Noon Update: Town Clerk Alma Maya reports 756 absentee ballots had been returned to her office by Friday morning. Maya’s office has been swamped with absentee ballot work, meowing from a variety of candidates running in Tuesday’s primary and media knuckleheads like me asking for information. To Maya’s and Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala’s credit, they’ve both been responsive to OIB requests for information.
With a couple of days left before the Tuesday primary it appears her office will receive nearly 1000 absentee ballots, the goal of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa who’s supporting Mayor Bill Finch. State statute provides her office with authority over processing of absentee ballot applications and the issuance of the actual ballots. They are returned to her office and then in the early evening of primary night her office will turn them over to Ayala’s office, per regulation, for the actual vote count of the ballots.
Maya says the majority of absentee ballot action is coming from the East Side districts 137 and 138. Yes indeed, the 137th District is home to the city’s absentee ballot queen City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez who faces a spirited primary challenge from mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster’s slate. Lydia, for years, has hosted a tempting I-do-for-you, you-do-for-me operation for her constituency. She wines and dines them, escorts them to community affairs and at the end of the gig, lo and behold, out pops absentee ballot applications for “my peoples” to fill out. Does this cross the line? Of course. But you gotta catch her in the act. And then if they need help filling out the actual absentee ballot, Lydia will more than oblige, damn state law that forbids her from doing so. But “my peoples, my peoples” need help, she protests. Lydia has been well schooled through the years and she’s added a touch of her own. So it goes in city politics.
The 138th District is home to the East Side Thomas Hooker and JFK Campus precincts where Finch and his 2007 primary opponent Chris Caruso ran just about even. Most of the AB action in that district appears to be in the JFK precinct. If there’s one precinct the mayor wants a solid showing it would be JFK, named for his political idol. The mayor should come away with a handsome absentee ballot lead come primary day. Most of the absentee ballot pros are supporting him. The larger question is how close can the Foster forces stay to the Finch AB operation? And where can she cut into Finch on the primary day machines?
One area to watch is the Roosevelt School precinct, home to South End voters, where Finch defeated 2007 primary opponent Chris Caruso. The turnout was just 17 percent. The Foster forces have registered more than 100 University of Bridgeport students this week. Roosevelt is the territory of District Leader Mitch Robles, a Finch supporter. Mitch has a mighty good track record for winning his district. What Mitch cannot control is an energized student voting populous. If Foster’s operation can drag the kids to Roosevelt School, a few blocks from the campus, Roosevelt will be in play for Foster. Seaside Village, a cool community hamlet near Seaside Park, Marina Village housing project and a small portion of downtown residents also vote there.
There’s some confusion out there, as always, about where folks vote. If you want to know check out this site from the Registrar of Voters Office: www.bridgeportct.gov/RegistrarofVoters/Pages/districtlookup.aspx
Stay tuned as we head toward Tuesday.