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Riddle wins Republican endorsement to challenge Rilling for Mayor

Republican Norwalk Mayoral candidate Jonathan Riddle addresses the Republican Town Committee on Tuesday, shortly after being endorsed.

The 2021 Election is Nov. 2.

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Republicans have endorsed Jonathan Riddle as their candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling. Riddle had no competition for the slot.

“My administration will focus on education, infrastructure, lowering taxes, and fixing our massive traffic problem caused by Harry’s over development. Additionally, I will call for term limits for the mayor, which will limit someone serving as mayor to eight years,” Riddle said.

Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story

Rilling is seeking his fifth two-year term.

“When someone is in office for long periods of time, like Harry has, special interest groups, stale ideas and corruption soon follow,” Riddle said. “My opponent is by all measures a good man who at times has done some good for Norwalk. But after eight long years, that time has passed.”

Republican Norwalk Mayoral candidate Jonathan Riddle watches the Republican Town Committee meeting proceedings Tuesday, shortly before being endorsed.

Riddle, who grew up in Westchester County, N.Y. and lives in South Norwalk, challenged U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) last year, winning 36.3% of the vote.

“Jonathan has been in our town now for several years,” District D Chairman John Romano said. “He’s got an extremely strong background in finance, (he ran against Himes), he’s got himself through it unscathed, kind of, because he’s willing to get back into the fray.”

The RTC website offers this information about Riddle:

“Jonathan started his career with BNY Mellon in Greenwich working with high-net-worth families. Shortly thereafter, he left BNY Mellon for Bessemer Trust, where he served as a client advisor for four years in New York City. Jonathan then served as a Vice President and lead advisor for the Private Bank of Bank of America in Westport, Connecticut for two years before joining Altium Wealth Management in January 2020. Jonathan is currently a Director for Altium, a Financial Consulting and Wealth Management RIA firm in Purchase, New York.”

Republican Norwalk Mayoral candidate Jonathan Riddle addresses the Republican Town Committee on Tuesday, shortly after being endorsed.

Riddle received applause from the RTC on Tuesday when he promised not to allow critical race theory to be taught in Norwalk Public Schools.

He said Rilling thinks the school system is great but it’s ranked 141 out of 172 Connecticut districts and, “We’re surrounded by four out of the top five school districts in the state. We are failing our students and that means we’re failing Norwalk.”

He would ensure that every classroom has an air conditioner and would champion a new school for South Norwalk.

Republicans endorsed no Board of Education candidates, although there are five openings this year, all for at large seats.

Riddle told NancyOnNorwalk that he’d work with both sides of the aisle.

“We need to work hand in hand with our leaders on the other side of the table in order to improve the quality of life and education in Norwalk,” he said.

Like other Republicans, Riddle blamed Rilling for increased traffic in town. It’s “far worse” than he’s seen it in six years as a resident, he said, blaming “over development.”

It’s “it’s certainly working with both sides of the aisle. We need to work hand in hand with our leaders on the other side of the table in order to improve the quality of life and education in Norwalk,” he said.

He also promised to stand against any move to create a civilian review board for Norwalk Police. He’d take a fresh look at Wall Street and Manresa Island.

He said, “Let’s take back this great city and eliminate the partisan stranglehold that is controlling every decision without our input.”

20 comments

Cathy Travers July 21, 2021 at 8:02 am

Term limits ..fresh blood fresh ideas will be good for this city ..don’t care. what party they identify
With. We’ve become over built over populated and cronyism has set in..

piberman July 21, 2021 at 10:50 am

How do we encourage new firms and good jobs into our transient commuter City rather than developers and renters putting new pressures on property owners ?

How do we encourage our BOE to have most City students meet CT Edu Dept standards in math and science ? We pay comparable salaries to surrounding towns but fall way behind on our student’s achievements.

Tysen Canevari July 21, 2021 at 1:43 pm

Good luck Mr Riddle. It is a breath of fresh air to see someone take a stand againt the Evil empire. I am curious to see if the Cingari family from shop rite with donate thousands to your side of the race as well. SHould we expect another Shop Rite soon in Norwalk?

