Rilling, Moccia trade jabs in early-morning debate

Norwalk Rilling Moccia debate 102913 099
Democratic mayoral candidate Harry Rilling, left, debates incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia Tuesday morning at the Norwalk Inn.

(Updated 3:39 a.m. Wednesday with a full re-write.)

NORWALK, Conn. – It’s a different story for Norwalk, depending on which mayoral candidate you were listening to Tuesday morning.

Incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia said things are as good as they could reasonably be expected to be, given the economy. Democratic mayoral candidate Harry Rilling said things could be better.

The two men squared off at the biannual right of passage – a debate organized by the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce and The Hour at the Norwalk Inn. They faced a predominately male audience and a three-person panel of media members asking questions – some pointed, some allowing for loose-formed answers, allowing the candidates to head off in whatever direction they wanted.

The Hour Managing Editor Jerrod Ferrari asked Rilling if he had made promises to get union endorsements.

“These unions came to me,” Rilling said. “I did not solicit their input, their support.”

Union members were asking to be treated with civility and respect, he said.

“They have asked nothing more than that,” Rilling said.

“Sometimes with unions the definition of respect is when you go to the table and they say if you don’t give me everything that I want you don’t respect me,” Moccia said. “That’s not true, I treat everybody with respect. But there are times you’re going to differ on negotiations. I also have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of this city to balance the needs of the unions with the needs of the taxpayers. Many people come to me and say how can they complain? They have a job with benefits second to none.

“If you really want to believe that my opponent did not reach out to the unions, not only do I have a bridge in Brooklyn but I”ll sell you the Barkley Center with Brooklyn next to it.”

Moccia strongly defended his record.

“I believe I have led this city well during this very, very difficult economic times,” he said. “I don’t think there is any city in the Northeast that has fared as well as Norwalk. We don’t have double digit unemployment. We don’t have mass exodus of the city. Our school system will continue to improve. Our services to the community will continue to improve. I will continue to spend money on paving as I have, over $30 million in the last six years. If I went to Mr. Rilling’s condo complex I could probably find a crack in the sidewalk there too. That’s not how you run a city.”

“Do you feel that Norwalk over the past eight years has progressed in the right direction?” Rilling asked. “Have the things happened that should be happening? If not, what do then we do about it? I believe that there are things that need to be corrected. I believe there are things that things have gone unattended to. I know the mayor will make light of the fact that we did an op-ed on potholes and cracked sidewalks, but those are the small quality of life things that go unaddressed and people get the feeling that nobody cares because nobody is out there doing what is supposed to be done.

“I went around and it was only after so many people said to me, ‘Look, if you go on our street or you drive on this street, the potholes are horrible. Drive down Scribner Avenue,’” Rilling said. “… I believe we can do better. I think that I am that person who can bring the leadership to the table, that is going to be a proactive, hands-on mayor, not sit back and say that’s not my job.”

The hour-long debate is on The Hour’s website. You can watch it here.




7 responses to “Rilling, Moccia trade jabs in early-morning debate”

  1. Oldtimer

    Sorry I missed that debate. Moccia seems old and tired and satisfied with the job he has done. He certainly hasn’t shown much constructive leadership with NEON. Seems like he wants it to fail. He has refused several times to answer any question about his, and the City’s, concern about signing contracts with organized crime dominated vendors.

  2. Daisy

    I guess it’s no surprise that most of the people who read this blog, and therefore post comments, are left leaners. It’s making me queasy this early in the AM.

  3. Just Wondering

    @OldTimer Who is the organized crime vendor?? As a Norwalk resident I’m in the dark on this and don’t think it’s right. Please elaborate: You can’t just say that with backing it up, or doesn’t hold water.

  4. Bill

    Why the heck is Moccia talking about Norwalkers rather than himself. He had nothing to say in the above clip, he is completely out of ideas, and I’m not in love with Rilling, but I’ll be voting for him, we need someone new.

  5. The Deal

    Dick said “he treats everyone with respect”, and “no city in the NORTHEAST has fared any better”……..then why are there so many people who are upset and unhappy with the state of the city?

  6. Don’t Panic

    He treats everyone with respect except those who get up to speak at Common Council meetings, those who ask that he honor the labor agreements, and anybody else who says the city could be doing better.

  7. lael

    I was at the debate and disagree with the observations of the posters. I was struck by how Rilling had no plan that he could coherently articulate other than to spout the tired ‘change” mantra that we’ve heard before from Hartford and D.C. He seemed completely unprepared for this debate and talked about clearing up overgrown weeds and cigarette butts as pressing issues in Sono. I expected more from him. I was struck by the fact that if he’s elected, we’ll be paying him over $200,000.

    For me, if I hear “change” one more time, I’ll scream. I’ve had enough “change” already and I’m really concerned he’ll blow us up financially paying for all that union “respect” he’s so proud of. People are talking about all his promises and I’m worried about how he’ll jack up our taxes to pay for all those votes.

    Thoroughly unimpressed with Rilling’s performance and hoping the voters have enough sense to see through the bull.

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