Re-elect Rilling, sustain the momentum

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

Norwalk is doing a great job of balancing growth with preservation of our traditionally affordable and historic neighborhoods. We know this firsthand because we live and work in the diverse neighborhood of Golden Hill in South Norwalk, and have seen our historic neighborhood improve greatly over the past six years without forcing any residents or businesses out through gentrification. 

Norwalk’s diversity has always been our strength, and preserving that diversity while simultaneously increasing opportunities for everyone is a top priority for the Rilling administration as all 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 post-industrial cities become more attractive to millennials, empty-nesters, and retirees. That’s who is mostly filling up the new rental apartments as fast as they are built, helping alleviate our severe housing shortage while adding economic activity and street life and new businesses and jobs to formerly empty, dangerous, and blighted downtown neighborhoods near transit connections.

Attracting millennials in denser neighborhoods also means fostering a healthy employment base for our established corporations and startups to draw from. The recent move by Diageo back to New York City, and a few years ago of GE to Boston, was not because of taxes, but in their own words it was because of the lack of talent in our area. Norwalk is helping to fix that by growing smartly and in areas near transit that guarantees our future sustainability and economic success in our 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 overall demand for suburban houses has dropped nationwide.

The idea being pushed by some that rental housing is a burden on single-family homeowners is 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 paved streets connected by hundreds of miles of utilities that all require expensive upkeep to maintain.  And we are growing at a steady controlled pace of about 6% this decade, much slower than most other decades over the past century when Norwalk’s growth rate averaged close to 20% per decade. So our growth is not “ exploding” as some believe, but is just enough to allow businesses to expand and revive our downtown areas near transit hubs that are now enjoying an urban renaissance just like all smart cities across the nation are.

Re-electing Harry Rilling will continue the positive and sustainable momentum that has helped grow our grand list, bring more businesses and jobs, provide more housing choices for so many, revive our downtown areas, and rebuild our schools, athletic facilities, and infrastructure after decades of neglect.

That is why Harry Rilling and the entire Democratic ticket are strongly supported by us, and by almost everyone we know across the city who love and care about the future of Norwalk as much as we do!


Michael Mushak and David Westmoreland

(Mr. Mushak serves on the Norwalk Planning Commission, and Mr. Westmoreland serves on the Redevelopment Agency Commission and Second Taxing District Commission.  The stated views in this letter are their own.) 


15 responses to “Re-elect Rilling, sustain the momentum”

  1. John ONeill

    One Question: What have Mayor Rilling and other elected officials done to offset the dramatic cost increases of ELL programs over past 10 years? We can all use an education on this. My calculations are $ 225+ Million spent on these students over last 10 years. Next 10 will be much greater. Is there anything that’s been done to cushion the impact on Norwalk Taxpayers. Again, I am 100% for supporting these kids. I would just like to know background on financing.

  2. The letter writers seem to live in a strange alternate universe where “sustain the momentum” is a Rilling campaign slogan. For taxpayers and small business owners, it’s more of a dreadful premonition.

    When you’re on a bus being driven off a cliff, the last thing you want is for the bus driver to keep going. If anything, you are kicking yourself for not choosing a saner bus driver.


  3. Residente

    Renters pay more per square foot, but in many cases less in total. Meanwhile the cost to educate a student regardless home type remains the same. In this scenario additional burden falls on homeowners.

  4. Residente

    Taxes went up in our district, the city CFO resigned in the middle of budgeting, tax assessors were outed in the aftermath of the revaluation followed by hundreds of lawsuits filed against the city.

  5. Jason Milligan


    You make a claim that, “lower taxes for most homeowners across the city”?

    Most homeowners taxes went down?

    That statement seems hard to believe.
    Could you please provide the backup?

    One reason that residential property taxes did not skyrocket is because a huge tax burden was artificially to commercial owners. There are 400 tax appeals for approximately a billion dollars worth of property.

    The benefit to this admin is adjustments due to losing tax appeals will happen long after this election.

    What ever tax amount that was posted on your bill will likely go up after all the appeals run their course.

  6. Peter

    add the decrease in the of quality of life in Norwalk under Rillings;

    Ultimately, Norwalk could not match the financial incentives that New York offered to Diageo. “We were kind of left out in the cold,” he said.

    “That’s the game that people play,” Rilling said. “They’re looking for the best deals.”

  7. Isabelle Hargrove

    You know what they say, the devil is in the details.

