NORWALK, Conn. – Three Republicans are competing to represent District D on the Common Council, to be chosen for the seat being vacated by Tom Keegan on July 1.
- Carl Dickens, former Republican Town Committee chairman
- Bryan Meek, former Board of Education member
- Matthew Merluzzi, who ran for the Council at Large last fall
Keegan, the only Republican to get elected to the Common Council in the last two municipal elections, is moving to Florida, he said. The Norwalk Republican Town Committee’s District D members will vote to name a replacement to Keegan in a process defined by State Statute. Twenty Republicans are eligible to vote.
“District D will make the decision on who succeeds Tom. It is good to see a healthy level of interest and enthusiasm,” said Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Fred Wilms.
Romano didn’t say when the vote would be.
Meek alerted NancyOnNorwalk to his candidacy and that of Dickens. District D Chairman John Romano said Merluzzi is running.
Meek, in a letter to RTC members, said he attended Norwalk Public Schools and then “became familiar with city operations having worked in the Engineering Department for DPW during my summers in college in the 90s.” Later, he became politically involved in District C and the Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association (ENNA), including an unsuccessful run at Third Taxing District (TTD) Commissioner.
After moving to District D, near where he grew up, he was RTC treasurer for more than 10 years, while serving on the Parking Authority for more than five years under then-Mayor Richard Moccia and being its chairman for two year. He moved to the Board of Education when Jack Chiaramonte resigned and then won election to one 4-year term, before being unseated by a Democrat in 2019.
During his Parking Authority tenure, “we never had a deficit in accounts, while paying down garage debt and kicking off what was then a smart facilities plan that has since been scuttled by our opponents across the aisle,” he said. “My last vote on the school board was against the insane late HS start times. Like that, I was right about many other things too lengthy to list.”
Meek has been a supporter to independent twice-Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton and last year, donated $1,000 to her Independents for Norwalk effort while serving as RTC treasurer.
“My work with Independents is a minus to some who can’t see the changing electorate and our need to adapt to reality,” Meek wrote. “I see a path to victory like Republicans in Vermont and Massachusetts who are outnumbered 3 to 1, yet managed to send Republican Governors to the State House by working with the Independent party in opposition to the entrenched Hartford Democrats. I’m not saying it is simple or easy and there will be necessary compromise, but we must find common ground with independent minds and forge alliances to overcome the simple math involved here.”
Dickens, in a letter to RTC members, pointed out that he ran with Keegan to represent District D in 2019. Keegan is leaving “some big shoes to fill” but Dickens would do what he promised to do when campaigning three years ago, he said.
Norwalk’s quality of life is stagnant or eroding, he said in 2019, citing “Congestion, Infrastructure issues, home prices dropping and continued building without concern for the present or the future.” He said, “I chose to try and do something about it.”
Besides being RTC Chairman for about 14 months before stepping down due to health concerns, Dickens has been an Oak Hills Park Authority member since June 2018. He was OHPA chairman for two years and was vice chairman last year, he said.
“While serving as chair, I am extremely proud that after closing for covid, Oak Hills and the OHPA team reopened in May of 2019 with less than 3 thousand dollars in the bank. You may or may not know Oak Hills is self-funded with no tax dollars and no city money to support the course,” Dickens wrote. “As Tom was able to do, I have developed a working relationship with this administration and Council from my position. I have been a Republican my entire life. Army Vet and member of the American Legion. In the coming weeks, I will be shadowing Councilman Keegan on the many committees and issues, so I am up to speed on what is best for District D and all Norwalk Residents.”
Wilms did not supply Merluzzi’s letter to NancyOnNorwalk. Efforts to reach the candidate were unsuccessful.
Mayor Harry Rilling appointed him to the Conservation Commission in February. His resume states that he has been an independent futures trader since 2016 and before that, worked for Hitchcock Analytics for a year and was managing director for Lubben Capital Management from 2006-15.
Merluzzi is from Darien but lived in Norwalk from 2007 to 2010 and moved back to stay in 2014, he said last year.
In October, he said he had two main messages. One, he wanted practical environmental solutions that “don’t necessarily include windmills.” Two, “people are fed up with the apartment buildings.” He said, “I’m not against construction but it’s got to be smart. We’ve got to think about the long term of what we’re doing to the character of this town.”
In July, he said, “I care about Norwalk and I want to see become more livable again with less traffic” and slowed down construction. “I’d like to see a lot more green space protected. I like to see the environment that we can enjoy around Norwalk. … more parks, more open space, cleaner water on the Norwalk Islands, more fish, more stripers.”
Keegan said he has no preference.
“Out of fairness to each of the candidates as well as to all Republicans in the City I will not be advocating for nor endorsing anyone,” Keegan wrote. “It is a decision that should be made by the members of District D without influence from me. I will, however, explain to the RTC what my experiences have been on the Council and what qualities I believe would be most beneficial for a replacement to have. Ultimately it is a decision that the District D Republicans have to be comfortable with.”