Opinion: Norwalk is keeping its charm while enhancing its assets

Mayor Harry Rilling. (File photo)

How many other communities in Connecticut have the vibrant urban core of a big city while also having the neighborhood charm seen in small towns? Throw in our coastal resources and abundant open spaces, and you’ll see how Norwalk is a unique gem. People want to live here, raise a family, start a business, plant roots, or retire. Norwalk is a great city, and I am proud to be your Mayor.

The truth is, the Norwalk of today isn’t the same as the Norwalk of yesterday. I feel fortunate to have been born here, raised my kids here, and now being lucky enough to see my grandkids attend Norwalk Public Schools. Through every generation, Norwalk has grown, improved, become safer, and more desirable. I have seen the changes firsthand. I remember the flood of the 1950s that decimated the Wall Street area. I remember being a Norwalk Police Officer working midnights in SoNo and seeing violent crime up close and personal. I remember prime lots of vacant land becoming overgrown and undeveloped. Some might argue that change is bad, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Take it from someone who has lived here for their entire life – Norwalk is not losing its charm or character; it is enhancing the great assets we have.

I know some are against growth and increased density, but the fact is how people live and work is changing. This has evolved over the years from single-income homes with a stay at home parent and another working a 9-to-5. Now, a new generation may or may not get married, may or may not drive a car, and may or may not work remotely. A diverse population requires a diverse housing stock. It means single-family homes. It means apartments. This is why Norwalk’s population is on the rise, while other communities decline.

Investments are happening all over Norwalk. We are addressing aging infrastructure that was neglected for decades. We are improving existing and building new schools, upgrading and replacing stormwater systems, and paving roads and installing new sidewalks. Without economic development, a greater burden would be placed on residents instead of commercial property owners. New developments have helped grow our Grand List by more than $2 billion. That growth allowed us to lower the Mill Rate, and as a result, reduce taxes for most people.

Grand List growth is also shifting the tax burden off of single-family homeowners and moving it to commercial properties and multi-family homes. New businesses are providing good-paying jobs for residents, and new housing options are creating an expanded pool of skilled workers for local companies. Our strong financial position – the best of nearly any municipality in the state – means we can weather a market collapse or economic downturn better than most.

With a top-flight public school system, Norwalk is a desirable place for young families. With generous tax relief credits, Norwalk is a great place for seniors. With further investments to our police and firefighters, Norwalk is a safe place for everyone. I want a new college graduate to live and work in our community. I want a retired senior to stay in Norwalk to watch their grandchildren grow up. I want a young family to move here and create lifelong memories. I am proud of what we have achieved and what we continue to do. We are making sure Norwalk is a great place to live, work, and play for all people, of all ages, and all abilities. Norwalk is the best city in the state and it’s only getting better.


Milly October 6, 2019 at 6:49 am

If humongous ugly apart!ent buildings, too much traffic, only 4 yard pick ups a year, $150,000 spent for beach parking service, $80,000 spent to add a few parking spots downtown (since the parking lot was removed for another huge apartment – unfinished) and a sewer system that needs to be worked on constantly to handle all this waste, extra garbage. Turning Sono into a traffic nightmare and the mall is not even open yet. Norwalk is ruined.

Alice October 6, 2019 at 7:44 am

His comment is garbage! Norwalk’s “charm” is GONE! Replaced by cold, uninviting buildings, loss of bus routes,
loss of small businesses etc.

Robert October 6, 2019 at 8:24 am

I believe the mayor is correct. Norwalk’s charm will always be here as long as we remain Charming.

Al Bore October 6, 2019 at 8:43 am

Alice you took the words right out of my mouth and more big apartment buildings and the mammoth walk bridge yet to come. We are now a big city with all the problems of a big city. Drive around Norwalk you will see but be sure to allow extra time you will need it, lot’s of traffic. Driving in Norwalk you take your life into your own hands and they are suggesting bike riding in Norwalk, CRAZY. By the way the value of my house decreases every year so I will never be able to sell it just to break even. Norwalk is not the Norwalk I grew up in and it is not a better place today for sure. Neighborhood charm was replaced by neighborhood traffic with car and truck cut through and poor zoning laws that don’t protect our neighborhoods.

Jason Milligan October 6, 2019 at 8:55 am

Born on third and tell everyone you hit a triple.

Norwalk happens to have a charming historical past.

It happens to be located on the coast surrounded by some of the richest towns in the world.

Norwalk’s population growth can be almost entirely contributed to inviting poor undocumented unaccompanied folks here. The consequences of this has not fully been realized.

The grand list didn’t really grow. The appraisal company waved their wand and said certain properties are suddenly now worth more. 400 of these property owners including me are challenging the new magical values in court.

I wonder if it should be considered sneaky or smart that you jammed up the commercial property owners knowing that the many appeals won’t be settled until after the election.

This comment stood out as the most audacious, “I remember prime lots of vacant land becoming overgrown and undeveloped”

Are you referring to places like 95/7 before the mall and POKO? Places that the administration seized property and shuttered viable businesses only to leave a vacant wasteland for years. You should not try to take credit. They were doing fine before the government interference.

