NORWALK, Conn. Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel became the official Democratic Party candidate for mayor Monday night at the group's convention in Norwalk. State Sen. Bob Duff made the nomination, saying Garfunkel will be a "great mayor for the city of Norwalk" with the "knowledge, energy, experience, and most importantly, the passion to be the chief executive."
Garfunkel did not mention incumbent Mayor Richard Moccia in his acceptance speech, but Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairman Marc Bradley threw some pointed barbs in a brief but fiery speech that opened the convention.
"We have a mayor over the last five years who has watched violence in our city escalate and say, 'Not a problem, I'm sleeping well,' just last week at his nominating convention ," Bradley said. "The people of South Norwalk aren't sleeping well when bullets are hitting on South Main . We've got to change things in this city."
Garfunkel echoed that sentiment. "Our neighborhoods need to be safe for all Norwalk residents," he said, later emphasizing the phrase "during each budget cycle" when he promised that the Norwalk police and other agencies would get the resources and funding needed to reduce gun-related crime. He also promised to begin a nationwide search for a new police chief during his first day as mayor.
"For the last five years we've watch a mayor neglect education," Bradley said. "This year he voted time and time again against budgets to support our children, support our schools it's time to say no more."
Garfunkel said he would lobby Hartford to get the "state funding the Norwalk school system deserves."
Duff said Garfunkel has "leadership, vision and a desire to work collaboratively with all points of view and that's why he is repeatedly the top vote getter for the city of Norwalk." Garfunkel said, "All Norwalk residents will be treated with the courtesy and respect that they deserve and inquiries will, in turn, receive timely responses."
He made some specific promises. "As I did in my office, I will eliminate unnecessary spending and require each department to use tax dollars more efficiently," Garfunkel said. "Clearly, it is time to investigate and consider new ideas on how to streamline our city government, which certainly includes a greater use of technology and perhaps a reorganization of City Hall."
Bradley said it was nice that his road had been paved, "But every time I leave South Norwalk to hop on 95 to go to work, I see a big pile of dirt. All I see them doing is moving dirt out, moving dirt in, and moving dirt out and moving dirt in. Five years we've been watching the mayor move dirt around."
"Norwalk needs to take a step to improve our approvals process and establish a coordinated communications process between the land use agencies, the Common Council and the mayor's office," Garfunkel said. "Getting those projects going is necessary to grow jobs just imagine the number of jobs that will be created during construction and just imagine the number of new jobs that will be available when the new businesses open. Just imagine working where you live."
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