Bob Giolitto July 21, 2021 at 2:07 pm

Just what we need in a middle class diverse city: someone who serves the top 1% and profits at the expense of folks like the majority of Norwalk residents. Applause for not allowing “critical race theory to be taught in Norwalk schools?” RTC and Mr. Riddle, teaching Critical Race Theory is teaching the truth, despite the myths created about it by the far right. Leave it out of the curriculum and our kids will not learn our full history, warts and all, just that of the “winners.” Yes we’re surrounded by 4 of the top 5 school districts in the state, but Mr. Riddle fails to mention that we are the top rated city. My kids, successful and good citizens, received a terrific education from the Norwalk School system, in large part because of the diversity of students and faculty in their schools. Wake up Mr. Riddle and RTC, progress is coming.

Jason Milligan July 21, 2021 at 2:34 pm

Taking another look at Wall Street would be great.

The blight enforcement officer just informed me today that the blight fine assessment for POKO stands at $91,500.00 through the end of June of this year.

Holding Citibank accountable for active blight that negatively impacts the area would be a great start.

Harry & his law department seem to be afraid and enamored but Citibank meanwhile Citibank could care less about our city!

CT. V July 21, 2021 at 3:31 pm

While I agree the Norwalk Dems need real opposition and to be held accountable in the way they’re running the city, the sight of 20 white people in a majority-minority town cheering on the dismissal of “critical race theory” in the schools (which is code for anything to do with the acknowledgement of past or present racism in the US) doesn’t give me much confidence that this is a group that can be that opposition.

Kevin S. July 21, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Congratulations Harry on a fifth term!

…and based on Riddles platform, good luck winning any Council seats and you can forget about the BOE.

I agree that its Harry’s time to go and that more balance is needed on the Council and BOE but you need a candidate with more than a pulse and an ego.

Barbara Meyer-Mitchell July 21, 2021 at 4:55 pm

How does this mayoral candidate think he will impact Curriculum, as that is the sole duty of the Board of Education? Why would any educated person not want American History to be taught in our schools? What a bizarre plank to emphasize. Surely someone at the top of a ticket that wants to impact the schools would ensure his ticket even *had* candidates for the BOE….

Tysen Canevari July 21, 2021 at 6:55 pm

@Jason Maybe Harry can use some of the money donated from all the devolopers he receives to pay the blight fine for Citibank. Do something with downtown Mr Mayor or get out of the way and let Mr Milligan and gang run with it. Just like Mayor Esposito you have been in office too long. The same old story gets old after awhile.

nora king July 21, 2021 at 10:05 pm

Norwalk needs change. I don’t know Mr. Riddle but am eager to hear more about what he stands for and what he can do for parents, taxpayers and citizens. We have over development, schools that are failing our kids, no air conditioning in six of our schools, our sidewalks are falling apart, our ball parks are filled with weeds and neglect. Parents are not listened too and way to many things are taking place behind closed doors. We should not be voting based on political party but for ideas that will further our city and our kids to thrive. I am excited that so many new people are running.

piberman July 21, 2021 at 11:03 pm

Election time is always helpful to appreciate we have a weak Mayor strong Council City government. So those seeking major change in how our City operates need put more attention on the Council which does the heavy lifting. And that major changes oft require actions by our major appointed Committees with members jointly appointed by the Mayor and Council. Looking back 3 or 4 decades finds the City rather resistant to major change. Arguably the substantial increase in apartment buildings Downtown has been our major change in recent decades. Together with the new Mall.

Unlike CT’s other major cities Norwalk does not have a significant Downtown Business Center with Corporate Office Buildings. Although many decades ago the Merrit 7 complex was built.
In order to change our commuter City orientation into a conventional City we would need encourage Corporate Office Buildings downtown to complement recent apartment buildings.
So far that vision hasn’t generated much enthusiasm. So its hard to imagine major changes in Norwalk in the foreseeable future.

David Muccigrosso July 22, 2021 at 8:31 am

@Cathy

Do you even LIVE in SoNo? Downtown/Wall Street corridor, maybe? I bet you don’t. Maybe don’t comment on places you don’t actually live. Is Manhattan overbuilt and overpopulated, too? I’m sure you still enjoy your occasional trip there, though, don’t you?

