Norwalk's two candidates for mayor turned their focus to the city's Latino community Wednesday, during their second debate of the season at the South Norwalk Community Center.
During the debate, one clear theme emerged: Mayor Richard Moccia says his campaign has the programs in place to help Latinos. Harry Rilling says it's not enough.
"You need to be certain the city will be there for you, that the mayor will be sitting at the table with you," Rilling said.
Moccia maintained a perceived lack of programs and outreach was not reality.
"I've been doing these things, and I've been doing them for eight years," he said.
Rilling said he had "heard all too often" people of various cultures are intimidated of City Hall and cannot get the help they need.
Moccia called that statement "absolutely not true," saying City Hall is a "warm, welcoming place."
The pair were quizzed on nohow they would foster more city involvement from its Latino base -- Rilling said only 7 percent of Norwalk's boards and commissions seats are held by Latinos.
"That is unacceptable," Rilling said.
Rilling pledged to hold registration drives for people in the Latino community; Moccia said no matter how much outreach a mayor does, it needs to be reciprocated.
"We can reach out and ask people to come in, but they have to do it," the mayor said.
One resident pleaded for day laborers who are underpaid and mistreated, and asked how the city could support them.
Moccia suggested forwarding the workers' information -- including their names, where did they work and who was paying them -- to the mayor's office, which would in turn send it to Attorney General George Jepsen's office.
Rilling said that process would take too long.
"This will take months and months for the attorney general's office," he said. "You can get it done [in Norwalk], and you can get it done quickly."
Next up is an early morning debate at the Norwalk Inn Oct. 29.