The four-person race for the Democratic nomination in for Norwalk mayor will come to an end after the votes from the Sept. 10 primary are counted.
Before you cast your votes Tuesday, get to know the candidates--former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel, Democratic Party District D Chair Vinny Mangiacopra, Common Council member Matt Miklave and former Police Chief Harry Rilling--a little better with the following Q&A prepared with assistance from the Norwalk League of Women Voters.
Q: On a personal level, what life experiences have you had that have prepared you for becoming the mayor Norwalk needs now?
Andy Garfunkel: I served as Norwalk's town clerk for 10 years, and successfully worked with my staff to make that office customer-focused. I've also been an active volunteer in many Norwalk organizations. I currently serve on the Board of the Norwalk Seaport Association, and have volunteered time to many other Norwalk organizations over my lifetime of service to the community, from serving as PTO President at Wolfpit School, to a volunteer with Pop Warner Football, a trustee at the Norwalk Senior Center, and a mentor in the Norwalk public schools, to name a few. Anyone who has served with me in those organizations knows I'm invested in our community. I don't take a ceremonial role, join to get publicity or look for the "photo-op." I get in the trenches and get the job done, and that's what Norwalk needs in a mayor right now.
Vinny Mangiacopra: I have had to fight hard for my accomplishments. I come from a rough neighborhood -- where many of my friends didn't make it to college. Working my way through high school, college and graduate school, I know first hand what the working class is going through. There are a lot of folks trying to make it in the middle class. I get their struggles on a personal level and will be the kind of mayor who focuses on their priorities -- because they are my priorities.
Matt Miklave: I was a poor kid from a small Connecticut town growing up. We learned first hand the difference between needs and wants and "nice-to-haves." We were taught that adversity was something you did not complain about. It was something you simply triumphed over. I went to public school and had some teachers who saw some problems and some promise. They helped me overcome the problems. And they nurtured the promise. When the road got too long or too steep, sometimes they had to give me a good kick in the butt to get me on my way. I went to college, where I earned some honors, and was lucky enough to get into Notre Dame Law School. College searches were different then. I went to Notre Dame sight unseen. I packed everything I owned into the back of a 1976 Olds Omega and drove 800 miles to get to Notre Dame. There, I found my profession, my faith and my calling. The lessons I learned at Notre Dame -- the reward of hard work, the duty we have to demand economic and social justice, and the obligation we have to each other-- I carry those lessons with me every day of my life.
Q: What professional qualifications and experience do you have that will equip you to perform the job of mayor of a city of 86,000 people?
Garfunkel: My service as town clerk and my experience as a small-business owner running my own contracting business makes me uniquely qualified to be mayor. I've seen the operations of City Hall from the inside -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- and successfully brought my department into the 21st century through the effective use of technology. As a small-business owner I've dealt with the issues that all small-business owners do, and have managed projects and seen them through to conclusion. There's something to be said for building something with your hands; seeing a tangible result of your efforts. We need a mayor who understands cause and effect. If we invest wisely in our schools and student performance improves, that's tangible. If we implement an effective economic development plan and businesses move to Norwalk and grow our tax base, that's tangible. That's the kind of focus I'll bring to the mayor's office.
Mangiacopra: Over a decade ago, I decided to dedicate my career to public service. Working in a Mayor's office, leading a department of economic development, holding a Master's Degree in City Management and starting my own business give me a great foundation for success. But it is the intangible value of team building, leading by example and the willingness to take on the tough battles that equip me to lead. I am eager to represent all residents of Norwalk and build the best team to make the promise of Norwalk's future a reality that much quicker
Miklave: I have served for eight years on the Common Council, held the chair of the Planning Committee, and was elected by my peers to be Council President. As chair of the Planning Committee, I played a leading role in the successful construction of Maritime Yards and the Maritime Garage, complete with a substantial on-site workforce housing component. I led the effort to reform the performance appraisal system for Senior City staff. I led the effort to adopt targeted tax breaks for the disabled. And as Council President and Committee Chair, I made sure that every decision made under my watch was done in the open and citizens had ample opportunity for input and feedback. I am also a nationally recognized labor and employment attorney, a leader in my field, and have worked with employers and businesses for almost 30 years. As one of the owners of a nationally-based law firm, which employs 1,000 employees in 10 cities across the United States, I have had to learn the hard way how to build and manage a business, and what it takes to succeed in difficult economic times.