    This is all wonderful grandstanding but with little resemblance to what the Rilling administration has executed.

    Miss #1 What historic preservation did the Mall, fortresses apartments and the armageddon bridge Rilling enthusiastically support bring Norwalk?

    Miss $2 Apartment complexes costing between $600K and $800K to build are not affordable. Neither are $2,000 to $3,000 rents.

    Miss #3 Rentals do not bring more revenue to the city than homeowners when they receive huge tax breaks or are not reported to the city.

    Miss #4 Density should be achieved with a blend of renters, homeowners, businesses, educational venues. Building a soulless bedroom community of commuters is not well-planned growth. Millenials commuting out of Norwalk should not be all we care about. We need a mayor who can walk and chew gum at the same time!

    Miss #5 Regarding the red herring of comparing growth this decade to previous ones. Norwalk is only so many acres. When the glass is full, one more drop is too many.

    This is a very exciting election. Norwalkers are choosing what future they want for our city. Lisa Brinton has run a campaign of ideas, financial literacy about Norwalk, and a detailed plan and vision. I welcome this exchange of ideas and I am glad to see Mr. Mushak putting forward his argument in support of the mayor instead of the usual hateful rants.

  8. Tysen Canevari

    Talk about kissing up to your boss? Mr Mushak uses the same old line about taxes. What about the increased traffic on the roads? How many times a day does the toilet get flushed in these big old apartment buildings? Does that not put an increased burden on the sewage plant? The list goes on. Wait a few years and Nordstrom and Bloomingdales will be replaced by Dollar General and Spirit Halloween stores.

  9. Joe D

    Tick tock goes the clock. Cannot wait until Nov 5th. Time for change!

  10. It is characteristic of many if not most citizens to blame state and local administrations for their relative poverty. The purchasing power of the average citizen has declined because money under “conservative” administrations has been pumped to the wealthy and the military at the expense of the middle class and poor. The only way to cure this problem is to restore reasonable tax rates on the rich and large corporations to relieve taxes on the struggling majority. It’s called income redistribution and unsurprisingly has been labeled socialism by those who benefit from the existing situation, and who control the federal government. Given this situation, local and state governments are in a no-win situation, having to provide increased support for the artificially poor while having to hold taxes down to support everyone who is not rich. If you think either candidate can solve the underlying problems you are living in a dream world. The goal is to stay afloat until we redress the inequality of income and wealth.

  11. John ONeill

    @Gordon: It might be a good start if our local officials are able to articulate the cost of educating ELL students. $35,000,000 this year? $225,000,000+ over last 10 years? That’s serious redistribution, don’t you think?

  12. John Miller

    @John O’Neill: For people like Gordon, it always comes down to tax the rich and the corporations and wealth redistribution. The problem is that the rich folks and corporations pick up and leave and folks like you and me are stuck picking up the $250,000,000 tab for the ELL students.

  13. John ONeill

    @Gordon – Any thoughts about what Norwalk residents are paying on ELL program? Our elected leaders seem to want to bury the issue rather than widen the coversation. Don’t you think we should sound the alarm so Norwalk gets relief from State/Fed? These kids need our support, but do we need to pick up the entire tab? I’m interested in Ed Camacho view on this also..

  14. Jo

    I like and appreciate Isabelle’s comment about this election upping residents’ interest in financial (and fiscal) literacy. I don’t know whose taxes have gone down (aside from the mayor). I pay more for my car (despite the fact that it’s a depreciating asset). I, and all of my neighbors, have seen our property taxes go up. Despite the fact that the one couple who put their house on the market this year had to reduce the price by $50k after it sat with no offers for six months.
    I have no idea what fantasy world Mike and David speak of here.

  15. Non Partisan

    @Mushack, @ Tully

    I beg to differ with both of you

    Progressive policies of our city and state are destroying Norwalk in particular and ct in general.
    It takes balance and diversity to thrive.

    Sanctuary city state policies invite a disproportionate number of poor and under educated to be paid by corporate America, the middle class, and wealthy. Except – the wealthy are fleeing, the middle class are stuck with a growing tax bill

    Real estate values at the top end are down 30-50% off 2007 highs.

    Our city has lax enforcement of zoning causing more decline in values.

    Our city continues to build more subsidized housing and is now way beyond state mandates. This is being paid for with real estate tax subsidies and pilot programs.

    Soon our schools will need to decide which sport/ music/ art/ enrichment programs will need to be cut further to pay for ELL and SPED.

    Good job boys.

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