimed their taxes are “exploding”, actually saw tax decreases, confirmed on Zillow which is all public record. In fact, Lisa’s own taxes were reduced by 9.2% this year, and her taxes are the same as they were 14 years ago.

Yet Lisa’s beautiful home in Rowayton with a swimming pool is now worth over a million dollars more than when she bought it. We should all be as lucky in real estate as Lisa has been.

Lisa’s divisive campaign against renters and even the 2500 new mall employees (calling them low-skilled minimum wage jobs which is completely not true) smacks of elitism and a lack of empathy for those not as wealthy as she is, which is the vast majority of Norwalkers. It’s no wonder she has to now declare herself “pro-diversity” and “anti-divisive”. Up till now, she’s been the total opposite.

And renters are NOT a burden on single family homeowners! The new apartments are attracting mostly millennials and empty nesters without children, and are reviving our downtowns with new businesses and jobs and street life. And our growth rate is still one of the slowest rates per decade over the past century. Our growth is not “out of control”, but our grand list is growing and taxes are dropping through smart growth and good city management.

Lisa Brinton’s position on renters has been completely debunked, as it turns out renters pay more in property tax than single family homeowners, and cost the city much less in services and energy use as they aren’t sprawled out along hundreds of miles of paved roads and utilities that are expensive to maintain..

Let’s be clear. Lisa’s concerted year-long effort to create fear of and animosity towards renters among homeowners is nothing more than dog whistle racism to appeal to her Trump-loving base of Republican support, the party that fully and solely endorsed her. Lisa is now trying to make up for that by publishing this embarrassing “I love diversity” declaration.

Why won’t Lisa Brinton condemn Trump and his morally corrupt Republican-backed policies that affect every Norwalker every single day? Harry Rilling has, but Lisa is too afraid to offend her core base of Trump supporters.

Sorry Lisa, this letter is too little, too late.

As one of Lisa’s most vocal supporters, Republican candidate Scott Vetere, said right here in the comment section of NON on a recent article:

LISA 2019!
TRUMP 2020!

Enough said.

I do agree with Lisa on one major point she makes. We should all agree “to unite in our shared love for our great city of Norwalk”, by rejecting the blatant divisiveness of her campaign and the Republican Party and voting ROW A DEMOCRAT on November 5th, keeping the divisive and angry Republican Trump defenders and enablers out of power in Norwalk City Hall!

john flynn October 29, 2019 at 8:53 am

Duff does not recognize Spanish Speaking Latinos as Caucasian. There is a difference between migrants and undocumented welfare recipients; and Immigration reform has been a failed policy initiative used for political gains. Sanctuary Cities have no right to rob from Citizen Peter top pay undocumented Paul. Redistribution of wealth should be decided by the people paying the taxes, not the foreigners receiving the handouts that are not taxed. Duff and his party have moved so far to the left without merit, that he had to launch an unwarranted personal attack, just like he did in 2018. It is his mo.

Another Opinion October 29, 2019 at 11:40 am

For the record, are the candidates conflating illegal with legal immigration and proclaiming Norwalk a sanctuary city? If so, both candidates should be precise on how they would handle a perennial influx of illegal immigration as an open borders city and how they plan to ration resources or raise taxes to meet this demand. Detail is needed here to say the least.

Ron Morris October 29, 2019 at 2:26 pm

I have asked LISA the same question several times.
“Lisa Brinton condemn Trump and his morally corrupt Republican-backed policies that affect every Norwalker every single day?”
She has never replied. Here is your chance once again Lisa
YES OR NO????????????????
Please note This question is for Lisa not here mouth pieces on this site

John ONeill October 29, 2019 at 2:27 pm

@David @Another Opinion — Our elected leaders have had their heads buried in the sand on the issue of funding for ELLers. This year’s increased numbers are larger than normal, but ELL has doubled since 2010. It’s incredibly disappointing that they have gotten ZERO Dollars from Hartford or DC over past 10 years ($ 225 Million spent on those students over that period) This year’s cost is a helluva lot more than $ 1.20 Million..How does $ 35 Million sound? Think about other programs reduced over this period. Why hasn’t the press questioned these officials on their lack of action? AND, please don’t blame Trump, our guy Obama was in office for 8 years, and we received nothing. I would hope someone from Mayor’s office responds. Maybe Bobby Duff has some info? I’ve emailed Duff 3 times, and am still waiting for reply. That’s pretty sad.
One last thing — Are rank and file teachers afraid to speak out. They sure as hell know what’s going on this year. I really do like Harry Rilling, BUT he should admit his failures and correct them. If he waits any longer, the issue will mushroom like a California Wildfire.

John Miller October 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm

I’m not sure that there’s anything more divisive than the constant, intellectually dishonest, disrespectful, Alinsky inspired partisan rhetoric coming from the likes of Mushak, Morris, Duff and Camacho. How about an original idea once in a while (such as addressing John O’Neill’s concerns with the ELL students) rather than just shilling for Rilling. Talk about other people being mouthpieces! As John McEnroe might say: “You have got to be kidding.”

