On a night when all of Norwalk's Common Council candidates gathered to greet voters, it was mayoral candidates Harry Rilling and Richard Moccia that took center stage for the first time.
Rilling and Moccia met Wednesday night at the East Norwalk Association library for the first of several public forums the two will have before November 5th's general election.
More than anything, the two publicly discussed their platforms for running. Moccia, mayor since 2005, said he has moved the city in the right direction, particularly financially.
"We've made improvements in our parks, we've made improvements in our infrastructure, we've maintained our financial position," Moccia said.
Whereas Rilling stressed the need for changes in transparency, economic development and education.
"We need to focus on early intervention programs, so that our children are ready to go to school," he said.
Both said they want to see expansions to early childhood education.
"[We need] a solid measurement focus," Moccia said. "So we can measure the improvement as our children go from three and four years old up to fifth grade and continuing."
Rilling said Norwalk's schools should monitor students starting in pre-school and continuing through high school.
Rilling and Moccia also said they believe Norwalk's police department needs more officers. Currently the department is funded for 179 officers; both said they want that number somewhere in the 180s.
"There are people that don't feel safe. That's the reality," Rilling said. "If that is their perception, then that is the reality."
"Hopefully next year I can add more [officers], so we can have permanent officers for each middle school and more in the elementary schools," Moccia said.
Rilling and Moccia are scheduled to appear in two more debates in late October.