Q: Please describe what you feel is your main strength and what you feel is a weakness?
Garfunkel: I've been told that my main strength is that I'm genuine. I also believe that I'm approachable and well-organized, which are essential attributes for a good mayor. As for a weakness, some say that I accept too much input from others. I accept that, but I do believe that it's important to gather and evaluate all available information in order to make a good decision.
Mangiacopra: I come from a place where making it in the middle class was not only a dream -- but the only way out. As a small businessman, the husband of a teacher and a homeowner, there is an urgency that I bring to the seat of mayor that is unparalleled. My generation has recognized long ago that we need to be prepared to do more with less and therefore we must constantly look for ways to improve in a smarter, more efficient way. My generation is looking to get the job done, concerning less with the business of the past but geared towards tirelessly looking for the solutions of the future
Miklave: One of my biggest limitations--especially in politics-- is that I do not lie. I tell people what I believe to be true whether they like it or not. When I appear before groups who want the city to spend more money to help them address very legitimate needs, I cannot simply say "sure-- I'll do that." I have to honestly tell them that we do not have an unlimited ability to tax our citizens to fund every program or provide every support. Many people do not like it when I tell them the hard truth, as I see it.
One of my strengths is my ability to think "outside of the box" and to develop complex ideas to tackle the issues we face. One example is my views on Performance Based Budgeting. I have made PBB a central theme of my campaign -- not because it is a good campaign theme. (My advisors and opponents tell me that talking about budgets is boring and people's eyes glaze over.) I talk about PBB because it works. Sixteen other cities across the United States, numerous counties, the State of Washington and even Canada have embraced PBB as a way of doing more with the resources we already have without raising taxes. I have an arsenal of "outside the box" ideas -- and I have tried to talk about them at every stage of this campaign. I think people appreciate that skill and I think it will make me a good mayor.
Q: What have you learned about Norwalk in the process of campaigning for mayor? Have you learned anything that surprised you?
Garfunkel: Both in my 2011 campaign and again this year, I've gained an even deeper understanding of and appreciation for the diversity of our community. Norwalk is a special place because of its diversity. Everyone faces challenges on a daily basis and there are common themes across the board. Everyone wants a good job, a safe and welcoming neighborhood to live in, good schools for their children and to improve their quality of life. Norwalk should be able to provide that to all its residents. Collectively, we can do it. I've been surprised by the cynicism people have about the election process. Norwalkers are jaded because politicians promise them everything and deliver very little. We should expect, and demand, more from our elected officials.
Mangiacopra: One of the great things about campaigns is that you get to go out and walk the neighborhoods. Over the past eight months we have touched every corner of Norwalk and my main takeaway is: We have a beautiful city filled with kind people. The people of Norwalk want the best for their city, but they are frustrated. They get frustrated with the business as usual ways of getting things done.
What has somewhat surprised me a bit is the overwhelming support for change in Norwalk. As we have worked hard and campaigned more and more Norwalkers believe that it's time for a new generation of leadership to take the reins -- to create a new culture in City Hall. One that is more responsive to the people's needs and less ingrained in the political insiders club.
Miklave: Norwalk is a tale of two cities -- different in many, many ways but with a common bond uniting us. On the same day during the spring, I was campaigning door-to-door on Ely Avenue and on Bell Island -- two dramatically different parts of our City. Yet, the people that live in both neighborhoods talked about the same concerns, had the same fears and shared the same hopes for our future. That experience has been repeated more times than I can express. We are truly one city and our path forward must be based on common ground.
