NORWALK, Conn. Andy Garfunkel says it isn't scary but he really has no plans for the future now that his bid to become Norwalk's mayor is over. "I really was all about becoming mayor," he said. "That was my focus."
Garfunkel, Norwalks' town clerk for 10 years, is cleaning out his office now after losing to incumbent Richard Moccia in last week's election. The photos of his children and the newspaper stories about his local theater accomplishments are down and an order to paint the walls has been put in. People have been coming in to get pieces of the plant that has been there as long as he has, a gift from his mother.
Monday night, Garfunkel went to a professional job resource function in Westport.
"I'm sure that there's a lot of opportunities out there," he said. "I mean, the unemployment rate is pretty high, but I can probably put myself to work in many different ways. I have several past careers that I can always step into. I also don't want to jump at the first opportunity and find that it's not a good mix."
Last week, he and David Jaeger, who ran for town clerk and lost to Republican Rick McQuaid, cleaned out Democratic headquarters on Wall Street. Jaeger said he and Garfunkel might have won "with the momentum we had going, with another week or two."
Garfunkel said his campaign ran into problems "in the middle" when campaign manager Evonne Klein left. He agreed with Jaeger that the last two weeks were "amazing."
"The machine starts working as you get closer," he said, explaining that veteran campaign volunteers come out of the woodwork and get very busy. "All of a sudden you have to coordinate hundreds of people. It was just amazing to watch."
Garfunkel got 48 percent of the vote, giving Moccia the toughest reelection fight he has had. Coming that close gives Garfunkel reason to "kind of kick" himself and wonder what he might have done differently.
"Somebody said to me early on, you were probably two years too early," he said. "We weren't. Had we not put up this level of a campaign we wouldn't have won the council seats."
"That not having a plan B thing starts to come back and bite you," he added.
When Garfunkel took over as town clerk 10 years ago there were only three or four computers in the office. Everything was hand-tamped and things were written on little strips of paper. Now the office has been modernized, and he is happy he can give 100 percent to teaching McQuaid, since it isn't as if he lost an election to him. He is also proud of the 10 years of Norwalk history birth certificates, marriage licenses and other things that bear his name. It was an "incredibly unique career" that combined customer service and management and yet allowed him to put his personality stamp on the office.
"I come to work sometimes and I say, 'Yeah, I could have retired on this, but I need to reinvent every once and a while," he said.
Garfunkel said his staff has become like family and that leaving is "somewhat melancholy." He was hoping to take his packed boxes up the elevator and down the hall to the mayor's office, rather than out to his car, he said.
"I wouldn't change anything in the world," he said. "I have no regrets in what I did running for mayor. I put my heart and soul, I put 110 percent into it."
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