Nowalk does OKAY despite bad rules, and bad leadership.

Many of the flashy “successes” are sugar highs or built on shaky foundations. Most big development in Norwalk are very government heavy questionable uses of taxpayer money that have yet to be proven, ie POKO, Mall, Boondoggle bridge.

If Norwalk upgraded its rules and rolled out the welcome mat to businesses, if city hall started treating taxpayers like Stew Leonard’s treats their customers then Norwalk could be amazing!

Norwalk can be much much better, on it’s own not because of the proximity to its rich neighbors.

Cris Bowers October 6, 2019 at 9:00 am

Yes, there are still neighborhoods. We here in the East Norwalk and SONO neighborhoods look forward to years of delays and disruptions as the Rilling-backed boondoggle Walk Bridge replacement looms. A gigantic waste of money, an unneeded overbuilding on the border of two neighborhoods that will cause daily misery,test our desire to stay in Norwalk, and bring down our property values as the years of construction drag on.

And then there’s The Mall, which brings low-paying, part-time jobs instead of the well-paid ones that would enable our residents to stay in town (those big property-tax bills require a good salary). Rilling seems to imply that those low-pay retail jobs will get you into one of the new giant apartment houses. Ha. The Mall will deal the death-blow to how many small, neighborhood businesses (businesses that survive the Walk Bridge fiasco, that is)? It will make the West Avenue neighborhood a traffic nightmare, and turn our already nightmarish stretch of I-95 into a seething parking lot.

The Apartments only out-of-towners can afford to live in; transients with no stake in Norwalk – looming, neighborhood-destroying edifices that contribute yet more traffic–built by developers who got tax deals that beggar our city coffers.

And POKO, “the shame of Norwalk,” that has held the Wall Street neighborhood hostage for almost two decades and now plans to deprive that neighborhood of one of its best assets, the Garden Theater. You can paint all the angled-parking spots you want, but they won’t give us a downtown that will survive The Mall or attract anyone.

This is just a quick and incomplete overview of how Norwalk neighborhoods have suffered and will suffer with Rilling at the helm. If “charming” Norwalk neighborhoods are to survive, it won’t be thanks to Rilling, whose “vision” appears to be hell-bent on destroying them.

Time for a change! I’m voting for Lisa Brinton. It’s a matter of survival, Norwalk.

Piberman October 6, 2019 at 10:06 am

Vibrant cities attract homeowners and new business with good corporate jobs in growing downtown business centers, remain affordable to long time residents, keep City outlays below surrounding towns and have good schools. Cities in difficulty see an exodus of long time residents, declining home values and good jobs mostly in City government.

Westport with taxes unchanged for 5 years is a good example of a vibrant community.

Mike Mushak October 6, 2019 at 10:34 am

David Westmoreland and I agree with Mayor Rilling, and that’s why he is supported by us and by almost everyone we know who loves Norwalk as much as we do.

Since Mayor Rilling has been in office, he and his professional and hard-working staff have pulled off a miraculous trifecta, which is improved services, better management of the city, and lower taxes for most homeowners across the city. That trend will only get better if he is re-elected next month.

Our schools and athletic facilities are improving and we are renovating and expanding them after decades of neglect. This trend will only get better as our grand list grows and we can invest even more in improvements for future generations.

Norwalk is doing a great job of balancing growth with preservation of our traditionally affordable and historic neighborhoods. We know this first hand because we live and work in the diverse neighborhood of Golden Hill in the heart of South Norwalk, and have seen our neighborhood improve without forcing any residents or businesses out through gentrification. Norwalks diversity has always been its strength, and preserving that diversity is a top priority for the Rilling administration as the evidence shows.

The truth is, Norwalk is getting better while responding smartly to the market and to the huge nation-wide demographic shift that is seeing vibrant and walkable and denser neighborhoods in once-depressed cities become more attractive to both millennials and retirees.

That’s who is mostly filling up the new rental apartments as fast as they are built, adding economic activity and street life and new businesses and jobs to formerly dangerous and blighted downtown neighborhoods near transit connections. This trend is highlighted in this article:


Attracting millennials in denser neighborhoods also means fostering a healthy employment base for our corporations to draw from. The recent move by Diageo back to NYC, and a few years ago of GE to Boston, was not because of taxes as some want you to believe, but because of the lack of talent. Norwalk is fixing that by growing smartly and in areas near transit that guarantees our future sustainability and economic stability in a rapidly changing world.

There is an important trend as well in housing that Norwalk is well-positioned for. Many of the millennials in rental housing are future homebuyers of single family homes as they settle into raising families, and this trend will help stabilize the single-family housing market that has seen declines as demand has dropped.

The idea being pushed by some including Harry Rilling’s opponent, that rental housing is a burden on single-family homeowners, is pure nonsense. Rental housing units pay more in property taxes (which are included in the rent and paid for by landlords) per square foot than single family homes, and require much less services as they aren’t sprawled across thousands of acres of streets connected by miles of utilities that all require expensive upkeep to maintain.

