More activist than politician, I’ve never sought office for personal gain, nor taken the fast track, party loyalty pledge. This year, in the middle of a pandemic, I decided to give our American traditions of representation with checks and balances one last try.
City Hall was closed most of 2020 and 2021, yet outside special interest money flowed into the re-election coffers of the mayor, along with fast-tracked ‘zoomed’ agendas. It was during this period that I decided to bring the Independent Party back to Norwalk and run for an At-Large seat on the Common Council. Why? Because outside and outsized special interest agendas would not be possible without the complicity or ignorance of a rubber-stamping common council.
I’ve assembled a team of 15 courageous residents of all political stripes to run for the Common Council, the Board of Education and other city-wide offices, in order to stand up for Norwalk, stand up for residents and stand up to this administration. Whether I win or lose, my political legacy will be the return of the Independent Party to Norwalk. Let me address the obvious question: why do we need it?
Representation: Over 43% of Norwalk’s 57,000 registered voters (roughly 25,000) are registered as unaffiliated or independent. This statistic doesn’t factor in Democratic or Republican voters, who consider themselves moderates within their respective parties, or non-partisan when it comes to local government.
Check and balance: Unintended consequences occur when opposing views are silenced or power becomes too concentrated or lopsided, leaving residents without any check on their government. Currently, 24/25 of Norwalk’s major elected offices, including Mayor, Common Council and Board of Education are represented by a single party, despite a 45/55 percentage split in votes in 2019.
Non-partisan: I believe political parties are irrelevant to providing city services and I’m not alone. According to the National League of Cities, 22 out of 30 of the most populous cities in the U.S. have non-partisan elections. Given Connecticut’s election rules, bringing back the Independent Party back was the closest I could get to promoting a non-partisan, common sense approach to electing good government representatives on the local ballot.
Norwalk Needs More Accountability, Balance and Communication.
Accountability. Concentrated power has given way to transparency and accountability issues. Years of private caucus meetings have hindered public discussion and debate over development, population density, personnel issues, school funding and economic policy. Decisions have been made behind closed doors. Exacerbated by the pandemic, special interest agendas have fast tracked through the Common Council and Board of Education. Personnel and ethics issues plague City Hall, from hiring practices, behavioral issues, to promotions, salaries, retirements and rehires.
Balance. Lopsided power and special interests removed balance from our city. Campaign contributions from developers and legal firms have outsized influence over ordinary residents’ voices. City Hall’s designated ‘Enterprise and Opportunity’ development zones are overly generous both financially and geographically. These apartments are built under the guise of ‘affordable’ housing, but that’s only 10% of the units; 90% are priced at or above local market. Tax incentives means revenues needed to operate a more densely populated city won’t be realized for years, leaving long-time residents picking up the tab.
Communication. Norwalk’s government needs to communicate more with residents. They work for us and must be transparent. A decade of back door deals and rubber stamping by the Common Council and more recently, our Board of Education has placed unsustainable pressure on our classrooms, city streets, parks, infrastructure and budget. This must stop.
The current administration, working hand in hand with Hartford has made us the most densely populated city in Western Connecticut, without considering the city’s ability to service more people, it’s impact on quality of life or how Norwalk would pay for it.
We NEED to do better. We CAN do better. Those running on the independent line WILL do better and have made the commitment to represent the residents of Norwalk – better.
Common Council At Large – Candidate
Independents For Norwalk