Ch-Ch-Ch Changes. Turn and face the strain. That stuttering chorus by David Bowie may well be in the heads of dozens of city employees wondering about their employment future. Who’s staying? Who’s going? Who’s arriving?
Mayor’s Office? Police Department? Public Facilities? Labor Relations? Chief Administrative Office?
Mayor Joe Ganim is expected to roll out some specific personnel decisions next week as a new four-year term approaches in about 10 days. For some discretionary appointees of the mayor that Thanksgiving bird won’t be the cause of the holiday agita.
Others will say phew!
One of the prominent moves Ganim’s expected to make is elevating Labor Relations Director Janene Hawkins to chief administrative officer, a position that oversees department heads.
Ganim survived a scare this election cycle that he had never experienced before as mayor. Elected in 1991, Ganim did not have a primary in the next four election cycles as an incumbent, blowing through the general election with roughly 80 percent of the vote. One of the hallmarks of Ganim’s decade-long popularity was the strength of his department heads.
A 2003 conviction on public corruption charges forced him from office. In a remarkable comeback, voters returned him to office in 2015.
A solid piece of the electorate had changed in 12 years. In some ways, Ganim was time-warped in his perceived popularity. After implementing a revaluation of taxable property that was put off by his predecessor, the tax bite in some neighborhoods set off prehistoric noises.
Within a year he was running for governor, with a dubious record to run on, that seemed more like a system discharge from his anticipated run for governor in 2002 that never materialized.
Many voters were bewildered. Ganim was mauled across the state in a primary run against Ned Lamont. He only won Bridgeport, but even that showed some serious storm clouds. Lamont carried a number of precincts, particularly in Marilyn Moore’s 22nd State Senate District.
Moore entered the race for mayor in January 2019. Although Ganim started paying attention to home cooking, he didn’t see the brewing anger in some neighborhoods. On September 10 Moore won a close primary race at the polls, but fell to the political establishment’s absentee ballot operation.
The general election was a different story with Moore as a write-in candidate lacking a ballot line. After the primary scare Ganim took nothing for granted in the general election. He won handily.
He cannot afford to take anything for granted in his second term. He must pay attention to city business. Part of that includes a restructuring of government, both in the short and long term.
Next week a new picture will begin to emerge.
Meanwhile, some city employees will load up on antacids waiting for the news.