There is another fallacy being pushed by some including the Republican-endorsed candidate opposing Harry Rilling: that temporary subsidies for some (but not all) of the rental buildings are costing single family homeowners more in taxes. Wrong. The new buildings always pay the original tax that property was paying, and new taxes are phased in over 7 years on average, reaching full payment in a short time. Combined with the economic activity ($50-75,000 per unit) and job growth and revived street life new residents in our downtown areas provide, this is a win-win for the city.

Harry Rilling has helped turn SoNo into the thriving destination it now is, with infill rental projects (which include the minimum 10% affordable units in most buildings), providing the crucial critical mass of residents that businesses need to thrive.

That critical mass is missing on Wall Street, which is why it is so important to complete the Wall Street Place (formerly known as POKO), which Harry Rilling is working on despite deliberate attempts to delay and stall this project, including by one of the biggest supporters of Harry Rilling’s Republican-endorsed candidate. No thanks!

In other words, we need to jumpstart progress on Wall Street with new and denser housing to provide the critical mass of residents every thriving downtown needs, just the same as Norwalk did in SoNo to great success.

That is why re-electing Harry Rilling at this crucial time in our city’s history is so important, to continue the positive momentum that has helped grow our grand list, bring more businesses and jobs, provide more housing choices for so many, helped revive our downtown areas, and helped rebuild our schools and athletic facilities and infrastructure after decades of neglect.

Lisa Brinton October 6, 2019 at 11:30 am

The mayor (or someone else) writes an opinion piece, devoid of financial facts. It reads like a ‘Tale of Two Cities.’ His world versus the one the rest of us live in. So long as we’re 85-90% reliant on regressive property taxes, the facts surrounding how we’ll fund city hall, without continued tax hikes remains to be seen.

The grand list, despite all the apartment growth and commercial revaluations (botched or not) isn’t keeping pace with spending. The 24% budget increase in six years compared to 12% grand list growth suggests we’re not keeping pace. Tens of millions have been squandered in land use, tax credits, lawsuits, bad negotiations and mismanagement.

My campaign push has been for smart growth versus crony photo ops. Norwalk lost a finance director, Redevelopment Director and chief assessor in the last six months. These sorts of personnel changes usually happen at the beginning of an administration, not six years in and not in such crucial economic areas as – land use/revenue/financial health. Norwalk has so much potential, but the mayor’s status quo of narrow special interests sucking equity out of the city must stop.

niz October 6, 2019 at 11:31 am

I moved here cause I liked how it was… not sure if all these changes are for the better, some OK, BUT INFRASTRUCTURE ISN’T MATCHING. it takes months for dr appt. no jobs for business professionals (restaurant & retail to put a meal on the table is an insulting response) school classrooms have way too many kids, yes what Alice and Al stated is true. I guess the important matters they point out in their comments fall on deaf ears.

Paul A. October 6, 2019 at 11:53 am

I grew up in Norwalk, graduated from McMahon (anyone who went there in the 70’s can be amazed at the campus now!) I moved away for work and moved back HOME as I got older. Personally I don’t think there has been enough growth population density wise to have active walking streets or a vibrant Wall St. We need people here to LIVE here, not just sleep here. I think the traffic is no different comparatively from when I was younger. Were in Fairfield County after all. No more horse and buggies Alice, Milly, and Al (so far). We need a 21st century train route so the bridge HAS to be replaced. There is now Wheels on demand (also maybe a bit to confusing for you folks too stuck in the 50s to navigate a phone app) but less big buses is less diesel belching.
Bikes are healthy in many ways and should be encouraged.
Regarding the apartments and density concept, years ago had the same people not been complaining to Moccia, Knopp, Esposito, even going back to Collins, O’Connor and Cave about losing “charm” maybe the Conn Ave, Westport Ave, and Main Ave corridors would not have sprawled with strip stores which defeated both downtown’s of Norwalk. Where were the charmers then? Doesn’t matter really as we are where we are. A magnificent 21st century shopping center/meeting place about to open on long vacant land! This is truly exciting and should warm the hearts of old timers who fought against a downtown parking garage so hard our first “mall” ended up with a flagship Pathmark store! Can you imagine. Then they build the garage downtown.
Calf Pasture, Shady, Cranbury and Vets parks are vastly improved and are all quite charming. How about the charming rooftop cafe at the new Sono hotel? Wall St Theatre, Waypoint district and the aquarium are all charming too. I won’t go on but the list is long.
A state concept for alleviating the exit 16 East Ave mess should be embraced rather than reminiscing about lost charm.
My recent residential reval was lower thanks to businesses now paying their share. After all some businesses use many more of our city services than residents. I own a small business that is thriving based in Norwalk. I don’t mind this place. I kinda like it.
Not cheerleading here because it wasn’t just Mayor Rilling. It was a team effort from public and private sectors for years to bring us here. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Tysen Canevari October 6, 2019 at 11:57 am