FYI SoNo is doing fine, we just need to stop building luxury condos and work more with what we have – rehab old buildings, pull eminent domain on all the vacant lots and absentee landlords, and loosen up the ABSURD permitting that strangles out our businesses.

Also, term limits are the worst idea that has ever entered democracy.

Ranked Choice would be more than enough to help take down Harry and the political machine.

Term limits RESTRICT the voters’ choices. Whatever reforms we adopt should go the opposite direction, and OPEN more choices to the voters. Ranked Choice fits that bill.

John O'Neill July 22, 2021 at 10:29 am

To those who think the Norwalk Public School system is heading in the right direction just keep voting the same way you’ve been voting. Personally, I think the school system is out of control and needs pragmatic thinkers. In my opinion most teachers would agree. I predict this will be made more evident as this upcoming school year commences. The money dance will start and creative excuses will be invented for the citizenry.
I’m surprised some of the above comments got past moderation as they are inaccurate and I thought that was grounds filtering. When one of the above accuses Riddle of not being in favor of teaching American History, in my opinion, that’s an outright lie. At best, it’s a chapter out of the Obama book of nuance. Maybe, we need to teach our children World History before we teach them American History. One might argue that a comparison of Histories would be logical and more educational then the half ass approach being pushed by those compassionate progressives on our left…I would further argue with America’s so-called brutal ruthless History people still seem to be coming to visit and stay. Why is that? If we have such a racist culture why in the world would people of all colors make the trek with nothing more than the shirt on their back? Why not teach our kids about that? Why not teach our kids about Stalin, Hitler and every other leader who manipulated their educational systems and newspapers to gain absolute power? My friends history is all relative.
As I tell my kids life is not fair sometimes. Sometimes you need to suck it up and move forward. I think back to the Genocide in Ireland in the 1800s. 20% of the population was killed by English policies! But guess what, we sucked it up and moved on.
It’s time for all of us to put things in perspective. Back to Basics. Teach a child to read, write and balance a check book. Holy Cow, this is not rocket science.

Bryan Meek July 23, 2021 at 9:45 am

@JohnO. You too noticed the gaslighting and absolutism that serves no other purpose than to divide and propagate single party rule that has failed this city. It’s even more remarkable it is coming from the one who basically pulled the plug on what used to be an effective BOE with varying view points that served our citizens and children well. There is no debate. Do as your told or be gone. No counter view points are allowed. While children in China learn about the theory of relativity, ours learn about the theories of permanent victimhood. If MLK were to rise from the dead I think he would believe he was in this new wonderland where you are judged solely based on the color of your skin.

James Cahn July 24, 2021 at 2:34 pm

That’s an awful lot of focus on the schools for having zero BoE candidates on the ticket. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays of for them. Hahah.

John C Miller Jr July 24, 2021 at 4:09 pm

@John O’Neill: Your comments are spot on. What one of the previous commenters is talking about (CRT) is not factual history. It is propaganda the likes of which has not been seen since the likes of Hitler, Stalin and Chairman Mao inhabited the planet and all CRT does is distract from the fact that our school system needs to get back to the basics where the kids can read, write and balance a check book. Like you, I find it fascinating that most of the people attempting to enter the U.S., many doing so unlawfully, are people of color. Why would that be if people of color were as repressed in this country as the CRT crowd claims they would be? Finally, David M. needs to can the ranked choice voting nonsense. It’s a lot of nonsense and is getting rather boring.

Bryan K July 25, 2021 at 8:17 pm

So let me get this straight: a room full of middle aged and older, white, conservatives applauded the statement that CRT will not be allowed? Good grief you’d think one of them would be smart enough to notice why that’s a problem.

To echo a comment above it might not be in the best interest of the party to nominate a wealth asset manager with shockingly misguided principles to run a city as diverse as ours.

South Norwalk does need an elementary school though so at least he managed to get one issue right.

Mike O'Reilly July 25, 2021 at 10:17 pm

When you have a Board of Education initially advocating for a $5million dollar welcome center when you can easily rent space at The Human Services Council for a few thousand dollars a month. You know you have a spending problem. Hopefully Mr. Dashowitz and Mr. Ridddle can lift up the hood and take a closer look at all the waste and report back to voter’s. Thank you Mr. Daschowitz for being our voice of reason.

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