NORWALK — Norwalk Democrats have again slaughtered their competition in a municipal election.
Incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling won reelection Tuesday with more than 63% of the vote, according to preliminary results. In a repeat of the two previous municipal elections, Rilling will again have a 14 to one Democratic majority Common Council; all four available Board of Education seats went to Democrats.
Tom Keegan will again be the lone Republican on the Common Council. Independents for Norwalk had only one victor: Andy Meyerson handily beat Democrat Priscilla Feral to become a Sixth Taxing District Commissioner.
Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story
Former Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton, who founded Independents for Norwalk this year, came in last in her bid for a Council at Large seat.
“It looks like Norwalk Democrats have a lot to celebrate tonight,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said to the group gathered in the Hilton Garden Inn. “… Norwalk is a Democratic city.”
Rilling, caught up in the celebratory mood as victorious Democrats posed for a group photo, drew resounding laughter when he quipped, “One party rule is OK when it’s us.”
The preliminary results, according to Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells:
- Harry Rilling, D 9006 (8,406 on the Democratic line, 374 Working Families Party and 223 “unknown”)
- Jonathan Riddle, R 5,152
- Rick McQuaid, R (8,208 on the Democratic line, 5,189 on the Republican line, 20 “unknown”)
Board of Education at large
- Kara Baekey, D 7,359 (6,657 on the Democratic line, 646 Working Families Party and 56 “unknown”)
- Sheri McCready Brown, D 7215 (6,528 on the Democratic line, 610 Working Families Party and 77 “unknown”)
- Colin Hosten, D 7,173 (6,500 on the Democratic line, 628 Working Families Party and 45 “unknown”)
- Janine Randolph, D 7,024 (6,345 on the Democratic line, 628 Working Families Party and 51 “unknown”)
- Jody Sattler, I 4,212
- Alex Kemeny, I 4,190
- Katherine (Price) Snedaker, I 3,982
- Shirley Mosby, I 3,815
Common Council at large
- Greg Burnett, D 8,217 (7,269 on the Democratic line, 894 Working Families Party and eight “unknown”)
- Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, D 8,053 (7,152 on the Democratic line, 853 Working Families Party and 48 “unknown”)
- Barbara Smyth, D 7,725 (7,067 on the Democratic line, 580 Working Families Party and 78 “unknown”)
- Josh Goldstein, D 7,503 (6,914 on the Democratic line, 539 Working Families Party and 50 “unknown”)
- Dominique Johnson, D 7,063 (6,570 on the Democratic line, 440 Working Families Party and 53 “unknown”)
- Richard Bonenfant, R 5,970
- Matthew Merluzzi, R 5,151
- Enrique Santiago, R 4,387
- Lisa Brinton, I 3,698
Council District A
- David Heuvelman, D 1,399 (1,241 on the Democratic line, 148 Working Families Party and 10 “unknown”)
- Nicol Ayers, D 1,298
- Luis Estrella, R 749
- Chris Morales, I 354
Council District B
- Darlene Young, D 996 (879 on the Democratic line, 84 Working Families Party and three “unknown”)
- Diana Révolus, D 880 (796 on the Democratic line, 73 Working Families Party and 11 “unknown”)
Council District C
- John Kydes, D 1,814
- Jenn McMurrer, 1,693 (1,476 on the Democratic line, 175 Working Families Party and 20 “unknown”)
- Read Auerbach, R 1,434
- Scott Goodwin, I 468
Council District D
- Heidi Alterman, D 1,978 (1,772 on the Democratic line, 201 Working Families Party and five “unknown”)
- Tom Keegan, R 1,817
- Diane Jellerette, D 1,668 (1,569 on the Democratic line, 91 Working Families Party and eight “unknown”)
- Heather Dunn, I 738
Council District E
- Tom Livingston, D 2,195 (1,980 on the Democratic line, 198 Working Families Party and 17 “unknown”)
- Lisa Shanahan, D 2,039 (1,892 on the Democratic line, 130 Working Families Party and 17 “unknown”)
- Andrew Anello, R 1,098
- Heather Schneider, I 902
First Taxing District Commissioner
- Elsa Peterson Obuchowski, D 872
- Karen Doyle Lyons, R 486
First Taxing District Treasurer
- Rosa Murray, D 949
- John Miller, R 446
Second Taxing District Commissioner
- Sandra Stokes, D 727
- Mary Mann, D 741
Second Taxing District Treasurer
- Darlene Young, D 797
Third Taxing District Commissioner
- Johnnie Mae Weldon, D 721
- Suzanne Buffone, R 626
Third Taxing District Treasurer
- Read Auerbach, R 898
Sixth Taxing District Commissioner
- Andy Meyerson, I 846
- Priscilla Feral, D 270
Sixth Taxing District Treasurer
- Gilbert Kernan, R 657
- Andy Garfunkel, D 7,606
- Samuel Pride, D 6,504
- Shannon O’Toole Giandurco, R 4,643
- Kathryn Martino, R 4,460
- Denise Chicatell Brown, I 1,435
- Jo Bennett, I 1,519
- Bobby Burgess, D 6,937
- Ron Paladino, R 4,522
- Joe Maddafari, I 2,373
(Top seven are winners)
- Beth Siegelbaum, D 6,813
- Johnnie Mae Weldon, D 6,727
- Jalin Sead, D 6,666
- Ernie Dumas, D 6,617
- Peter Bondi, R 5,085
- John Romano, R 4,966
- Ray Cooke, R 4,887
- Frank Mauro, R 4,636
- Erik Anderson, I 1,735
- Jeff Rollings, I 1,563
- Joe Tamburri, D 7,874
- Jerry Petrini, R 5,732
The results do not include Election Day Registration and have not been double-checked, Wells said.
