Rilling, Brown rally Norwalk Dems for 49-day push

NORWALK, Conn. – Amanda Brown tried hard to rally the troops Monday night, now that the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee finally has a mayoral candidate to rally behind.

“We all had different ideas on the mayoral candidate, but the main purpose was the same. We all wanted Norwalk to be better. That is our common purpose,” DTC Chairwoman Brown said in City Hall.

Both Brown and former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling took pains to thank the three men who did not win last Tuesday’s primary — Andy Garfunkel, Matt Miklave and Vinny Mangiacopra — for their efforts. Rilling said he has reached out to them and conversations are planned.

“Everyone has ideas we can mold together,” he said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, Sen. Chris Murphy and others have reached out to tell Rilling how important it is to “turn Norwalk blue again.”

“This is not going to be an easy campaign,” he said.

Indeed. Brown had thoughts on the topic of tackling eight-year incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia as well.

“Mr. Moccia is not as weak as we had expected him to be,” she said. “With that being said, Harry is a very good candidate. He became the people’s choice when he won the way that he did and we want to make sure that not only the people’s choice but our under-ticket that we chose gets all into office so they can do the job that the city of Norwalk really desires.”

The election is only 49 days away, she said.

“It means 49 hard days of campaigning. That means we’re going from second gear to fifth gear today and we’re running on all cylinders. If we can speak with one voice as one party there is no reason why we can’t get this electorate, which tops the Republican electorate, to vote for us and put all of our people in office.”

That ticket is not quite as advertised in July. John Hauter has withdrawn his name as a District C Common Council candidate, and Republican Town Clerk Rick McQuaid is currently running unopposed.

Brown asked the Dems to try and find candidates for those positions, particularly because it leaves District C council candidate John Kydes at a disadvantage, a “serious hole.” The good news is that the Republicans seem to think of Kydes as a threat in their East Norwalk stronghold as they are watching him like a hawk, having complained about where he has put signs, she said.

Kydes said he must be doing something right, as the Republicans are angry.

Second Taxing District candidates have changed as well. Martha Dumas is now running for commissioner instead of Sandra Stokes. The Rev. Sonya Merrill is running for treasurer instead of Lenora Jordan.

Brown said that, while Moccia hasn’t been as weakened as she had hoped, the Democratic Party was “actually getting a lot of grass roots organizing and gathering done,” and had demonstrated to the public that the party could raise money, get endorsements and knock on doors.

There are now 15,985 registered Democrats in Norwalk, about 500 more than when the campaigns started.

Again, she said, only 49 days left. “That’s all we have left to campaign,” she said. “We have several candidates that are not necessarily well known that we’re going to have to do a lot of pushing and work to get them known as well as what they need to win.”

Rilling said he expects to get a campaign headquarters lined up in a few days, which he predicted would be “a beehive of activity.” That would start with Saturday morning meetings.

“We have better ideas, we have better people, we have the better team,” he said. “We have to let people know.”

The new Republican headquarters are “not very impressive,” he said, vowing to best the GOP in that department as well.

Rilling also has secured the Working Families Party endorsement. He said he has a new field director and is talking to a potential finance person.

Winning is “extremely doable,” he said.

“We can and we will do it,” he said. “We have to do it collectively.”

Afterward, Common Councilman David Watts agreed with Brown that Moccia will be tough, even considering Garfunkel came within 880 votes last time.

“If anybody goes into this election thinking that he’s weak, they’ve got another thing coming,” he said. “He’s a formidable opponent. He has a lot of resources at his disposal. You cannot take an eight-year incumbent lightly.”


19 responses to “Rilling, Brown rally Norwalk Dems for 49-day push”

  1. LWitherspoon

    “Brown had thoughts on the topic of tackling eight-year incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia as well.”
    Does this mean that there is more physical violence planned involving Ms. Brown and another senior citizen?
    Either way, this article appears to suggest that Harry Rilling does not support change at the top of the DTC. What a disappointment.

  2. Bruce Kimmel

    The language of political discourse, even during elections, needs to change. To wit: Are we being asked to truly believe that the Democratic candidates are “better people” than those on the Republican ticket? One would think so, based on the above. Also, and this is a more difficult question: Is the goal to make the city “blue” or “red,” or is the goal to elect the best candidates? For the record, I am a Democrat, but my favorite color is green. And I have been nominated by the Republicans for an at large seat on the Common Council. So perhaps I am neither a “good” nor a “bad” person, but somewhere in between. And heaven knows what color I am.

  3. sjur soleng

    Maybe our local politicians need to turn focus to the side of Norwalk that pays for everything in this city; the taxpaying property and home owners. We don’t want new programs, we want the old ones scrapped and/or made better and efficient. We want our property taxes reduced not increased. You want our local economy to improve you don’t tax it to prosperity, you leave people with hard earned money so they can in turn spend it locally.

  4. James

    I find it very disturbing when one party says they want to “best” the other. I agree with Bruce Kimmel in stating that candidates should be running to better Norwalk, not to be triumphant over the other party.

    If the author of this article reads this, I think at this point in the mayoral campaign it would be best to compare and contrast both parties’ running candidates.

  5. EveT

    @L Witherspoon, where do you get the idea that “Harry Rilling does not support change at the top of the DTC”? The Dem and Rep town committees have their own rules and procedures for electing their leaders. It is not up to any individual to implement “change at the top.”

  6. D(ysfunctional)TC

    I guess a 49 day push is better than a 49 day shove.

    Definately better than a 49 day slap.

