With great passion during Norwalk Democratic Town Committee nominating convention on July 25, committee chairman Mark J. Bradley said, “For the last five years, we have watched the mayor neglect education, ignoring students and parents offering help, transporting dirt from one place to another. It is time for a change. It is time to say no more,” and the 100 attendants to the convention at the Hilton Garden Inn on Main Avenue agreed with fervor. Then, the nominations took place.
At the convention were former mayors Alex A. Knopp and Bill Collins; state Reps. Bruce V. Morris and Christopher R. Perone; and state Sen. Bob Duff.
Andrew S. Garfunkel, endorsed by the Town Committee to run against Republican Mayor Richard A. Moccia in November, said that 10 years have passed since he accepted the nomination to be town clerk and on that day he had envisioned solving the needs of Norwalk residents by making government more efficient. Then, he said, he became a leader; now the Norwalk town clerk’s office is a model for town clerks throughout Connecticut.
After winning the convention’s support, Garfunkel said, “As I stand before you accepting the nomination for mayor of the city of Norwalk, I envision a brighter future for the city we love — the future that I envision will only be achieved by putting the needs of Norwalk residents first. Education will be my top priority. I will use the bully pulpit to forge partnerships to enhance academic opportunity and achievement. I will lobby our representatives in Hartford to increase the state funding the Norwalk system deserves.”
He said, “Safety is non-negotiable. As mayor, the Police Department will receive the necessary resources and funding during a budget cycle put an end to gun-related crime in Norwalk. We will begin a national search for a new chief of police. The search will be impartial and rigorous.”
Garfunkel also addressed the city’s infrastructure and promised a total reorganization of City Hall. “It is time to inspect and consider new ideas in how to streamline the city government,” he said.
Finally, he talked about bringing new jobs to Norwalk. “Norwalk needs to take a step to improve our approvals process and establish a coordinated communication process between the land use agencies, the Common Council, and the mayor’s office. Getting those projects going is necessary to grow jobs,” he said. “Just imagine working where you live.” He ended his speech by saying: “Norwalk, it is time for a change. It is time to get things done.”
Garfunkel was born in Norwalk and grew up there. He attended public schools and raised his two children in Norwalk as well. He attended the University of Bridgeport. He is an active member of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, the New England Association of Town Clerks, and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 74.
Prior to Garfunkel’s nomination, five candidates were nominated to run for Common Council: Warren Peña, Yvonne Rodriguez, Anna Duleep, Sharon Steward, and Napoleon Harris.
Warren A. Peña, one of the nominees for Common Council, was born in Norwalk and attended public schools in the city. He graduated from Norwalk High. He studied business administration at Norwalk Community College, went to Northeastern University for legal studies and earned a CFP degree from Fairfield University. His family is from Nicaragua. He grew up in South Norwalk and works as a financial field director at the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.
“As a proud member of the Hispanic community,” he said, “I stand up for my principles. I am a Democrat even though my mother is a Republican.” He added that when he was growing up he received a great deal of help from mentors. “It is only now, during this campaign when I appreciate how important it is to speak two languages, I am able to be the voice of my fellows, and from now on I will be the bridge between the city government and my community. I am very thankful and feel great that from 35 Democratic members, 27 gave me their vote.
“I had found that in Norwalk we do not have leaders, I want to be that leader, I want to be able to help my people.”
Two other members of the Hispanic community were endorsed as well: Yvonne Rodriguez was nominated in absentia since she was in Puerto Rico due to her mother’s illness; and Migdalia Rivas, from District B, who is running for the Board of Education unopposed.
The other candidates were as follow:
District A: David Watts and Matt Miklave
District B: Carvin Hilliard and Mike Geake
District C: Amanda Brown and Taber Hamilton
District D: Bruce Kimmel and Lynne Moore
District E: John Ignieri and Nora King
Board of Education candidates:
District A: – Rosa Murray
District B: Migdalia Rivas
District C: Kevin Poruben
District D: Greg Burnett
District E: Mike Barbis
Town Clerk: David Jaeger
City Sheriff: Vinny Mangiacopra
City Treasurer: Steve Serasis