Bravo on that wonderful piece written by some Public Relations Specialist somewhere. I am not discounting the mayors intelligence but it was definitely written by a professional. Its a shame what politics does to good people. What he misses is that those of us that have lived here all our life do so because we love Norwalk for what it has been and what it offers. We dont live here to be another major city along the northeast corridor. The story claims that the schools are great. Well we have 300 plus spanish speaking kids waiting for a free physical at the health department to get in. Who pays for that? What does that do for the wonderful teachers trying to teach in Norwalk? How about all the illegal businesses running out of peoples homes around Norwalk. John Hayducky recieves 30 or so complaints a week in zoning he told me. How can he handle that? All these illegal shops in neighborhoods effect the quality of life. Because I own a legit business i received my property declaration in the mail the other day. Do these fake companies get one as well? I doubt it. Why dont we focus on real life issues to our town instead of where the next apartment building will go? How is it a positive to us that we have to pay to park our car where ever we go in Norwalk? Somebody is making some loot off that. Those rent a cops drive around in brand new trucks! Spare us the crap about how great Norwalk is becoming and focus on maintaining its integrity…

Paul Lanning October 6, 2019 at 4:30 pm

I disagree with Mike Mushak, but find it noteworthy that he confronts details ignored in the Mayor’s essay.

carol October 6, 2019 at 8:32 pm

Mayor and mike,there is a saying there are none so blind that will not see. norwalk is a disaster waiting to happen and much has all ready happened.

Andrew October 6, 2019 at 9:26 pm

improved services, better management of the city, and lower taxes for most homeowners across the city.

That still cracks me up. Keep the jokes up please.

molly h moseley October 6, 2019 at 9:44 pm

My son was recently hired for a position in customer service at Nordstrom, in the SoNo Collection. He has been in training the last few weeks, and is loving his job. He is very excited about their upcoming opening next week. I attended a special “For Friends and Family” event there yesterday. No discounts. Just an opportunity to see the store ahead of its official opening next week. The energy was palpable. I wish the store and all of its new employees all the best!

Joe D October 6, 2019 at 10:19 pm

Harry has destroyed Norwalk. Nobody retires here, young workers can’t afford houses and are crammed into apartment complexes. Go see how many 25 year olds you can find that own a nice house in Norwalk with a backyard with privacy.. I’ll wait. My father had three kids by the age of 22 and built his own house, good luck trying to work with zoning to build your own house in norwalk.. you can’t

Mary Hadalamb October 7, 2019 at 9:20 am

All I can say is that I’m so glad I moved away. Sold our house for a $35,000 LOSS – but we got out. It’s sad – the Norwalk I moved to was wonderful. I can’t understand why the city doesn’t support the true gem of Norwalk – the golf course! So many great people VOLUNTEER to keep the course going, only to get shut down from the mayor and Common Council. I truly hope those who stay in Norwalk open their eyes and elect some good solid people – like Lisa Brinton and Carl Dickens. Good luck!

Mimi Chang October 7, 2019 at 10:20 am

Cheaply made fortress apartments, lacking in architectural detail, obscuring the landscape, are in no way synonymous with charm. There is nothing charming about how that honking mall robbed South Norwalk of its skyline view, and how it will bring copious amounts of traffic, pollution, etc. An appropriately scaled, ”maritime village” feel, open air mall, with a park encouraging walkability (what the residents voiced they wanted in meetings), would have been both doable and charming, but that would have required planning inclusive of public opinion and input. Too late now.

All this development passes through without “comprehensive” traffic studies conducted, and will create even more cut through and egregious traffic on narrow, antiquated road infrastructure, which this administration seems to have zero plan to reengineer in any timely way to accommodate the onslaught. Cart before the horse planning never works and is not charming; it is a huge disservice to existing Norwalk residents. No growth cap on more apartments in the POCD, even though Waypointe is not fully occupied? No foreseeable end in sight to apartment development? More “charming” apartments to come? Oh My!

If you are a fan of more, more, more “charming” overdevelopment, traffic congestion, overcrowded schools and quality of life diminishing by the minute, vote for Harry Rilling!

Growth properly planned is a good thing. Rapid growth improperly planned without a growth target/cap in place is not only excessive, irresponsible and financially wasteful for taxpayers, it is destroying quality of life for existing Norwalk residents at fever pitch. Time for a change, before this quality of life crisis worsens! Let’s hit pause this November!

Bill Nightingale October 7, 2019 at 12:54 pm

How about the leadership of Norwalk getting serious about forcing a solution to the rotting power plant, Manresa?

Maybe demand that the state pay for us to cut a deal with NRG to hand over the land (remediated) to Norwalk before allowing them to rebuild Walk Bridge? Even if Manresa has a ONE TIME cost of $50-100mm it would be a no brainer in the bigger scheme of $1bn bridges and $400mm yearly operating budgets.

Oh, and above all, abolish the ever failing Redevelopment Agency. Get the city out of the development business.

Now that would be a charm plus game changer.

Joe October 7, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Stamford just announced they’re hiring a firm to go after all the out-of- state car plate property TAX CHEATS…mostly NY.
Stam Advocate 10/5/2019

“In Connecticut, each municipality sets and collects its own property taxes for vehicles. But other states, including New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Florida, have no vehicle tax.” Stam Advocate 1/26/18

Our dopey Norwalk common council voted this down saying it would be an invasion of privacy …like our privacies aren’t already invaded twelve ways from Sunday…phones, voting records, google shots of our homes and residential records…

Incidentally, I just paid over $6 for a $3 dollar Whopper. That’s what Norwalk’s new confiscatory commercial tax policy brings along with less jobs and more robots.

