NORWALK, Conn. – Harry Rilling made his first public maneuvers as Norwalk’s next mayor Wednesday morning by naming two people with the “highest qualifications” for two of the city’s highest positions – longtime Democratic insider Donna King for city clerk and “Super Lawyer” Mario F. Coppola as Norwalk’s next corporation counsel.
Coppola brings “a high degree of knowledge and wealth of experience” to “one of the most important appointments that a mayor can make,” Rilling said. King is “a very qualified and capable individual” who will hit the ground running, Rilling said.
Coppola, a partner at the law firm of Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C., will replace Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan, who has led Norwalk’s law department since March 2006.
Coppola has regularly provided legal representation and services to other municipalities such as the towns of Westport, Trumbull, New Canaan, Madison and Easton, according to a press release. He has handled hundreds of matters on behalf of municipalities in the areas of land use and zoning, zoning enforcement, tax assessment appeals and tax collection from the administrative level through the Connecticut courts.
He’s is listed in New England Super Lawyers Magazine. Coppola outscores Maslan on Internet lawyer ratings sites, with a 4.6 out of 5 to Maslan’s 4.4 out of 5 on Martindale.com
While Maslan is described on various websites as an attorney specializing in land use and commercial litigation, Martindale.com describes Coppola’s practice area as municipal law, land use and zoning, property tax assessment appeals, real estate transactions and general civil litigation. The Connecticut Law Tribune listed Coppola as one of its “New Leaders In The Law” in the November 2012 edition of its New Leaders In The Law Yearbook, the press release said.
“I’ve spoken with him on many occasions and I am very, very confident in his ability and the fact that he will be an excellent corporation counsel and represent the city of Norwalk in the highest degree,” Rilling said.
King’s appointment is no surprise to anyone following Norwalk politics. She is a 35-year member of the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee who served as chairwoman for seven years. She was elected city treasurer from 2001 to 2007 and is the chairwoman of the Maritime Authority. Since 1999, King has been working in the office of the state treasurer in Hartford as an executive assistant and banking liaison in the cash management division.
“I’ve known Donna for many years,” said Rilling. “I know that she has tremendous connections, not only locally, statewide, but nationally in the political circles. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge that is going to serve the city of Norwalk and serve the mayor’s office extremely well over the next two years. … I know she is going to hit the ground running as soon as we get settled into the office.”
The former police chief predicted that King’s nomination will be approved by the new Common Council in its first meeting next week.
King will replace Erin (Halsey) Herring, who has served for more than two years.
King said she will be glad to “return home” as city clerk and may attend meetings on Rilling’s behalf.
“There is a learning curve to the prescribed responsibilities so that will be interesting, but I think there will be issues and policies that the mayor will initiate and will want me to help see through,” she said.