Q: Name two distinct ways that you will seek public participation throughout the year beyond items that require a public hearing. More broadly, what is your opinion about the role of the citizen in Norwalk?
Garfunkel: As mayor, I will organize neighborhood and community Town Hall meetings and community blogs on the city's webpage. The mayor's main job is to represent Norwalk's citizens. In order to do that effectively, you have to listen to what they have to say, come up with a plan and execute it. I will also establish the Mayor's Civic Leadership Academy, which will run for eight weeks three times a year. The Academy will foster the development of a new generation of civic activists by promoting an understanding of the operation of municipal government, the political process and community awareness. The role if the citizen in Norwalk is invaluable, but we have to engage our citizens in a way that will dispel their cynicism and encourage them to get involved in a productive way.
Mangiacopra: I intend to: 1. Hold monthly community, Town Hall style meetings, rotated throughout the city. This will allow us to have a continued dialogue as a community and not just in tough decisions. 2. Broadcast all city meetings live online. By broadcasting all of our meetings we will be able to hold those that serve more accountable, ensure they participate and give more people an opportunity to see how Norwalk is working for them. 3. Hold weekly community update/podcast highlighting business of the week, what we are working on and things to come. This direct form of communication will also allow for interviews and updates with other elected officials, community stakeholders and department heads so we can begin to start having local government connect better.
Miklave: As part of my effort to implement PBB, I am going to engage in an extensive community outreach to give all stakeholders a voice in setting budget priorities for Norwalk. We will have to make difficult choices about our priorities. I will invite appointed and elected officials to participate in that priority setting process. But I will also invite private citizens, community organizations, neighborhood associations and community advocates to do so as well. We will use town hall meetings, internet-based surveys, public opinion research, social media and other techniques to give a voice to each of our 86,000 neighbors who wants to play a role.
In addition, I also plan to meet regularly with citizens to hear their views. I spent four months this spring and summer going door-to-door. We knocked on over 1,500 doors and communicated with more than 2,300 voters. I plan to continue that effort after I am elected. Imagine what people will say when the mayor of the city knocks on their door just to ask, "How are we doing? How can we help?"
Harry Rilling: Just like my "Meet the Chief" nights out in the community, you'll have an opportunity every month to "Meet the Mayor" at different locations and times to ensure that each citizen has an opportunity to be heard. I will bring his department heads too, so your concerns and questions can be addressed on the spot by those responsible for managing the city.
I know that Norwalkers are tired of being disrespected by their own government for simply disagreeing. Under my administration, incivility will not be tolerated and only candidates who listen to and respect the opinions of others will be appointed to Boards and Commissions. The city's government must work to serve the citizens of Norwalk.
Q: All candidates have said they want to improve Norwalk's schools. Specifically, what will you do to improve our schools if elected, and how will you do it?
Garfunkel: I will improve our schools by maintaining a singular focus on the education our students are receiving, but within our means. That must be our focus. We must give the school administration the space to do the jobs for which they are responsible, but at the same time we must hold our administrators accountable for tangible results. As mayor, I will encourage the hiring of additional grant writers to obtain grants to supplement our school budget and will work with our local businesses to encourage partnerships that enrich the educational experience for our students. I will also work with our legislative delegation and directly with Hartford to make sure that Norwalk receives its fair share of educational funding from the state.
Mangiacopra: Here is my 10-point plan on education:
1. Have the mayor be the chief advocate for our schools in Hartford.
2. Prioritize focus on Early Childhood Education so that all Norwalk kids are prepared to go to kindergarten.
3. Bring a Boys and Girls Club to Norwalk that offers additional after school programs and tutoring.
4. Fully implement Common Core Standards.
5. Revamp the Summer Youth Employment Program
6. Reinstate intramural sports for our middle school kids, take care of our recreation fields, and support the Norwalk High School marching bands.
7. Use the mayor's office to promote the proud achievements of our schools and students.
8. Work in concert with Norwalk ACTS to promote the collaboration of all of our education stakeholders.
9. Work with Norwalk Community College to offer more opportunities and facilitate Norwalk's high school graduates' transition to higher education.
