Will the real Democratic Party candidates please stand up?

By Delia Petti

NORWALK, Conn. – This is the first time in recent Norwalk political history that the Democratic Party has had an over-abundant field of mayoral candidates. Three of the four candidates currently running for the mayoral position have served the Democratic Party in a substantive manner over the years.  Andy Garfunkel served as the Democratic Town Clerk for 10 years and ran as the 2011 Democratic Mayoral candidate, Matt Miklave, Esq. served on the Common Council for 10 years as a Democrat out of District A and Vinny Mangiacopra has worked on several Democratic candidate campaigns during the past 10 years and is currently serving as the Chairman of District D.

Harry Rilling has distinguished himself from the others. He has only been a Democrat for about three months and was appointed to the Planning & Zoning Commission as an unaffliated voter, which he has said was his designation because his former job as police chief required him to remain neutral on political affairs.  However, in July 2011 on the 20th during the Republican Town Committee Convention, according to an article by The Hour, Chief of Police Harry W. Rilling, whose contract was to expire in December 2012 said, “Congratulations on your anticipated nomination. Thank you for being a great boss.”

While Andy Garfunkel was actively campaigning as a Democrat for Moccia’s seat, Rilling was lending his community leadership credibility in favor of Republicans and aligning himself against the Democratic Party and those that ran on the 2011 ticket, such as Matt Miklave (candidate for in-district “A” councilman), Vinny Mangicopra (candidate for sheriff ) and even Chairwoman Amanda M. Brown (candidate for in-district “C” councilman). I wonder if this information was brought to their attention before the Cinco de Mayo Meet and Greet.

This type of inconsistency calls into question the character of Harry Rilling.  His behavior demonstrates the same type of political flip-flopping that the public is already wearied of.  How could you praise Moccia in 2011 and run against him in 2013?  “Electibility” or not, the old guard political machine behind Rilling should know that voters like me won’t be deceived by these tactics this time.  There are actually three real Democrats to choose from that offer an improvement over Moccia, any day and any of his subordinates, so we “Democrats” will pick one of them.

Delia Petti


21 responses to “Will the real Democratic Party candidates please stand up?”

  1. LWitherspoon

    What a shame that serving Norwalk does not take precedence over serving the party. I guess Bruce Kimmel was right. I am hopeful that the voters will make their decision based more on service to Norwalk as a whole, rather than service to one political party.
    Speaking of serving one political party, the Democratic candidates were all required by the DTC to fill out questionnaires answering such questions as “How do you feel about unions?” Nearly all the candidates have made transparency a buzzword in their campaigns, which is commendable. But talk is cheap – how about putting transparency into action. Will each candidate demonstrate his commitment to transparency by releasing his completed candidate questionnaire to the public? Or does the DTC get to have more information about the candidates’ positions than the broader voting public?

  2. Looking for Change

    Confused by the letter. Since when does being nice to your boss disqualify someone from running for office?
    Both parties have their litmus tests. Dems are supposed to be pro-union. Republicans are supposed to be anti-union. Dems are supposed to think that Obama is a minor deity. Republicans are all told to worship at the feet of the Supreme Moccia (look what happens to the R’s who don’t).

  3. Broderick I. Sawyer

    You can have a copy of mine Witherspoon.

  4. LWitherspoon

    You can see the questionnaire here:
    I will have a hard time voting for any candidate who is willing to answer these questions for the DTC but not for the voters.

  5. NorwalkLifer

    What a fraud. Support the Republican party and their nominee for mayor in 2011 and then run as a Democrat in 2013?

    I thought Harry said he was “neutral” as police chief and that’s why he wasn’t registered as a Democrat… the truth comes out.

  6. Molly

    It is clear that three of the candidates are dedicated Democrats who have worked to help the party move forward. I don’t know how Rilling can be objective or change the flaws of the Moccia administration when he has been part of the problem. Rilling has served Norwalk for over 40 years, but what exactly has he done beside collect a paycheck? We need to stand by the true Democrats, not the candidate who is a “Republican in disguise”. Rilling has been and will continue to be the wrong choice for Norwalk.

  7. Tim T

    I said it before and I will say it again
    Moccia is Rilling
    Rilling is Moccia
    As far as I am concerned the only reason Rilling is running against Moccia is to guarantee the old boys club stays in control.
    As far as I can see Rilling couldn’t run one department and now he wants to run the city…Only in Norwalk

    Officer Santo

    Officer Ouellette

    LT Cummings

    The Domestic Abuse cover-up

    The Pastor “Kidnapped” by police and then payed $20,000 not to sue.

