The East End Democratic Town Committee challenge slate that was seeking to unseat veteran political operatives failed to secure sufficient signatures to qualify for the March 6th primary, according to local elections officials. That means incumbent committee members such as Ralph Ford, Ernie Newton and Eneida Martinez will continue to control things in the 139th District.
Slates must secure certified signatures from five percent of registered Democrats in respective districts to wage a primary. Wanda Simmons, aligned with the Connecticut Working Families Party and former district committee member Debbie Sims were among signature hunters.
When petitioners fall short, generally it’s because sheets handed into the Registrar’s Office included unaffiliated voters or those not registered. This is a surprise because Simmons and Sims are veterans of East End campaigns. Simmons, for one, came up a little shy of winning a district City Council primary last September.
Joining Ford, Newton and Martinez on the committee are Charlie Coviello, Clem Young, Elizabeth Ann Barnes, Maurice Barnes, Keith Williams and Barbara Pouchet.
Elections officials are still reviewing petition sheets to qualify slates in other districts.
One district to watch because of implications involving a third City Council primary in the 133rd District is the town committee battle involving the four council candidates who’ll face off for legislative seats April 10, Michael DeFilippo and Jeanette Herron and former State Rep. Bob Keeley and zoning commissioner Anne Pappas Phillips.
DeFilippo and Herron are running with long-time District Leader Tom McCarthy, former City Council president. All are incumbent committee members.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ordered a third Democratic primary for City Council in the North End district based on absentee ballot irregularities. Her ruling was appealed and upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court.
So the four council candidates will immediately segue from a town committee battle to another district primary for two City Council seats. The four have been campaigning for council seats since last summer.
Bridgeport’s 90-strong Democratic Town Committee has 9 slots per 10 districts. They are the party regulars who conduct business, endorse candidate for public office and select officers.
Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa must pay close attention to the races because he’d like another two-year term when officers are selected shortly after the March 6 primaries.