Tysen Canevari October 29, 2019 at 9:26 pm

Ron and Mushak,

You two are really reaching! Talk about something relevant to Norwalk. Lisa is unaffiliated not republican. The republican party chose to endorse her. That basically means nothing. I voted for Trump in the last election. Does that mean I love him? No. All of you die hard democrats thrive on the anti Trump campaign. Should we bash you because you voted for Hillary? Not at all. Its the beauty of the democratic process. Lisa is presenting her campaign to the public so people can determine for themselves who they will vote for. Mike must have used the same argument here a thousand times. May the best candidate win but please spare us the nonsense. I wish Nancy would edit you as much as she does me!

Ron Morris October 30, 2019 at 12:08 am

John Miller
Please tell me one thing in my past comment that is divisive , intellectually dishonest, disrespectful, Alinsky inspired partisan rhetoric . I simply asked a question that Lisa refuses to answer. It seems to me that your comment is right out of the Trump playbook.
Also everyone please note that Lisa still has not answered the simple Yes or No question.

Milton October 30, 2019 at 7:38 am

It seems that when you stay silent on baseless accusations of being racist, liberals consider that an admission of guilt. When you defend yourself, liberals consider that an admission of guilt.

I am happy that someone like Lisa with some common sense is running. I think there are many people that feel the same and will be voting for her.

Then we need to address the others that use the immigration issue to their own political benefit at the expense of their constituents. Bob Duff and also our elected officials on the Federal level like Jim Himes, Blumenthal, and Murphy. These guys have done nothing to help bring real solutions to the immigration issue and CT pays for it.

I think the liberals have pushed this issue so far that people are tired of it and the tide may be turning.

I hope that Lisa is elected.

John ONeill October 30, 2019 at 10:13 am

@John Miller — It’s deplorable that many are trying to connect DC politics with local issues. I’m tired of people painting with broad strokes. The venom is not needed on boards like these, but I’m afraid it’s now part of our social fabric. To those who paint with broad strokes, the old adage “People who live in Glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” comes to mind.

John ONeill October 30, 2019 at 6:58 pm

@John Miller – So there’s no confusion, last post was not directed at you, but some of your antagonists. ..

John Miller October 31, 2019 at 1:14 am

Ron Morris:

Every time you ask Lisa to publicly condemn Trump you are being intellectually dishonest, disrespectful, and mindlessly partisan; and idiotic statements such as “sounds like something straight out of the Trump playbook” are insufferably phony. The freedom of speech that we enjoy in this country gives us the right to speak freely but not to misrepresent what others say or, for that matter, what they choose not to say.

John Miller October 31, 2019 at 1:34 am

@John O’Neil – I couldn’t agree more. As you’ve probably already guessed, I don’t have a great deal of patience with the disrespectful rhetoric.

Jo October 31, 2019 at 7:18 am

Mike and Ron – This race isn’t about Trump and DC. It’s about Norwalk, a city that Lisa Brinton clearly cares about. Your constant deflection to Trump in this race reeks of desperation.

For the record, I am one of many, many lifelong Democrat, anyone-but-Trumpers (you will be shocked at how many of us there are out there… a very good friend just cast her absentee ballot yesterday) who will be voting for Lisa next week.

Gareth Moody October 31, 2019 at 1:07 pm

I don’t think Lisa is racist, but she has seemed very careful not to alienate the racists who support her.

Emiliano Vega October 31, 2019 at 3:16 pm

@Mike Mushak,

I’m a 18 year old first-time independent voter still looking to make a decision. I wanted to address your argument that property taxes are low under Rilling. I decided to look at my family’s property taxes as well as those of my extended family which lives in different sections of Norwalk. I used Zillow to conduct my research. I won’t publicize details because of some potentially private information and for my family’s sake, but I found that in each case I looked at, since 2015 the amount paid in taxes had increased despite some stagnation in property value. If you want to say that Lisa had benefited under Rilling’s policy, fine. But don’t use that example to generalize and say that everyone who’s taxes have gone up is lying.

Bryan Meek October 31, 2019 at 4:21 pm

I see it’s ok to call people racists now. I missed that change to the comments policy. Another thread ascribes motive too in that regard without any substantiated connection to Lisa’s campaign. How sad after 6 years, no one can discuss the issues and instead devolve into slander.

Steve Mann November 1, 2019 at 10:11 am

“condemn Trump and his morally corrupt Republican-backed policies that affect every Norwalker every single day?”

There you go Ron, and Mike. You want to identify a divisive comment? In fact, there can be no more of a rallying cry to polarization than to ask someone to make a one single statement by which you either condemn or praise them. Well, it worked for hate groups in history, so why not give it a go, huh?

And the fact is, renters do put a burden on Norwalk’s ratepayers. Traffic congestion, increased housing construction over-populating areas lacking needed infrastructure, strained public schools and their budgets, and yes, under-taxation of the entirety of local residents. I don’t care what anyone says, fourteen people living in a two family house do not contribute “their fair share” of RE taxes to the city. This doesn’t even touch on the culture change we’ve seen over the past few years. Driving around Norwalk sometimes is more of a blood sport than a nice jaunt around town.

As far as being “lucky” in real estate, seeing appreciation in one’s home value is a not a badge of dishonor. In fact, I’d rather hitch my wagon to someone who made a wise choice in what is the single largest investment of one’s life. I know that my own home isn’t worth what it was pre-recession, and Mike, by the way, you’re underwater since you purchased as well.

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