Minutes after Harry Rilling, who served as Norwalk's police chief for 17 years, became the Democratic nominee for mayor Tuesday evening, Gov. Dannel Malloy said he would love to work with him on programs and funding to make sure Norwalk is moving forward.
"I want to say very clearly that if November turns out the way tonight is turning out that Norwalk's best days are in front of it, not behind it," said Malloy, who was joined by state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) and other Rilling supporters at the Hilton Garden Inn to congratulate Rilling.
Rilling received 1,703 votes or 51.2 percent of the total votes. Mangiacopra secured 781votes; Miklave got 501; and Garfunkel received 340.
"I have to tell you I have known Harry for a long time and I have admired his work in Norwalk throughout the period of time he was a policeman and chief of police," Malloy said.
"I know that he gets it. I know that he understands that there is a relationship between jobs, good policing and good schools and he is prepared to make sure they are properly funded, that they are properly led, that they are properly supported. He gets the big picture. He is a big picture guy."
Rilling will try to unseat Richard Moccia, who is seeking his fifth term as mayor. Moccia was first elected mayor of Norwalk in 2005 and re-elected in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Rilling acknowledged the mayoral race is "not going to be an easy fight."
"Today the voters have said its time for a change," Rilling said. "It's time for a new direction not only for the Democratic party but for the city of Norwalk. It is my humble honor to have been selected to represent the Democratic Party in November.
"We stayed on message and we kept positive through the whole thing. I can promise you we are going to stay on message and continue being positive."
He thanked his fellow Democrats for all they did for the party through their campaigns and he expressed gratitude for his campaign staff.
"No man is an island," Rilling said. "If you take a piece of thread and pull it it will break. But if you take a hundred pieces of thread and roll them together and try to break them they are going to be as strong as a piece of steel and each person in this room is a piece of thread in this campaign."
At the Norwalk Inn, Miklave congratulated Harry Rilling on running an excellent campaign and said he looks forward to an interesting contest in the fall.
"Harry and I had a good conversation and we have agreed to sit down and talk in the future," he said. "Hopefully we'll have a productive discussion.
"I'm a little disappointed in the turnout -- 15 percent of the Democrats registered to vote in Norwalk voted. I think that's unfortunate given the historic nature of the election and the important issues that the city is facing."
From his campaign headquarters Mangiacopra pointed out that no one expected him to come so far. He said that he was excited and proud of the campaign his team ran.
"It's not easy to bring this stuff home every day but I am fortunate to have found the love of my life 15 years ago back in high school," Mangiacopra said. "She didn't know what she was getting into when we signed up for this last winter. A man is only as strong as his family, and I wouldn't have gotten this far if not for the people who believed in me."
Garfunkel, who challenged Moccia in 2011, said that there are a lot of organizations and groups that he is still planning on working with in Norwalk.
"It is definitely not over for me in the city of Norwalk. I am a resident here and I will continue to be active on all different fronts.
"I didn't come into today thinking I was the front runner so this isn't as big a defeat as it was last time. It's unfortunate -- I kind of foresaw how things were going from the nomination process.
"I've learned over the last couple of months who some of my true friends are. I was surrounded by them tonight, my campaign staff, my friends. That makes this all worth it. I'm who I am. I ran my campaign the way I wanted to, on the issues that I wanted to deal with, and on the level that I wanted to deal with. I have integrity and a character that I will not compromise and make deals for."