M Murray October 7, 2019 at 5:29 pm

Not sure where property taxes went down??? Property I had in Norwalk continually went up. Moved to Darien. Pay about the same property tax for a larger house on a larger piece of land and half the property taxes on the same vehicles.

TRS October 7, 2019 at 7:02 pm

Rilling turned Norwalk into a sanctuary city. And let’s not even get into the “Mayor’s Summer Work for Youth Program.” White kids need not apply. (Just ask my son and daughter who each have over a 4.0 high school GPA)
Harry had turned Norwalk into Honduras.

Isabelle Hargrove October 7, 2019 at 9:13 pm

It is painfully obvious how out of touch Mayor Rilling is. I didn’t realize that city hall was such an ivory tower. I wonder how many doors he has knocked on this campaign season, probably too few.

This is what happens when someone is in the job too long, they start believing their own echo chamber.

I agree with Mayor Rilling, “Some might argue that change is bad, but I wholeheartedly disagree”. It is time for change, indeed…

Gypsy October 7, 2019 at 9:15 pm

Yeah, Mike, isn’t it great? Lisa is a terrific candidate with a strong, vibrant message who will SAVE Norwalk when she becomes mayor.
Too bad there aren’t any “anonymous endorsements” for you and Always-Out-Of-His-Depth Harry to brag about. Funny how that works, eh?

Isabelle Hargrove October 7, 2019 at 9:21 pm

One more comment. Let’s vote out of office ANYONE who uses or mentions the flood of 1955… Especially if they don’t bother googling the exact year and opt for “the flood of the 1950s”… It’s insulting by now…

Bob October 8, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Sadly, Lisa will lose because people like Mike Mushak just blindly vote “D” all the way up and down the ticket. It’s easy! No thinking involved!

Scott October 8, 2019 at 2:10 pm

As a citizen of Norwalk these are things I see impacting our quality of life, education, and pocket books…

Norwalk becoming a sanctuary city.

Opted not to eliminate illegal apartments, which house 2-3 families that are only equipped to house a single family.

Approximately 1 in 4 children in the school system now require ESL classes, which means we teach to the lowest common denominator.

A tax assessment that became a complete fiasco; over inflating many resident and commercial property values and requiring us to go through extra time and effort to refute those reevaluations. OMG, thanks for that one…NOT!

Local traffic in recent years has only gotten worse and depending on the area of the city is actually a nightmare. I don’t see any signs of improvement. Don’t tell me riding my bike is an option!

Yes, our taxes have gone up while the value of our home remains stagnant year over year.

Added multiple positions and an extra layer of bureaucracy within city hall, all with six figure salaries while the average Norwalk family struggles to make ends meet on a monthly basis.

Allowed Chinese hackers to steal ~$1 million from our city government. What the heck?! No system of check and balances to prevent something like that from happening.

We already know who we are voting for but are looking forward to the debate(s) between the mayor and his challenger to hear their takes on these issues.

Ann October 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Take a ride over to Lowe and Bouton Streets. How about the homeless living at the top of Lowe Street, that moved from the new condos being built by the train station. What is being done about all of the homes with illegal rooms, and ten to twelve cars parked in a driveway?

Peter October 8, 2019 at 5:33 pm

I’m relatively new to Norwalk, this will be my first Mayoral election. You’ll know who I won’t be voting for.

It’s clear Mayor Rilling did not author this opinion piece. Just a fluff contribution stating nothing. I hope we’re all smart enough to see that if you can’t provide success points or metrics you resort to this.

Mimi, Isabelle, Scott, thank you for making salient points. Finally, I find it difficult to vote for a Mayor who is aligned with someone like Mike Mushak. I feel like I’m stuck in a middle school chat room when I read these ramblings.

From the movie, ‘Miracle’, very fitting;
‘And you were meant to be here tonight.
This is your time.
Their time — is done. It’s over.’

Good luck Lisa, you have my vote

TRS October 8, 2019 at 8:10 pm

How about the houses with all the satellite dishes in South Norwalk? What’s being done about that? You CANNOT tell me there aren’t multi-families living in those cramped spaces, attending OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS on OUR DOLLAR.
I long for the days where Norwalk once (slightly) resembled New Canaan and other leafy suburbs, rather than currently resembling the ugly parts of Bridgeport.
Stamford is much classier than Norwalk now….with tons more to offer.

Al Bore October 8, 2019 at 8:22 pm

Vote to save Norwalk this election is not about democrats, republicans, or any party, it is about Norwalk and Norwalk has suffered under this administration. Time for change we need our city government to be transparent and balanced.

Tysen Canevari October 8, 2019 at 8:29 pm

I support Lisa. I am not anoymous. I am voting to keep in place some of the integrity in this city. Not only are there satelite dishes all over single family homes but what about all the contractor businesses all over town in residential zones

Mimi Chang October 8, 2019 at 9:30 pm

@Bob, I get your point about a good candidate losing because people routinely vote the party row. Hopefully, residents are doing their research this time around, and realize that this election Is not about party labels. If they vote party yet again, then this Rilling Administration and it’s rubber stamp Common Council will be flogging a dead horse for two more years. Can Norwalk afford that? Ms. Brinton is for nonpartisan leadership and is interested in policy over party politics.

