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Three vie for Republican Norwalk Council seat

Common Council member Thomas Keegan (R-District D), Tuesday in City Hall. Keegan is moving to Florida.

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.

They are:

  • 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

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

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.”

 

Merluzzi

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

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.”

10 comments

Scott Vetare April 15, 2022 at 10:00 am

Whomever gets the seat will be an asset to the council. Tommy works his butt off for us and I know his succeser will too! Good luck to all three!

Piberman April 15, 2022 at 10:58 am

Norwalk’s Democratic leaders and its all Democratic BOE prefer not to talk about our City’s failing pubic school system where despite high salaries most of our graduating students fail to meet CT Edu Dept standards nor ever secure 4 yr college degrees. It’s a major embarrassment of our once proud City. Especially when our surrounding towns who spend as much per pupil as Norwalk have some of the nation’s top performing public schools where students often have access to the nations’ top colleges.

If there’s any quality that best describes Bryan Meek its that he’s he’s his own man and not at all hesitant to ask why we can do better providing essential services for our City.
If we’re going to see any substantial improvement in our public schools we need BOE members who hold our highly paid administrators feet to the fire and demand much better student achievements. Paying CT’s top Supt salary to oversee our failing pubic school system without demonstrating major achievements is an insult to Norwalk taxpayers, parents and students. A City that loves its kids ought move heaven and earth to give their kids a suitable public school education. Norwalk fails to do that for most of its students.

Patrick Cooper April 15, 2022 at 11:00 am

The RTC has an opportunity here to begin a “re-brand” in Norwalk. I’m not sure anyone can recall, but I do remember when the GOP was largely built on fiscal responsibility, and the concept of a small, efficient government operation that was extremely well managed: it functions properly.

What is clearly missing on this council is some financial expertise. You can see among them – squinting eyes and screwed up faces – they don’t quite get what Henry is talking about, when he explains how public money should be spent with the same care as they spend their family money. His definition of “equity” is ownership. Bonds are taxes.

Given the candidates, all fine men – I would recommend Brian Meek for this seat. I’ve had the chance to know Brian over the past 5 years – and his resume is the stuff common council members should demonstrate before governing. First off – he’s whip-smart. His proficiency with numbers and budgets would be a huge asset on this council – although that may not square with the spin doctors (not the band). Further, he has experience within the ranks of the Norwalk municipal government, in addition to excellent work on the BOE (anyone missing those days?). He’s got skin in the game = kids in the system. That’s the total package.

The term “competency” is what should be used to select candidates. Competency is the right mix of skills, knowledge, experience, and character. Brian checks all the boxes. He is the right guy.

Look, I know I might not be doing him any favors by publicly supporting him – but if the RTC is serious about being even marginally relevant in local matters, Brian is the guy. Put him in coach – he’s ready to play.

Piberman April 15, 2022 at 7:51 pm

To Patrick Cooper:

Well said. If our BOE lacks even one member who would qualify to manage a small Wal Mart how could our BOE possibly successfully manage our public school system with a $200 million plus budget to secure grads who meet CT Edu guidelines ? . If our BOE lacks even one member whose never run a “Union shop” or managed any significant enterprise how could they possibly yield acceptable results for our public school system.

Our surrounding wealthy towns have “high standards” for their BOEs and their results speak for themselves. Hard to avoid the conclusion that Norwalk’s Dem leadership just doesn’t care enough about educating our kids. Their responsibilities end when they get elected.

Anyone but Meek April 17, 2022 at 7:09 am

I hope the RTC. Has the common sense not to select Brian Meek. He’s an angry, delusional man that has been the last two years posting on conspiracy theories all over social media. If this is the type of image the party once, then this is Your guy. Keep in mind he will be the face of the Republican party in the town of Norwalk and it will have a huge impact in future elections. I would choose wisely. This man has no credibility whatsoever and sadly he destroyed a lot of the work he put in the Board of Education with all his raging on Facebook over the last two years.

Justin Matley April 17, 2022 at 8:35 am

In the few communications we’ve had, I’ve always found Carl respectful, passionate, and caring. I’d be glad to see him in that seat.

Seriously? April 17, 2022 at 1:21 pm

Piberman:

This is the fault of the DTC and the mayor, who runs the party. They are interested in control, but not in ensuring quality oversight, and so they run for BOE seats only people they can control, regardless of their lack of leadership potential, and the voters keep electing them. In return, the mayor dangles shiney objects in front of the voters (e.g., the new NHS that isn’t needed and a new Cranbury School), as though these and other shiney objects will make everything better. They won’t. The system is falling apart because it is dependent upon PEOPLE, not buildings, and NPS is losing far too many quality people because of a weak BOE and a poorly-chosen superintendent.

When NPS eventually fails, as it is likely to do under the current mayor, superintendent and board of education, the mayor will express surprise and dismay — and he will find someone else to blame. Maybe he’ll find a way to blame Putin and the war in Ukraine. (Believe me, I don’t intend making light of the war because it is a world tragedy.)

Sherelle Harris April 18, 2022 at 9:39 pm

I’m sad to learn that Mr. Keegan is leaving. Despite party or philosophical differences, he is a human being who cares. That is what I respect about him. There was time to come outside of the political arena and be human and enjoy people. I found that we both love good comedy. I don’t think I would have learned that if we’d stuck to the political prescription.

Tommy, I wish you all the best in your next endeavor.

DrewT April 19, 2022 at 10:12 am

I’m so glad we have some really great people trying to take over Tommy’s seat in the CC. Tom will never be replaced but we know we have incredibly capable people trying to fill his shows. The candidates are all committed to our City and will be a strong voice for us. I couldn’t be happier to know and serve with them in the RTC. Good luck to the candidates and I’m looking forward to seeing them work and help get this City in the right direction! We need their voices and leadership!

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