  8. Tim T

    Looking for Change
    That whole dems being pro union thing is propaganda that the Republicans have been shoveling for years along with Republican being anti union..
    A perfect example would be how the Republican Moccia appointed a new police chief with zero search for the best candidate for the union endorsement. I wonder how that’s going to work now that Moccia’s buddy old Harry is running. Also another example would be how the Republican Moccia and his rubber stamp Republican police commission allows the out of control police overtime on the backs of the taxpayer to keep the police union happy .
    On the other hand you have the sanitation union who didn’t kiss up to Moccia and he got rid of them. Odd isn’t it how one union has unlimited overtime and we cant afford basic hours for the other.
    I am a life long democrat and I am anti union especially municipal unions as they are money hungry swine.

  9. Frankie_Boy

    Are you people serious? Rilling is smart enough to be nice to his boss, and that rules him out as a viable candidate? Guess that’s why so many of you love Moccia- we’re his bosses and he treats us all pretty rudely.

  10. M. Murray

    Why would the Democrats want to elect someone who can work with members of the Republican Party and get things done when they can elect someone who plays strictly partisan politics and create havoc just to say they are keeping their loyalty oath to the Democratic Town Committee? Why elect someone who will be above party politics with proven leadership?

  11. YourDaddy

    Only in Norwalk. Rilling v. Moccia is what it would have been like if Dick Cheney stepped down as VP, changed to be a Democrat and ran against George W. Bush for President.

  12. NorwalkLifer

    I love the people on here trying to say this shows Harry is bipartisan. No, no. Actually it shows he’s a Republican and trying to run as a Democrat simply because he sees it as his best road to another paycheck.
    Why support Dick in 2011, only to run against him in 2013? What has changed Harry?

  13. NorwalkVoter

    Interesting that Delia has been put up to mouth the mantra of the DTC Chair. “The real Democrats”! The DTC Chair created chaos in the party with this argument when she was on the Council and now she asks Delia to dig it up again. I suspect Delia has no idea of what she has resurrected. There is a reason why so many Democrats are no longer participating in the Council Democratic Caucus. There is a reason why Democrats feel no loyalty to this DTC or its leadership. Delia may not want to dirty her hands with this mess. The DTC Chair is an architect of chaos and her followers are on the road to distruction of the party. Be careful what you wish for.

  14. LWitherspoon

    What did Rilling write on his DTC candidate questionnaire? How does it compare to what the other candidates wrote?

  15. R. Burnett

    @Norwalk Lifer: Many things can change in two years that could send a person’s loyalty in another direction. I recommend you ask Harry yourself next time you see him – or are you always going to hide under a false news.

    Tim T: You hate the NPD and all the officers. Wonder why that could be??? Anyway, all organizations have personnel problems but great leadership makes the difficult decisions to deal with them. Rilling fired the officers you cite in your biased comment and he took harsh disciplinary action in other cases when it was needed.

  16. M. Murray

    Shouldn’t the DTC release all those questionnaires to the public so they can see what the candidates stand for?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @M. Murray
      We have requested them, but the DTC has not decided whether to release them. Stay tuned.

  17. LWitherspoon

    @M. Murray
    Yes, they should. Transparency demands it. We deserve to know where every candidate stands on those important issues.

  18. LWitherspoon

    The DTC should release them, and then challenge Mayor Moccia to answer the same questions in writing.

  19. Tim T

    R. Burnett

    I always find it comical when someone critiques the failure of a police department that some blow hard attempts to attack the credibility of the one doing the critiquing by saying something such as
    “You hate the NPD and all the officers. Wonder why that could be??
    Which is actually attempting to infer that the person doing the critiquing has some sort of criminal past? Let me be very very clear with you I have NO criminal past, not even a speeding ticket. What you have done by your lame attempt to attack my credibility is actually diminish your own by proving you have NO facts to support your ”opinion”.
    You say
    “Anyway, all organizations have personnel problems but great leadership makes the difficult decisions to deal with them”
    Yes that is true when it is a random isolated problem. When it is a wide spread problem as it has been with the NPD, I consider that a leadership problem.
    You say
    “Rilling fired the officers you cite in your biased comment and he took harsh disciplinary action in other cases when it was needed.”
    I don’t know how to break the news to you but most of these issues were uncovered by other departments and not the NPD. The one that I see as being uncovered by the NPD is the Officer Ouellette issue. Officer Ouellette has been the highest paid city employee for several years. Do you consider the benefit of overtime as “took harsh disciplinary action”? I certainly do not. Also you state that my views are bias. How are facts bias???
    I am sorry that the truth seems to offend you , but the truth is the truth.

  20. Peter I Berman

    Just maybe in an imperfect world we should vote for candidates based on what they plan to do if elected and perceived abilities to fulfill their campaign promises. Who among us is beyond reproach ? Just maybe a candidate will emerge foxing on what needs to be one to end punitive taxes, declining home values and the “for sale” sign exodus from our City.
    But so far the 4 candidates see other areas of concern. Another lost opportunity for Norwalk’s beleagured Democrats.

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