The recent “Frustrated by Trump policies? (so are we)” flyer floating around that Rilling has endorsed to gather Democrat volunteers and door knockers is some fine piece of propaganda, conflating national with local politics to lure in vulnerable voters and disingenuously turn them against a fine Unaffiliated mayoral candidate. As a lifelong Unaffiliated voter, I’m offended by the divisiveness this flyer advertises to our community. If I am not a Democrat voting for Rilling, then this flyer suggests that I am a Trump supporter if Ms. Brinton has my vote. I do not appreciate being inaccurately labeled for voter solicitation. Is Mayor Rilling running against President Trump?! The flyer advertises it is time for change. Isn’t that what Ms. Brinton is offering?

Norwalk is home to a high percentage of Unaffiliated voters who hopefully are as steamed as I am about the divisive propaganda out there. They really can make the difference In this election if they vote for the candidate who does not see “party”, and wants to unify, not divide, Norwalk. Together, let’s change the narrative of Norwalk local politics this November. Voting in a smart, energetic nonpartisan mayor with a solid, comprehensive platform would buck the status quo and be something for Norwalk to be incredibly proud of! #ChangeMayor!

Mike Mushak October 8, 2019 at 11:10 pm

No Republicans or any of their endorsees including Lisa Brinton should be rewarded this November for standing behind the corrupt Russian-puppet president and defending him no matter how low he goes. The Republican Party will be paying for this for a long time.

92% of Republicans support Trump. Lisa has refused to denounce Trump or even say if he should be impeached, presumably to not offend her Trump-loving fans who adore her.

Enough said. Vote Democrat this November, for our country, and for our great city!

Paul Lanning October 9, 2019 at 12:44 am

Lisa is campaigning harder than any local candidate I’ve ever seen. The tireless energy she’s displaying as she races around town knocking on thousand of doors, holding court at grocery stores and burger joints, escorting reporters on a guided tour etc. contrasts sharply with the Mayor’s smug nonchalance.

She’ll blow him away in the debates.

Scott October 9, 2019 at 7:48 am

@Mike – this isn’t a referendum on Trump or a dialog on the condition of national politics in our country. This is about our city, addressing the issues that most concern its citizens and the election of our next mayor. I’m sorry you can’t separate the two.

marija bryant October 9, 2019 at 9:34 am

yes, all politics are local. But the underlying principles of the political party that the candidate represents are important. Simply put, I find the underlying values of the Republican party as it stands today are not the values that I can support. Immigrants – welcome or threat? Planned parenthood – support or dismantle? Clean water/clean air regulations – important or an impediment? Health care – for all or for profit? Climate change – real or a myth? Civil rights – for all or for some? See what I mean. All this rolls down into local actions. When you vote, think about what that candidate stands for – and who stands behind them.

Tysen Canevari October 9, 2019 at 10:39 am

Yes Marija. But, do you think Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi is worried about too many apartment buildings in Norwalk? I doubt it. Their job is to worry about the country as a whole. The mayors job is to worry about this wonderful town we call Norwalk. The town that is rapidly going down the drain with this administration. Abortion views have nothing to do with how many direct tv dishes are on a single family home. Clean air act has nothing at all to do with how overcrowded and burdened our Norwalk schools are. Whether it is Harry or Lisa we need someone that is interested in us Norwalkers!

Isabelle Hargrove October 9, 2019 at 11:19 am

This is a local election and Lisa Brinton is not a Republican, she is an unaffiliated voter who remained so even as the establishment was pressuring and threatening her to do otherwise. She never compromised her values.

We live in a 2-party system, especially in Norwalk. Balance is sorely needed as the one-party-super-majority is currently steamrolling over residents and robbing them of their voice. Lisa was smart enough to recognize the need for balance and engineered an alliance.

For the folks worried she is backed by the Republican party, fear not. The party has refused to give her and her campaign any funds or access to any campaign tools. When emails on campaign support are sent from our state party, she is excluded because she is not a Republican.

Lisa’s campaign team and her donor base is a refreshing mix of people from all party affiliations with two common denominators, a different vision for Norwalk’s future and enormous respect for Lisa Brinton. She has not disappointed, both with her plans and campaigning.

I respect Marija Bryant’s comments but I could not disagree with them more. I am not anti-immigrant because I don’t support chaos and open borders. I am not against women’s reproductive rights because I don’t believe planned parenthood should be funded by the government. I am not anti civil rights because I believe in religious freedom. I am not a climate denier because I don’t agree with the environmental policies the left supports which do little for the environment at great costs, while real potential progress is overlooked. I am not against providing health care to all because I don’t support “free-is-the-most-expensive-word-in-the-English-language” government takeovers.

There are always two sides to every story. I would encourage all sides to get to know the folks running for office in Norwalk instead of simply going with the highly politicized national narrative of good versus evil. As we all know, life is a lot more complex than that.

