Paper shows Rilling registered as Democrat way back when

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Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling was registered as a Democrat in 1986, records show.

NORWALK, Conn. – Hard evidence has turned up regarding Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidate Harry Rilling’s past party affiliation, thanks to some detective work by Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells.

While some members of Norwalk’s Democratic Party have voiced doubt that Rilling is really one of them, Wells looked in a 1986 voting book and found Rilling’s name. The name has a “D” next to it.

Wells had gone down to the basement under his City Hall office about three weeks ago despite being pressed for time to look for Rilling’s voter registration card from the 1980s, but could not find it.

On Friday, he tried again.

“I had a spare moment today and decided to at least look at the earliest book we did have to see what it showed,” Wells said in an email. “The book is for the 1986 general election. Harry W. Rilling lived at 9½ Cannon St. at that time, in State Legislative District 138D. At that time the lists were prepared with a single letter code for party. Harry W. Rilling is clearly listed with a ‘D’ prior to his name meaning that he was registered as a Democrat at that time.”

Rilling said he was pleased that Wells found the evidence, although he hadn’t prodded the registrar to try again.

“I’ve been saying it all along,” he said. “Now you’ve seen proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Rilling said he has knocked on many doors and people realize that he did what he had to do when he changed from being a registered Democrat to being unaffiliated.

“I know people understand that when I got promoted to a higher level of police position I needed to remain neutral,” he said. “So I changed from Democrat to unaffiliated, and when I left the police department I changed from unaffiliated to Democrat. Most people I have spoken to say they understand that ‘you had to be neutral, we understand and accept it and you had to do the right thing.’ I don’t see how anybody can make an issue of it.”

The entire thing was overblown, he said. He agreed with a suggestion that the issue resembled the “birther” attacks on the president’s citizenship.

“It’s like Donald Trump trying to prove Barack Obama was not the president of the United States,” he said.

Small World moment: Although Rilling and Mayor Richard Moccia did not know each other then, their fates were already intertwining – their names appear on the same voter identification page, as Rilling lived on Cannon Street and Moccia lived on Carlin Street.

Wells pointed that out.

“You will also, by coincidence, see Richard Moccia listed on the same page, at 23 Carlin St., and that he has an ‘R’ in front of his name indicating that he was a Republican (just as you would assume),” he said.

Moccia and Rilling were .8 miles apart by vehicle, according to Google Maps.

“(I had) no idea who he was,” Rilling said.

A scan of the page showing the voter registration is attached below. The green highlighting indicates that a vote was cast by the voter in person, Wells said. Red highlighting indicates an absentee ballot.

“We still code the books that way to this day,” Wells said.

Rilling Voter Listing 1986


25 responses to “Paper shows Rilling registered as Democrat way back when”

  1. RU4REEL

    UHOH! Now since that nonsense is over (thank you Mr. Wells)you folks will have to come up with some other nonsense.
    Maybe you should ask for his birth certificate just in case!

  2. Tim T

    Please I beg you too, STOP IT!!!
    All one needs to do is look at Rilling’s time as police chief to find a reason not to vote for Rilling.

  3. Tim T

    Lets not make Rilling out to be some type of martyr that he wanted to remain neutral and became unaffiliated for the better good of Norwalk, as that is not the case. The reason is simple Rilling knew that being a consultant to the police department is an appointed position so he wanted to make sure if a Republican was in office he would not be kicked to the curb. In standard Rilling fashion Rilling is only concerned with Rilliing.
    NOITCE I used the word consultant and not chief as Rilling stated that’s what he was on this very site when responding to questions about his pension.. Maybe all these years that we thought we had a police chief we really didn’t. This could explain the out of control crime and the failures of the NPD as they never really had a chief aka a leader.

  4. M. Murray’s

    I think he was referring to the DROP plan. It was a program to save money for both the city and the employee. The employee officially retires and locks in his pension benefits. The city stops paying into the pension fund on behalf o the employee and the employee no longer increases his percentage of his salary. The employee is contracted to stay in his position for a defined period of time and the city delays having to pay new employee expenses for equipment and training, and does not have to pay benefits for a new employee. This is SIMILAR to when a company executive retires and continues on as a consultant. I think this was the point the Chief was trying to make.

  5. M. Murray’s

    In addition, the city withholds paying out the pension until the employee leaves the contracted position. The city makes money on both ends by charging the employee a management fee on that withheld money while making interest on the same money.

  6. Tim T

    M. Murray


    Definition of CONSULTANT
    1 one who consults another
    2 one who gives professional advice or services : EXPERT

    Definition of Chief of Police
    A Chief of Police (also known as Police Chief or sometimes shortened to just Chief) is the title typically given to the top official in the chain of command of a police department, particularly in North America


    As we can clearly see it’s 2 different jobs. So tell us M. Murray was your brother in blue a consultant as he said or a police chief as the citizens were led to believe. You can’t be both.