10. Ensure our schools' libraries are considered and treated as fundamental to our children's education.
Miklave: I have bold plans to help Norwalk schools get our kids ready for the 21st Century economy by focusing on STEM literacy (science, technology, engineering and math) and recognizing that STEM will impact every single job in America in the new economy. But clearly any bold initiatives will have to wait for a time while we get our fiscal house in order. The debacle of the Board of Education budget last year still haunts us. And, in my opinion, the focused operational review which showed that the BOE underpaid the City Insurance Fund between $1 and $2 million dollars a year for four consecutive years raised more questions than it answered. I want to focus on bringing integrity back to the budget process -- implementing performance based budgeting and making sure the numbers we are getting are solid numbers. Only when we achieve a basic level of confidence that the "books are right" can we access what additional funds will be needed to meet our kids' educational needs.
Rilling: I think that our children are entitled to an education that will prepare them for life's challenges, and I take it as a personal responsibility to make sure that teachers, parents and kids have the resources they need to be successful. The new superintendent of schools faces many challenges and needs the full support of the mayor. I will work closely with Dr. Rivera to ensure that our kids get the education and support they deserve. I am committed to fully implementing the Common Core Curriculum on schedule, and fully funding the Board of Education: that doesn't mean just dolling out money because it is asked for, but reasonable budgets designed to bring the latest technology to our schools and to improve our overall infrastructure.
Q: All candidates have said they want to reduce crime in Norwalk. Specifically, what will you do to reduce crime if elected, and how will you do it?
Garfunkel: Number one, we need more neighborhood beat cops and community-based youth programs. However, we cannot combat the crime problem alone anymore, we must be willing to reach out to outside organizations and partner with other neighboring communities to tackle this issue. Recognizing the importance of this problem, I will create a Public Safety Task Force, which will meet once a month and be chaired by the mayor. The Task Force will include student representatives from our high schools, first responders, community and religious leaders, and representatives from our business community, non-profits and neighborhood groups. On a monthly basis, we will assess where there are problems and where we've collectively had successes, and work collaboratively on our public safety issue.
Mangiacopra: I want to use the platform of the mayor's office as a conduit between the community and our law enforcement. The trust needs to be strengthened which is why I have called for more community policing presence so we get back the basics of relationship building. To help keep our youth off of the streets I have championed bringing a Boys and Girls club to our city. With the YMCA closing last year, it created another void for our young people. I will work closely with our police department and work with them to ensure they have the resources they need to keep our community safe. The open and honest dialogue is important so that when people in our community see something, they say something. We have an obligation to take illegal guns off of the streets and I will institute a stronger, practical gun buyback program.
Miklave: I have long advocated community-based policing and the hiring of additional police officers. We need to get as many of our police as we can out of their cars and onto the street where we can stop crime from happening before it occurs. I am pleased to see the current police chief take steps to improve community-policing. I think those steps are long overdue.
Rilling: As the former Norwalk police chief for 17 years, I know what it takes to reduce crime and make the citizens of Norwalk feel safe. Throughout my tenure as a police chief I learned the importance of varied and innovative policing tactics -- in addition to more officers -- to keep up with our growing population.
But you can't arrest your way out of a crime problem. Research shows clearly that the most effective method of dealing with a crime problem is providing opportunities for young people. I will fight for continuation of Head Start, the expansion of mentoring programs and after-school programs, exploration of Universal Pre K, full support for Norwalk ACTS, and apprenticeship programs in partnership with local trades and unions to ensure that every young person in Norwalk realizes their full potential without the hopelessness and resignation that lead kids to turn to crime.
Q: All candidates have said they want to improve the business climate in Norwalk. Specifically, what will you do to encourage business growth if elected, and how will you do it?