Milly October 9, 2019 at 11:29 am

Today (Oct 9) at 9am Jacobs Sewer Systems was once again at the bottom of Mill Hill with a truck – down the manhole unplugging the blocked sewer line because of Head Of the Harbor apartments. The infrastructure in Norwalk cannot handle all these huge apartment buildings. How much is this costing the city?

Lisa Brinton October 9, 2019 at 11:38 am

I’m surprised by Marija’s comment, if directed at me since she’s known me for years through CNNA. I’ve never made my campaign or any of my 15 years of Norwalk activism in education, land use or charter revision about the Democrat or Republican parties.

I HAVE made it about leadership, financial acumen and having a local government that represents the interests and needs of residents and local business – NOT cronies that exist in BOTH political parties, who put their own interests (usually financial) above the city’s.

City hall is an operations job. Period. Pave the roads, fund the schools, keep the sewers from flooding every time it rains, etc. That’s why 70% of our 30 largest US cities have non-partisan elections. Yes, there is a letter after names, but you vote person, not party line. Single party rule is killing ideas in this city – resulting in ‘group think’ and decreased quality of life.

Neither national or local R or D parties fully represent my values as a fiscally responsible, socially progressive woman – nor on matters that REALLY matter in Norwalk. Besides, national party affiliation is indistinguishable amongst Norwalk’s well known ‘cronies’ and people have started to get that.

As Connecticut struggles and the financial consequences trickle down to towns and cities – there needs to be push back with fresh ideas. That’s what I am proposing for Norwalk after listening to folks from all political leanings.

People forget, I supported this mayor when he promised to address land use and P&Z. Look where we are now. I agreed to help him with charter revision after he lost that bid because it failed to address critical governance issues.

Now, thousands of fortress apartment units later, a partially completed tax credited mall and an economically and environmentally disruptive Walk Bridge is what he’s saddled us with. When Norwalk leadership wastes and/or loses millions of dollars through lost grants, lawsuits, poor negotiations, fraud or just plain carelessness, it’s time to say enough – irrespective of party or who is in DC!

marija bryant October 9, 2019 at 11:44 am

Isabelle, I respect your position on these issues and know that you are a very reasonable, thoughtful person. I have never in my life been a partisan voter (think “yellow dog Democrat”). Unfortunately, the policies that are being enacted and supported by the current Republican party threaten what I see as the public good. Respectfully, we must agree to disagree on this.

TRS October 9, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Lisa isn’t about party…she’s about NORWALK.
Mushak can’t go more than one paragraph without mention Trump. That says all you need to know about him. He wants her to denounce our President? Is he serious?! Did you or Harry denounce Obama? Would you have denounced Bill Clinton when he was technically impeached?

Michael McGuire October 9, 2019 at 1:33 pm


Very well said. In fact I think candidates like Lisa will become more the norm as the bright light of exposure focuses in on both party’s’ “Party First” mentality – local or national.

Refreshingly Lisa stands apart from that dying breed.

Thanks to the unprecedented access provided by the new media to a very broad audience, the voice and common sense of the long-marginalized majority is being heard and felt.

The NoN comments section is just one example.

Drew Ablank October 9, 2019 at 1:57 pm

It comes across rather cavalier when one takes the approach of a painter and with one single stroke of the brush paints an entire group of people as – what, Stupid, ignorant, unmoral? and often worse I guess. There’s no longer dialogue it’s just shout down and insult whomever disagrees with your current position. There are some who do this tactfully and others who wouldn’t know what manners are – and that too is on display here in the comments section.

Another Opinion October 9, 2019 at 3:14 pm

One of the more salient points that mayoral candidate Lisa mentioned (from above comment), “The grand list, despite all the apartment growth and commercial revaluations (botched or not) isn’t keeping pace with spending. The 24% budget increase in six years compared to 12% grand list growth suggests we’re not keeping pace. Tens of millions have been squandered in land use, tax credits, lawsuits, bad negotiations and mismanagement.”

This is not a sustainable fiscal path and should awaken the voters. Also, I would hope the mayor could address this given the implications for much higher mill rates in the years to come. While this years mill rates remained fairly flat, last year’s 4% jump was unsettling.

Seve October 9, 2019 at 3:23 pm

So Marija Bryant doesn’t support the Republican policies that created trillions of dollars in stock market wealth and Improving the balance sheets of millions of hard-working citizens. Maybe you are upset with 7MM fewer people on food stamps, or the lowest unemployment rate in history. Are you bothered by the fact that more women, more African Americans, and more Latinos have good jobs than at any time in the history of the country? Or perhaps you disagree with the policies that have yielded the strongest overall wage growth seen since the great recession? I guess you see all of this as threatening the public good like allowing anyone in the world to traipse across our borders and then reward them with welfare.

I’d like to know if you think it was a good thing that the Democrat party dragged the country through a Russian collusion hoax for 2 years and now looks like they want to continue the madness with this Ukranian hoax when there no truth to it and in fact, they are covering for ther own misdeeds. Ask yourself, why aren’t they using the “Russian collusion” story as the basis for impeachment?

Paul Lanning October 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Among ALL the local candidates, Lisa alone puts forth a detailed coherent plan based on residents’ input.