  7. EveT

    No surprise that Rilling’s “D” voter registration was eventually found. People who have lived here for 30-40 years and knew Harry way back then can attest that he was a Democrat. As police chief, Rilling knew that he needed to be able to work with all the people of Norwalk, not just the Democrats. Discontinuing one’s party affiliation in that situation is completely appropriate. What party is the current police chief registered under, anyway?

    Also: Definition of “troll”: someone who posts irrelevant, provocative comments to distract readers from the actual issue. If The Hour isn’t going to eliminate trolls, at least we can avoid feeding them.

  8. M. Murray’s

    He was a Police Chief under contract, and a damn good one.

  9. Tim T

    M. Murray’s
    So are you saying that he lied when he said he was a consultant? Also if he was the police chief as you say its your opinion that he was a damn good one, as many in Norwalk see it different. Actually the only ones I have seen that seem to think that he was damn good one are members of the NPD both retired and current and of course criminals as they never seem to get caught in Norwalk.

  10. M. Murray’s

    Ok Tim. It is obvious you don’t get it. The Consultant comment was meant to explain what the DROP program is based on. And most people in Norwalk realize that the crime rate in Norwalk is continually dropping. Those who have been here for years remember what it was like in the mid-80’s through the early 90’s. a lot worse back then with a lot more murders. Check the facts.

  11. Tim T

    M. Murray’s
    I have lived in Norwalk all my life and I can tell you that crime is much worse now than ever. Please do not quote the FBI crime stats as we have been down that road before and as we all know the stats are far far from accurate as the FBI themselves has stated. Clearly you have a bias view of the NPD due to you years with them. I have news for you in the real world they are looked at as a failure and a joke. I know some anonymous individuals will say otherwise in reply to this but I tend to believe that they also have their reasons for the support of a failed police department.
    THE LAST THING NORWALK NEEDS IS MORE RILLING. I as a life long democrat would vote for Moccia before Rilling.

  12. Tim T

    M. Murray’s
    Please note Rilling’s statement
    “My pension amount was frozen at my 2001 salary level and did not increase due to the fact I stayed on as a consultant” (NOTE IT DOES NOT SAY POLICE CHIEF)
    It’s here for anyone to read

  13. Norwalk Lifer

    It so refreshing to read this story, it tells me there are “so few issues” in Norwalk, we can focus on whether Harry Rilling has had a “D” or an “R” next to his name all his life.

    So glad “everything is okay”

    Norwalk Lifer

  14. RU4REEL

    @ Everyone,
    Do yourselves a favor, do not respond to anything an idiot says, just let them keep putting the foot in the mouth!

  15. NorwalkLifer

    @NancyonNorwalk, how can you write this story without including that Chief Rilling attended Dick Moccia’s nomination in 2011 and was quoted in the Hour:

    “Congratulations on your anticipated nomination,” Rilling told Moccia. “Thank you for being a great boss.”

  16. YourDaddy

    For a police chief to renounce his beliefs (political or otherwise) show a lack of backbone and commitment to those beliefs. Chief Rilling didn’t have to leave the Democratic Party to be an effective chief. There are plenty of chiefs in Connecticut that are R’s or D’s. Will “Mayor Rilling” become the next person in a growing line of officials elected as a D only to jettison his party affiliation after he’s in office? He’s already done it once for the sake of expediency. The Democrats complain about Council members who change to U or caucus with the Republicans, ask candidates to sign Loyalty Oaths, then they support THIS guy at the top of the ticket? Maybe if the Republicans sweep in November the Democrats will think of getting their house in order.

  17. M Allen

    Its not about expediency. Many police officers, perhaps moreso in the past, chose independent or unaffiliated status. Especially those in more politicized positions like chief and upper management. Don’t blame the officers who take this route. They need to be able to withstand changes in political leadership and work well with whomever is put in office by fickle voters. Perhaps it happens less often today, but in times past, advertising your political affiliation was reason enough for losing your job upon a change in political leadership. Try advertising yourself as a Republican police chief in Chicago or Philadelphia. See how long that guy stays in his position.

  18. NorwalkLifer

    Even if you put the multiple party changes aside, look at the guy’s quote!! He says whatever is in his self-interest at the time. His contract negotiation was happening around the same time so he brown-nosed to the mayor. Now he is pretending to be a huge critic. Speaking out of both sides of your mouth is the last kind of quality you want to see in a politician.