If the stats hold, it’s Rilling’s best showing yet, as he won reelection with 55.5% in 2019, 56 % in 2017 and 62.1% in 2015.
This was Riddle’s second run at elected office; he unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) last fall and didn’t become an actively vocal Norwalk Mayoral candidate until October.
“I’m really surprised about the voter turnout,” Riddle said Tuesday evening at the Norwalk Inn. “It’s lower than I expected, especially with everything going on in the country. But you know, it was a short runway for this campaign. And we are starting the next campaign for the next two years tonight.”
Yes, he’s planning to run for Mayor in 2023.
“I’m going to keep Harry accountable, I’m going to watch every single move that he does, I’m going to call out all of his failures,” Riddle said. “And we are going to watch the Board of Education to make sure that they’re doing the proper things for our children in this city, and improving the education instead of focusing on things that are outside of the classroom.”
Riddle said he doesn’t expect any competition for the 2023 Mayoral candidacy.
“I’m going to establish a very strong campaign and we are going to bring a full backing and contact all 56,000 voters in Norwalk in order to win this election,” he said.
Acting Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Fred Wilms said, “Two years is a long time. But you know, what, he came in around 39%. And so I think certainly, if he wants to take a look at it again, he deserves a shot.”
Does Wilms think Riddle won’t have competition in 2023?
“Two years is an eternity in politics,” Wilms said.
Wilms congratulated Rilling on his victory, calling a fifth term “quite an achievement.”
“I also want to credit all the all the victors the winners, they put in hard campaigns,” he said. “Certainly on our side, we’re very happy about Tom Keegan staying in office. Obviously, we had hoped for more. But, you know, we’re glad that Tom is back. And all I can say is, as far as the party goes, I mean, obviously, it’s been a rough three, four years for us. But I there’s a lot of new people that are joining. There’s a lot of new energy, and I’m feeling more optimistic today than I was six months ago.”
‘Norwalk likes what we’re doing’
Brinton did not reply to an email asking for a response to the election.
It’s her third attempt to win elected office, as she ran for Mayor in 2017 as an unaffiliated candidate before securing the Republican endorsement in 2019. Her “Independents for Norwalk” largely repeated her refrains, announcing that the Rilling administration is over developing Norwalk and alleging that tax credits are being handed out to developers.
Duff, in speaking to the DTC, said, “Most cities would die for, and are envious of, the developments happening in the city. They would die for one development.”
Norwalk residents are telling Democrats they “love the way things are moving forward” and it’s being done very responsibly, “continue to do the great work that you’re doing each and every day,” Duff said. “’You’re working to solve problems together. You’re having a debate about those the issues that you’re bringing forward, and that you’re doing it in a way that make the people of Norwalk proud.’”
Rilling said, “This is the hardest working team of candidates we have ever had. And it shows, the results are in and the city of Norwalk has overwhelmingly said ‘We like what you’re doing. And we want to continue on this path.’”
This will be Rilling’s fifth two-year term. What might be different?
“I think we have to keep Norwalk moving in the right direction, we have to have smart growth, we have to have, one of the first things we have to do is get out of this pandemic.”
He spoke of school infrastructure and smart growth and exploring alternative energies.
The Rilling administration attempted a charter revision in 2015 but voters spurned the move after a campaign spearheaded by Brinton, who alleged that the proposed lengthening of the Mayoral term into four years was purely self-interest on Rilling’s part.
So might charter revision be a goal this term?
“I think it’s a good time to try,” he said. “Charter revision is absolutely critical. It’s necessary that charter needs to be reworked looked at, you know, make the appropriate changes. Yes, I am planning on discussing that with the Council, see what their thoughts are and if we can put together a charter revision commission.”
And what became of the plan to expand the Norwalk Public Library, possibly by purchasing adjacent land owned by real estate broker Jason Milligan?
“That’s still in the works,” Rilling said. “… We want to make that library, kind of a center, a hub down in the center of Norwalk.”
Updated, 1:12 p.m.: More information.
Updated at 5 a.m. with complete story.
NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Democrats are once again celebrating – they have won almost every top-level elected office in Tuesday’s election, they say.
Mayor Harry Rilling has cruised to reelection and every Democratic Council at Large candidate has won, they say. The entire Democratic Board of Education slate is in.
This preliminary count does not include absentee ballots, but they’re confident about every seat except District D Council. They believe Republican Council member Tom Keegan has won reelection, and his Democratic counterpart will be Heidi Altermann.
Norwalk is solidly Democratic, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said.
This story will be updated.