Meanwhile, rather than advance an opposing platform, the Mayor simply offers his record. No final Grand List. No disclosure of the amount still in dispute.

She’ll steamroll him in the debate.

Mike Mushak October 9, 2019 at 5:49 pm

As I said, its astounding all the anonymous commenters supporting Lisa! They simply don’t want their identities known. This may be the time to re-open the anonymous commenter policies, no?

I find it funny that the anonymous personal attacks directed at me and allowed on this site have escalated, even though I am not running for mayor, Lisa is.

The signal has gone out obviously from the Lisa camp: attack Mike Mushak for demanding transparency and truth from Lisa! The more the trolls fire away, the more I’ll respond, lol.

Lisa, again, do you support the impeachment of Trump? Please answer!

Its the biggest issue affecting Norwalk right now, on climate change, women’s health, education funding, infrastructure and transportation funding, housing and food subsidies, race relations, healthcare, ballooning deficits, immigration, LGBTQ rights, environmental quality, alternative energy, voting rights, etc etc., ALL ISSUES AFFECTING EVERY NORWALKER!!!!

So stop with the nonsense that Trump and his failed and regressive policies have nothing to do with Norwalk. They have EVERYTHING to do with every one of us every day!

Lisa Brinton is most definitely not going to escape the Trump label, being solely supported by the Republican Party and no other party. She is not “cross-endorsed” by Republicans as she keeps claiming. She is SOLELY endorsed by the Republican Party, 92% of whom support Trump and his failed policies.

So Lisa, tell us how you feel about Trump and every single one of his policies that affect all of us every day here in Norwalk. We know where Mayor Rilling stands. Why then are yuo silent about Trump? Is it because your followers like the commenters above worship him?

Debora Goldstein October 9, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Paul Lanning has a point. There is only a platform posted on the website of one of our Mayoral candidates.

TRS October 9, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Lisa Vs. Dirty Harry in a debate. Stop the fight. It will be a mismatch of epic proportions. Sadly, the democrats will still blindly vote for the Democrat who promises them the word, why they still live in poverty in the bowels of satellite-blighted South Norwalk.

marija bryant October 9, 2019 at 8:04 pm

Having known Lisa through CNNA, I understand that she is sincere in her desire to right what she sees as the wrongs of the current administration. My concern goes deeper to question what happens when local issues that are rooted in classic liberal (small “l”) Democratic values (unions, say, or sanctuary cities) challenge classic conservative (small “c”) values. If Lisa shares the Democrats social values (which she seems to indicate that she does), I don;’t see how she could run as a Republican – given what the current Republican party appears to stand for.

Tysen Canevari October 9, 2019 at 11:45 pm

Marija, Lisa is an independent with the republican party giving her their endorsement. Not sure it means much though because other than Bryan Meek that party is a disaster.

Jeff October 10, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Those lower property taxes sure are great for most while they last. Just don’t talk about the 400 open lawsuits that will cost us a fortune to defend against, not to mention we will probably lose many. How much will that cost? Surely the city has attempted to measure the potential impact.

That mall sure it’s charming isn’t it? I already love sitting in charming traffic on West Ave and Route 1, it gives me time to admire the strip malls that will soon be either empty or replaced by more charming big box stores. Come tomorrow it will get even better.

Imagine how much more charming traffic we’ll get once Lemont puts in his tolls and pushes everyone to local streets. I wonder why his latest disapproval rating is lower than Malloy?

And nothing speaks charm like 100 unit apartment buildings built on the future ruins of theaters, it really bring the neighborhood together.

The reason that many of Lisa’s supporters choose to remain anonymous on this site is because of the very real risk of retaliation from government employees who passionately hate those that disagree with the status quo.

Didn’t Ellen teach us anything this weekend?

Jeff October 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Don’t you have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to deal with an angry Planning Commissioner? Something as minor as an improperly placed flower pot causing headaches?

That’s why many of us would prefer to remain anonymous.

Scott October 10, 2019 at 6:37 pm

@Scott Vetare – completely agree. Mike has assumed I am a different person multiple times just because I disagree with him. At various times he’s thought I’ve been Lisa, Bryan, Isabelle, etc. No, I’m Scott and I opt not to use my last name because if you’re not a Democrat and don’t adhere to Mr. Mushak’s ideology, there’s a good possibility you are going to be labeled and treated as a second class citizen.

As independents and conservatives, just because we don’t share the same thoughts or methods to reach a specific solution, doesn’t make us evil, but that is the broad generalizations made by individuals such as Mike.

Again, I say separate your hatred of Trump and think about the issues impacting Norwalk. I give you this analogy for those of you in the work force, who has a greater impact on your quality of life on the job…the CEO who live out of state or your immediate manager or shop supervisor or plant manager? It’s the latter. The same applies here. Our mayor has a much greater impact on your life than Trump does.

Paul Lanning October 10, 2019 at 8:23 pm

Several Unanswered Questions:

1. What percentage of the new Grand List is still in dispute?

2. Why would construction of the Wall Street affordable apartment house cost $800,000 per unit?

3. Why should Norwalk taxpayers subsidize ANY apartment construction?

4. Why doesn’t the NPD enforce traffic laws?

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