Long-time City Sheriff Dennis Scinto, who presided over North End politics as Democratic leader of the 134th District, passed away on Tuesday, according to several political sources. He had fallen ill in recent days. He was 80 years old.
Scinto was a mainstay in city politics for decades serving as city sheriff for nearly 30 years. He retired this year as an employee of the department of Public Facilities where he managed the disposal of hazardous materials and for many years organized drop-off locations on the grounds of Blackham School for the public.
Scinto was an establishment figure in city politics, but every now and then he could show an independent side such as when he broke ranks and supported Marilyn Moore for state senate in 2014 over incumbent Anthony Musto. Moore won a hard-fought Democratic primary running up large pluralities in the city to offset Musto’s suburban base in Connecticut’s 22nd District.
Moore’s upset win was part of a series of victories for insurgents in city politics laying the groundwork for her leadership position in Hartford and her near-win of the mayoralty in 2019, losing a close primary to Mayor Joe Ganim.
Scinto spoke proudly of his extended service as city sheriff that ranks him among the longest-tenured in terms of duration to the two-year term of any city office. Scinto achieved a special milestone when he surpassed the 24 years of city service of legendary Socialist Mayor Jasper McLevy who served from 1933-57.
Statement from former State Rep. Chris Caruso:
I’ve known Dennis Scinto for about 35 years. After the death of longtime North End District Leader Richard Pinto, former State Representative Jackie Cocco asked Dennis to join the 134th Democratic Town Committee. We weren’t always on the same side politically, but we remained good friends. After all, we were North Enders. There were times when he would seek my advice such as Marilyn Moore’s second run for the State Senate in 2014. He asked me whether he and the 134th should support Marilyn. I told him he should. It would be a good choice. She won that year.
Dennis was furiously loyal to the City and the Democratic Party. He loved Bridgeport. He grew up here and knew a lot of people especially in the North End. He understood their issues and reminded the candidates he supported. He would often show up at zoning meetings to support the neighbors. Over the years, Dennis was instrumental in helping candidates get elected. In a good sense, he was an old-fashioned district leader who would personally knock on doors and make phones calls for the candidates he backed. Dennis helped a lot of people. He cared. He kept his word. He made a difference.
Since Dennis and I were both retired, we’d hang out at the Crown Café in the North End of Bridgeport. After golfing at Fairchild Wheeler, he’d stop by and we’d talk about city politics and just things in general. We were both of Italian descent who loved our heritage. We enjoyed each other’s company. I will miss him and I dare say Bridgeport will too.
With Dennis’ passing, our City has lost another one of its old-time politicians who led with loyalty and a sense of decency. He was a gentleman.
At the next election, we’ll certainly miss his faithful presence, greeting the voters by first name in front of John Winthrop School.
Dennis, my friend, rest in peace! Amen.