NORWALK, Conn. Daisy Franklin and Republican Mayor Richard Moccia agree: Reform is needed. Democratic candidate for mayor Andy Garfunkel agrees with Franklin that protests have a positive effect.
Franklin, a 55-year old Norwalker who has been unemployed for a year, was a vocal member of a protest Saturday outside the New Canaan home of General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, the first known Occupy Wall Street rally held in Fairfield County. "You have to do that kind of stuff even if you're scared or afraid," Franklin said.
What do Moccia and his challenger think about the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan?
"As with every generation, there are youth that are upset or have a perception of how government is being run," Garfunkel said. "I think it's great, the fact that they're expressing themselves and they're doing it in a mostly nonviolent way to get some points across, make people think about how society is being run and where our future lies."
Moccia agreed, to a point.
"I think Wall Street has given the demonstrators some ammunition as far as rewards when companies fail, big bonuses, things of that nature," Moccia said. "But on the other hand, you want to take into account the vast majority of the businesses that do things the right way." He says there are a lot of anti-capitalist fringe elements, people on the left who "really aren't interested in reform but are just interested in revolution."
"They certainly have a right to demonstrate, they're frustrated. But on the same token we still have a system that has provided well for many people." Moccia said the protesters are using the products of some of the companies they're complaining about to organize the protests. That includes iPhones and products made by AT&T and Microsoft, as well as all "the latest social networking" tools.
"No government is perfect, no system is perfect and not all businesses are perfect," he said. "But overall, our system has done pretty well over the years, and we'll get through this. I think some of the people down there are not of my ilk. I think they're too far to the left, but again, business has to reform. Wall Street has to reform a little bit. Self-government won't work without self-discipline."
Franklin said she had worked for Harrel Inc., which was on Fitch Street for 50 years before it went out of business a year ago. "Jobs is really the issue," she said. "Corporate greed is really the issue. My company is out of business." She blamed its demise on taxes. "A small company has to pay taxes, but a big company got bailouts or rebates and then they got rid of jobs as well," she said.
She has participated in only one other protest, singing Christmas carols in front of then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell's mansion. Franklin said, "Sometimes people say nothing gets done by doing that but a lot has been done, it's bringing awareness to people and their problems."