NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s long-time police chief was still getting used to the title “mayor” as he sat in his new office recently expressing thoughts between phone calls.
“There’s a lot to do up front,” Mayor Harry Rilling said on his third day occupying a mostly undecorated room on the second floor of City Hall. “It’s very, very interesting, all of the things that need to get done.”
Two posters made by children at West Rocks Middle School sat on the sofa; a collage made by his grandchildren sat on the top of a filing cabinet. Other than that there were no decorations. The bookcase shelves were empty.
“Understanding this is Day 3, the thing that is most surprising to me is the number of people that want to see me right away and the things that you have to do which kind of consume an inordinate amount of time,” he said. “You have to cut down on meetings, impromptu meetings; you have to cut down on those unless there’s an urgent need. If somebody comes into the office to meet with me, I may not have the time to do that and we have to set up a meeting for them. But if there’s an urgent need, obviously we have to take care of it right away and adjust my schedule.”
Rilling said he was planning to work evenings.
“I’ll be attending some committee meetings and commissions, going and getting up to speed on some of those things, getting up to speed on where they are and what their issues are, what they’re working on, what they’re confronted with,” he said.
Three days later he attended the Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) board meeting. NEON and Head Start were consuming a lot of his time right up until Thanksgiving, he said, as he worked behind the scenes with local, state and federal officials to try to help get those trouble programs back on track.
Rilling said he had a ribbon cutting that afternoon, his second foray with the big scissors. A ribbon cutting reflects something positive, he said, mentioning that was a phrase used by former Mayor Richard Moccia. But he said he was planning to delegate.
“I would like to share the ribbon cutting duties with members of the Common Council and other elected officials. We can all participate in it,” he said. “It doesn’t always have to be the mayor out front. I can go to them and have the council president, or council minority leader, assist with cutting the ribbon, so that everybody gets exposure rather than just having the mayor out there.”
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