Garfunkel: Our top priority has to be to make sure our existing businesses stay and grow in Norwalk. I would actively pursue Community Block Grants for the areas of the city where we have existing but underperforming neighborhood businesses and show/entice developers that Norwalk is the next big development mecca in Connecticut
Mangiacopra: The first thing I want to do is begin monthly development service meetings with all departments involved in our process. We want to make sure that everyone is on the same page, which is a criticism of the current administration. As Mayor, I plan on leading the charge on this. Our city also needs someone within city hall as a resource to business, which is why I have proposed establishing an economic development officer for Norwalk. It is a priority for the future vitality of Norwalk that we have a stern focus on cutting through red tape and giving developers/business owners the best opportunity to present strong applications to our land use boards. By doing this, we create a friendlier business environment that moves things along -- hyper focused on creating opportunity in Norwalk. For small business, I want to reconstitute a façade improvement program that will be geared towards enhancing continuity in various business zones. Stronger partnerships with small business and our Chamber of Commerce will allow us to leverage our collective assets to achieve greater community goals for the benefit of the future of Norwalk.
Miklave: I have outlined a comprehensive plan to build a series of economic accelerators to help local entrepreneurs and innovators grow jobs. I have repeatedly pointed out that historically 80 percent of all job growth in the United States comes from employers that employ fewer than 10 employees. Since 2008, 100 percent of all net new jobs have been created by employers that employ fewer than 10 employees. In Norwalk, our economic development efforts have focused exclusively on the kinds of buildings we are trying to build. I call this the "build it and they will come" mentality. It has not worked in over 25 years. We need to focus our efforts on helping small businesses grow the kinds of jobs we want to grow. If there are jobs in Norwalk, the private sector will build the buildings we need.
Q: What improvements, if any, would you make in the way Norwalk deals with property development, land use and open space? What changes in the structure of government may be needed to enact these improvements?
Garfunkel: As mayor, I will work collaboratively with our land use officials to streamline the permitting process, while making sure that we protect our neighborhoods and overall land use plan. The mayor's office will take an active role in facilitating major projects and acting as a point of contact should the existing system not work as it should. Just as any resident of Norwalk should feel free to pick up the phone and call the mayor, an existing or new business seeking to move here should feel free to do the same.
Mangiacopra: I will certainly seek to improve the caliber of appointments on land use Boards by seeking individuals with more neighborhood leadership experience and by ensuring that appointees stay out of politics.
The mayor's office should be a catalyst for promoting economic development and improvements. As previously mentioned, Norwalk needs an economic development officer that is in city hall to be on the side of the business or prospective business. The vision I see for Norwalk is one that develops smart with conservation and public enhancements in mind. That is why I will be an advocate for making Norwalk a more walk and bike friendly city. Our zoning regulations need to be modernized so that parking requirements do not hinder our future growth. Making Norwalk a destination that people can spend time and recreate in will grow business and have many other multiplier effects.
In addition, I am very concerned about the current status of Norwalk's ongoing town wide reassessment, which will significantly affect 2014 tax bills for residents and businesses. There has not been enough public discussion about this revaluation and citizens need to understand what is happening and how the process works for citizens to provide information this coming autumn.
Miklave: While I favor revisiting the structure of Norwalk's government to make local planning and zoning more accountable to the citizens of the city, I have not committed to any particular structural changes. I would be willing to call for a charter revision commission to investigate proposed changes.
Q: Considering the shoreline damage and flooding Norwalk has suffered from major storms in recent years, and the newly revised FEMA flood map, what will you do if elected to reduce the risk of future damage and flooding?
Garfunkel: This is a challenging issue, because it looks as if this will be an ongoing challenge. New FEMA maps just became effective in July, and many of our residents are still recovering from Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. I would strongly encourage changes to our land use regulations in our flood-prone areas which will make the area's Base Flood Elevation the point from which we measure the height of structures, etc., and bring all structures in our flood-prone areas up to current standards as they are renovated or replaced. By revising our regulations in that way, we will increase the safety of our residents and decrease the risk of property damage and loss going forward.