    But the GOP should be panicking over the more impressive HQ offering. That is sure to dupe the electorate into thinking the tax and spend policies from Malloy and Himes are good for this city.

  7. LWitherspoon

    Harry Rilling lent his support and credibility to Amanda “Knockdown” Brown by attending the press conference designed to sweep the entire ugly incident under the rug. He has since been mute on the subject of change at the top of the DTC. Mr. Rilling’s silence speaks volumes about where he stands on this issue.
    It’s disappointing that after so many years as our chief law enforcement officer, Mr. Rilling is now silent regarding Ms. Brown’s violent behavior, for his own political gain. I would be far more likely to vote for Mr. Rilling but only if he were to establish himself as an independent reform-minded candidate, but he has shown no inclination to do so.

  8. Suzanne

    I am with you, L Witherspoon, on this issue. There have been excuses made: you can’t make a statement until all of the facts are in, for example. I say, violence is violence and using it to solve a problem is wrong. I don’t understand the continued reliance on this person, Amanda Brown, when her solution, albeit against apparently formidable aged opponents, was to clobber someone to solve her problems. I have asked other Democrats who have served in various capacities in the City government why she might be retained. In my very informal survey, the general reply was, “There is no one else.” However, comments were made about general aggressive tendencies and that her church made her apologize for the incident if she were to continue as a member. In other words, the act of violence was not what the apology was for. Why would the Democrats continue to support that? And why wouldn’t Mr. Rilling, on general principle that violence is wrong, come out with a strong statement against this issue? Somehow, this article makes Ms. Brown politically expedient and necessary and I find that particularly sad and bankrupt. As to the headquarters, yikes! Where is what they are going to do to be of service to Norwalk??????

  9. NorwalkVoter

    Why does Mr. Kimmel think that everyone is always talking about him? A bit defensive I would say.

  10. Norwalk Spectator

    Gov. Dannel Malloy, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, Sen. Chris Murphy and others have reached out to tell Rilling how important it is to “turn Norwalk blue again.”
    Why does Norwalk have to be “blue”? Is this an appeal to support the Democratic party or an election by the citizens of Norwalk for their City government? Apparently Malloy, Himes, Murphy and company are more concerned about the power of the Connecticut Democratic Party than they are about Norwalk’s residents. That statement alone would make me think long and hard about voting Democratic.

  11. piberman

    DTC Chair Brown has created the “real handicap” for the Democrats in this election. Having backed a young, inexperienced candidate instead of the widely assumed front runner with strong visibility and civic exposure DTC Chair Brown forced the party to endure a debiliating primary and the cost of raising over a $100,000. Whatever the election outcome the DTC needs a more professional Chair having the full respect of the DTC and Party in general. Indeed, the DTC Chair could enhance Chief Rilling’s prospects by announcing her intention to resign once the election is over. There’s no modern precedent for a DTC Chair in Norwalk not supporting from the outset the eventual primary winner.

  12. ScopeonNorwalk

    Piberman what are you talking about. Most of the DTC does not support Harry Rilling.

  13. ScopeonNorwalk

    Even with Amanda Brown’s votes, he would not have had the votes to get the nomination at the DTC convention.

  14. ScopeonNorwalk

    Harry Rillings handicap is his past and all the promises he put out there to when the primary that he has no way of keeping.

  15. EastNorwalkChick

    Many Norwalkers do not keep up with the goings on in the two political parties committees. So unless the DTC situation is pointed out to them during the campaign by Moccia, even then there is a chance that the average voter will not use this to vote against Rilling. It is a non-issue to them.
    What is an issue to them are increasing property taxes, the new assessments, the stagnant grand list and the failing school system. Then couple that with the minor issues of late, BJ’s, the holiday garbage pickup problems and those silly bike lanes on Strawberry Hill. People will remember who is in City Hall when this all came about….and may just vote for Rilling just to see if some other guy can do better.
    So as I see it…this race is Moccia’s to loose.

  16. Herb Eaversmels

    I am a registered Republican and have voted for Mayor Moccia every time he ran for office. However, based on what I have observed under his watch I am afraid I cannot vote for him again. It’s sad. I wonder if I have this change of heart, how many other voters has he put off. I am not sure if its his race to loose… I think he already lost…

  17. Don’t Panic

    Ah, where to begin. Folks taking umbrage at the “red/blue” paradigm need to remember that the audience for this speech was not the general public–it was a party meeting. Part of rallying together a fractious party apparatus after a primary of this magnitude involves reminding folks that they can unite against the opposition.
    While I am no fan of the way the “brawl” was handled, responsibility for this four-way primary cannot be laid at Ms Brown’s feet. Four strong candidates were able to move on without the party apparatus because it was largely dysfunctional long before she took the reins, and certainly before the incident.
    Similarly, @EveT is correct. Mr. Rilling has no direct power to effect change in the leadership of the DTC. That lies with the voting members.
    As for no modern precedent, that is true, because there hasn’t been a real primary for decades.

  18. Norwalk Spectator

    @Don’t Panic – Regarding the use of the red/blue paradigm, it might have been said at a political party event, but it doesn’t look like it has helped the DTC by reducing the Norwalk residents to something like a Risk game playing piece. Regardless of which party is in power, we pay taxes. And to pay those taxes, we work. Some of us hold multiple jobs to pay the taxes and feed our families. So, I’m all about who the best candidate is to lead Norwalk, not whether Norwalk is considered a red or blue city.

  19. Don’t Panic

    @nwlk spec.
    Agreed. Let’s focus on performance and ideas and elect the best people for the jobs.

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