NORWALK, Conn. – Acknowledging that his nearly eight years in office have often been a challenge, Republican Mayor Richard Moccia said Tuesday he will seek a fifth term as the field of Democratic candidates lining up to run against him continues to grow.
Moccia, a former state sheriff and Republican Town Committee chairman, said he consulted with his wife, Barbara, his family, elected and party officials, and even mayors from other municipalities, such as Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, before making his decision to seek re-election.
“Ultimately, I felt the city was moving in a positive direction, and I wanted to continue to work to keep that momentum,” he said during an interview in his office Tuesday afternoon. “I think for the most part, people appreciate what we’ve tried to do. Yes, we’re a city with urban problems, but we’re not in the pits as some people have said.”
Some who have called Moccia’s leadership into question include three Democratic hopefuls vying to take over the office: Common Councilman Matt Miklave, former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel and District D Democratic Committee Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra. Garfunkel lost a tough race to Moccia in 2011.
A fourth Democrat, former Police Chief Harry Rilling, has made overtures that he intends to run, too, but he has not made a formal announcement.
At a campaign kickoff Tuesday evening in front of more than 75 friends, family and supporters, a feisty and emotional Moccia said he will not bow down to his critics.
“No elected official goes unscathed, but I chose to stand and fight, and I will seek re-election as mayor of Norwalk,” he said to thunderous applause in the ballroom of the Norwalk Inn & Conference Center.
He checked off a string of accomplishments during his tenure, including a 19 percent drop in violent crime in the first six months of 2012, an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, which compares favorably to Connecticut’s other large cities, and a high school graduation rate of 90 percent, which is the same as Stamford.
Continuing to work with the Board of Education to improve the city’s schools is one of his top priorities, along with adding three new police officers to the force.
“We have done what we’ve pledged to do,” said Moccia.