Mangiacopra: My first priority will be to work closely with area communities and the Southwest Planning Agency to build on efforts to mitigate potential future storm damage. It is imperative that we involve our federal officials to seek more grant funding for projects to protect coastal areas and I will be able to do this. The storms of the past year have shaken the entire coast and it is high time that more focus is placed on strengthening and preserving barriers and dunes and tide gates to better protect neighborhoods from flooding. Our development plan must take into account impact on runoff and on the potential for flooding. I will safeguard natural wetlands and improve our storm water systems and seek more permeable materials in coastal areas.
Miklave: We should encourage all new developments to consider the impact of global warning and climate change as part of their development plans. We learned a great deal as a result of recent storms. I would be in favor encouraging new developments to "hard wire" infrastructure to be more resistant to storm damage, build community "recharging" stations for public access during an emergency, and see that each development has a suitable space that can be converted to an emergency shelter for the next major disruption.
Q: Norwalk's mayor has the responsibility of appointing citizens to our boards and commissions (Board of Estimate & Taxation, Zoning Commission, Conservation Commission, etc.). What improvements, if any, would you make to this process in order to attract and appoint the best people to help govern our city?
Garfunkel: When considering appointments, I will select the best candidate available for each position. I will have no litmus test. When filling a position, attributes I will look for include a sincere willingness to serve, an understanding of our city and relevant experience.
Mangiacopra: By opening up our government with more opportunities for communication, we will begin to see more of our citizens seeking to get involved and have their voices heard. That is my sincere hope. As mayor, I want to make sure that I am fostering an environment that allows any willing citizen the opportunity to be part of public service. However, it is dually imperative that we solicit committed professionals that are willing to give back as well. Our boards and commissions are vital to our function as a city and as we continue to try to do more with less, it becomes even more important to attract experienced professionals.
Miklave: I will actively recruit from the rich and diverse talent-base in all of Norwalk's neighborhoods. We are blessed with nationally recognized leaders and thinkers. Yet, we keep seeing the "same faces" being appointed to boards, commissions and other posts. The talent is out there. We just have to go out and recruit it.
Q: How familiar are you with Norwalk's City Charter? In what specific ways, if any, do you feel changes are needed to this important city document?
Garfunkel: As former town clerk I am quite familiar with the City Charter and its updates. As mayor, I would immediately seek the appointment of a Charter Revision Commission to accomplish the following: (1) consolidate or eliminate boards or commissions with overlapping jurisdiction; (2) make mayor, town clerk and Common Council four-year terms, with staggered terms for Council; (3) reduce the size of the Council by eliminating two at-large positions; (4) establish term limits for mayor and Common Council; (5) merge the city and town clerk positions into a single position; and (6) eliminate the do-nothing positions left from colonial times (Selectmen and City Treasurer).
Mangiacopra: The city charter is what governs our local home rule. I do believe that it is time that we have a meaningful discussion on revising and modernizing our charter to better serve our constituents. First, I believe that both the police and fire commissions need to be expanded. As currently constituted, only two people serve with the mayor on each of these very important boards. I would like to see them expanded to at least five members to ensure diversity both by race, economics and gender. I feel that this is a very important measure that needs to be taken. Second, the term for mayor should be expanded to four years. This isn't just coming from the politician's mouth; this is something that is sought after by our business community and many others that feel strongly it is hard to get things done in two years. Change is hard but often necessary. When our business community and other stakeholders feel that a four-year term for the city's chief executive would help lend stability to our climate, I will be fierce in championing and advocating alongside them.
Miklave: I am very familiar with the City Charter, being a practicing lawyer and having served on the Common Council. There have been many proposals for charter revision over the years -- from a four-year term for mayor to making council members full-time paid positions. I am not committed to any particular charter changes and am skeptical of some of them. But I would like to consider charter revision to the extent it helps our zoning and planning boards be more responsive to the needs of the electorate.
Q: Who are your role models? Whose example inspires and guides you in general and in politics?