  19. Tony Ditrio

    While not exactly enamored with the local Democratic Party, I remained a registered Democrat because that is where my heart is. I too am a public figure but we have the right and duty to express our positions. In a democratic country no one should be afraid to express there political beliefs. Then to compare this to the denial of President Obama’s citizenship is even more unbelievable. I have no problem with Mr. Rilling becoming a new Democrat but I do have a problem with his justification.

    (Editor’s note: Tony Ditrio is the Norwalk Association of School Administrators President, principal of Kendall Elementary School and treasurer of Matt Miklave’s mayoral campaign.)

  20. NorwalkLifer

    @NancyonNorwalk, why no response to the comment refuting Harry Rilling’s claim of “neutrality”? If Rilling was so concerned with remaining neutral like he claims he was, why did he go to the Republican Convention and publicly support Moccia? Did he go to the Democratic Convention as well and tell Andy he was doing a great job? There’s nothing neutral about what he did. It was 100% expedience. This guy just says what he needs to when he needs to.

    1. Mark Chapman

      We are not here to defend anyone unless facts are misstated. This is not that case. This issue has been addressed in the past on this news site by others.

      Speaking for myself, I have congratulated bosses I don’t like, I have wished them happy birthday, I even told one who I particularly disliked that I thought he was brilliant and would be perfect for a major metropolitan newspaper — but that I disagreed with his direction for a mid-sized local paper. That was right after he told me I narrowly avoided a layoff because of support from my direct boss, but I was on his list for expressing my disagreements.

      Congratulating someone, especially your bosses, and thanking them for being a good boss even if you have reservations, is something people do in a civil, polite society. FYI, in researching candidate backgrounds, histories, and such, I came across instances of Mayor Moccia saying very positive things about Rilling. No one — including us — has trotted those out because they were in a different context. Rilling or his aides may well dig them up if he gets past Sept. 10. My guess is the mayor and his people will be singing a different tune if the two face off this fall. The RTC head has already telegraphed that in published articles.

  21. NorwalkLifer

    @Mark Chapman, thank you for responding. The question at hand is not whether it’s appropriate to thank your boss, but is if Rilling can claim that he unregistered to be “neutral” and if he was neutral at all as Chief. There is absolutely nothing neutral about publicly complimenting a mayoral candidate at his campaign convention and avoiding the other candidates convention. You’re so generous to this guy it’s unbelievable. When people asked about Ernie Newton, you immediately posted links. Even though it’s been clear from the start Vinny had nothing to do with any impropriety. It’s biased journalism. Why are you tough on Vinny but easy on Harry? Why did you research Vinny’s background yet not do any in depth reporting on Harry’s background? Like how he gave Lt Cummings a full pension after calling him the worst thing to happen in the department’s history. October 2009, check the police commission minutes. Yes, Norwalkers pay for that guys pension thanks to Moccia and Rilling – AFTER Rilling said he was so happy it was dealt with again and gone.
    Have you asked Harry who he voted for in 2011? That might be an easy way to get to the bottom of who he supported in 2011. Stop giving this guy a free ride. These are the buddy buddy relationships that turn off Norwalk voters.

  22. NorwalkLifer

    And really Mark… you are really trying to say that Harry showing up with a group of police officers to Moccia’s convention in 2011 wasn’t a calculated show of political support? C’mon.

    1. Mark Chapman

      I apologize. I made the mistake of attempting to explain something to a highly partisan commenter in a non-partisan fashion. It is a mistake I try to avoid, because there is no explaining anything to someone devoted to a cause. You are, from your post, a loyal Vinny Mangiacopra fan, and I applaud your loyalty and your attempts to discredit all who might say anything that might cast your candidate in a negative light, or who might say or write something that does NOT cast a pall over the competition. It is the nature of the beast. We attempt to report news and not belabor points that have been reported ad nauseum. It’s all easily found by searching the site.

  23. NorwalkLifer

    I’m just talking about the double standard. When a commenter asks about Ernie Newtown, you posts links to it. Has that not been reported on ad nauseam? Last I checked, Vinny has answered to that issue directly on multiple occasions. I have yet to see Harry asked about why he was at the GOP convention and answer it directly. Even if he has answered to the question, it still contradicts his claim of neutrality as police chief and should be mentioned in stories.

    Here’s Harry’s quote: “Most people I have spoken to say they understand that ‘you had to be neutral, we understand and accept it and you had to do the right thing.’ I don’t see how anybody can make an issue of it.”

    Perhaps that would be a good time to write: “The reason people make an issue of it is because of Harry’s attendance at Moccia’s convention in 2011. He did not attend Andy Garfunkel’s.”
    Oh well, keep giving him a free ride. The South Norwalk canvassing piece was the biggest piece of fluff in history. How about some hard reporting on his record as chief? His failure to address the gang problem? The pension he gave Cummings?

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