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Democrats Take Resident Questions at NEON Town Hall

Mayoral candidates open up on housing, crime, social services

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Norwalk, CT | Added on August 01, 2013 At 12:54 AM

Several dozen South Norwalk residents got their chance to grill three of Norwalk's candidates for mayor Wednesday night.

Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) hosted a community town hall forum at Nathaniel Ely School. 

Harry Rilling, Matt Miklave and Vinny Mangiacopra were all on hand; Mayor Richard Moccia and former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel did not attend.

The three spent most of the night alternating answers to questions submitted by the audience.  One of the most pressing topics was cleaning up crime.

Former police chief Rilling hypothesized a system that would divide the city into four quadrant neighborhoods, with each getting its own community police officer.

"Leaders have been calling for community policing for a long time," said Mangiacopra.  "The relationships [with officers] needed to be better years ago."

"A cop who knows the people, the places, the things they do and when they do them -- they stop crime," Miklave added.

NEON is just one of various social services available in Norwalk, but residents and candidates agreed the city must do a better job making those services more widely accessible.

"We need to have technical assistants helping these nonprofit organizations," Miklave said.  "So they have the experts devoting tier time pro bono."

Rilling suggested the city needs a "health and housing commission."  Mangiacopra said to keep up with other municipalities, Norwalk needs a central department of social services.

When pressed on making affordable housing units more prominent, the three Democrats agreed zoning regulations must be changed.

"We need to change some of the loopholes," Mangiacopra said.  "Right now, we are giving developers an easy way out."

"We cannot allow developers to move housing for working families off-site," Miklave said.

Mangiacopra, Miklave, Rilling and Garfunkel, have until Aug. 7th to collect close to 800 signatures each to appear on the September primary election ballot.


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