Mangiacopra: Being in politics was never a lifelong ambition. I was never in the student government or the debate team, but knowing that it was public servants, teachers, who helped me get on a good track I was inspired to pay that forward by entering public service -- just not electoral. Those folks inspire me so much I will strive in my professional life to emulate the nature of their work. Hard work inspires me. Those that fought against the odds to make something of themselves and use it as a calling to help others are the kinds of things that have committed me to this life of public service. It is very easy to spot a self-serving politician a mile away but for me it's different. I want to use my God given abilities and talents to make a difference in my community. My family will always serve as role models to me because no matter what hurdle was tossed their way, they managed to keep food on the table and education at the forefront. If it weren't for the tenacity of my parents, I probably would never have sought the challenges I have in life thus far nonetheless be in the position to become the next mayor of the great city of Norwalk.
Garfunkel: My Father is my role model. He taught me integrity, simplicity, work ethic and patience. I also admire Walt Disney for his artistic talents, ingenuity, business acumen and focus on consumer satisfaction.
Miklave:My father remains one of my role models. He was a quiet man of great integrity. He served his country in the U.S. Army and landed at Anzio in World War II. (He never spoke much about Anzio. He had a hard time there.) He was a volunteer fire-fighter, assistant scout master, and regularly helped out at our local parish. He was also a teacher for the blind -- he developed the mobility program for the State Board of Education for the Blind -- helping the sightless live independently. He was far more quiet than I am and far more patient than I am.
I am also a big fan of John Adams. The son of a farmer, Adams became an accomplished trial lawyer, recognized for his advocacy. So great was his fame that he was asked to defend the soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre -- and won their acquittal. Yet, at the peak of his fame, he risked all that he had for a simple idea: that these colonies ought to be able to chart their own course. At the time, he could have been hanged, had his possessions seized and had his family ostracized. Without that courage, this nation may have never been. He may not be remembered as one of our greatest presidents. He remains one of our greatest Patriots.
Q: Hypothetically: If you were required to cast a vote in the September 10 Democratic primary and you were forbidden to vote for yourself, which one of your opponents would you vote for, and why?
I'd cast my vote for Matt Miklave--although we have differences of opinions and contrasting approaches to solutions, we both seem to share many of the same values and goals for the City of Norwalk.
Mangiacopra: Being in the heat of a long awaited, historic in nature campaign, this is a question only the voters can decide. My colleagues in the race are all good men but I believe that they have been too close to the system for too long. That's why I am running. Voters are faced with a decision on September 10th, a decision that will chart the course of Norwalk for years to come.
Miklave: Andy Garfunkle. I have known Andy for over a dozen years and I have run on the same ticket with him for five of the last six elections. He is a good man and we share a great many of the same values. Even though it was not politically popular, he immediately condemned the brawl at City Hall. That took a great deal of political courage. Courage counts a great deal in my book.
Q: What is the number one reason why Norwalk voters should choose you over your opponents in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary?
Garfunkel: I love Norwalk and have the experience and honesty to manage it well. I understand and relate to our hard-working families, because I am one of you. As your mayor, I am willing to work hard, as your mayor, to make Norwalk the best it can be for my family and for everyone in Norwalk.
Mangiacopra: This campaign has never been about me. This campaign has been about opening doors so that more voices are heard in our city. It's been about breaking down the barriers that the status quo, old boys network has erected for decades. This campaign has been about bringing fresh ideas that are going to modernize our city, make it more efficient, more affordable where kids get a great education, businesses thrive and people feel safe. This campaign, the first of its kind in 38 years is about making Norwalk what we know it can be. That opportunity presents itself on Sept. 10 and I am confident that when voters are faced with the choice of more of the same or a new generation of leadership, they are going to see that our way is best to move Norwalk forward.
Miklave: I am the only candidate with the experience, the ability and the vision to lead Norwalk forward. I have served for eight years on the Common Council, served as chair of the Planning Committee, and held the position of Council President. I have fought hard to reform our city and the way it does business. I know what works. But more importantly, I know what has not worked and I know how to fix it. There is no learning curve to a Miklave Administration. Reform begins on day one.