When Democrats gather to endorse candidates for municipal office July 25 they will not do so at Testo’s Restaurant on Madison Avenue, for years the epicenter of city politics where Town Chairman Mario Testa habitually hosted scores of politicians and thousands of others for functions at his large catering hall destination.
It’s like booted from the confessional.
The restaurant was purchased last year by a developer who wants to erect nearly 200 units of market-rate housing opposed by many area neighbors citing density to the detriment of the North End. Municipal lawyers are crafting a legal opinion to determine if the project is a go or a no, per zoning regulations. Either way, it’s likely to end up in court.
Testa searched around the city landscape for a venue that can hold hundreds of gatherers, the town committee alone is 90 members. The former Holiday Inn Downtown had a large catering facility but that building is undergoing a conversion into housing that is expected to open soon.
Klein Memorial, Downtown Cabaret Theater, University of Bridgeport hall are all large enough, but then there’s the logistics of parking and seating, around respective tables, nine members per town committee district.
The chairman settled on Circolo Sportivo (aka the Italian Club) 2500 Park Avenue that checks the boxes for size, access and set up.
The mayoral endorsement is expected to go perfunctory, Joe Ganim poised for overwhelming support, a few outliers here and there. Will his three opponents Lamond Daniels, John Gomes and Marilyn Moore even attend for an obligatory waving of the flag?
The next morning, July 26, opposition teams are expected to hit the streets in a two-week search of more than 2,000 validated signatures of Democratic voters to qualify for a September 12 primary.
Dems on convention night will also endorse candidates for city clerk, town clerk, City Council, school board and sheriff positions.
Opponents are piecing together slates of candidates for the signature run and primary campaigning.
Team Ganim, taking nothing for granted, is door knocking in earnest in anticipation of a primary. Will one, two or three rivals qualify for the ballot?