Frisky Democratic Operatives Fuel March Madness Primary Fever

Hector Diaz
Hector Diaz hunts for district challenge.

UPDATE: We are now up to 6 of 10 districts that could fan Democratic Town Committee primaries across the city in March, the latest forged by former State Rep. Hector Diaz in a challenge of the 130th Black Rock/West End District led by political leader Danny Roach who’s weighing a challenge of Mario Testa for citywide leadership. The city hasn’t seen this type of political district disruption in a long time, coming on the heels of last September’s thrashing of endorsed candidates for school board and City Council.

Diaz says if his slate submits the certified signatures to make the ballot it will include former State Rep. Lee Samowitz, former State Rep. Edna Garcia and former City Councilman Joel “Speedy” Gonzalez.

Town committee members represent the infrastructure of the Democratic political organization. When times are good districts may experience a battle here and there based on personality clashes for political control. When more than half the districts are in play for primaries it’s generally symptomatic of disharmony in the political structure and/or voter dissatisfaction with the direction of the city.

Roach dropped Diaz from the town committee in favor of some new blood in the highest-turnout area of the city. Diaz comes from strong political stock. His dad served admirably as town clerk for two decades and his mother was a stalwart of the East Side political organization. Hector himself served in the State House. Roach believed Hector lost interest in district politics and dropped him. Hector’s trying to show he still has the fire.

Gil Hernandez, Christina Ayala
East Side Democratic District Leader Gil Hernandez supported Christina Ayala in 2012. What about this year? Photo by Jim Callahan.

Across the city on the East Side, political operative Tito Ayala is trying to show that he too has the fire on behalf of his daughter State Rep. Christina Ayala. Two years ago, in a coalition with long-time 137th East Side District Leader Gil Hernandez, Tito wrested control of the district from City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez. The Ayala/Hernandez coalition that included former City Councilwoman Maria Valle took five of the nine district seats with Martinez winning a seat but losing control. Valle challenged Martinez last September for City Council winning on the machines, but succumbing to Lydia’s mighty absentee ballot operation.

Meanwhile Christina Ayala’s legal challenges including a state investigation into election law violations have given East Side politicians pause. Rather than face another district primary Hernandez cut a deal with Martinez to keep the district committee makeup in place. This was not good news to the Ayalas because the Martinez faction of the district is not inclined to support Christina. Papa Ayala is trying to pull together a slate to win control of the district. Why does this matter? The 137th and 136th District town committee members control the endorsement for Christina’s State House seat. Christina could face a challenge from city employee Chris Rosario who’s aligned with Mayor Bill Finch, and others interested in her seat.

The Democratic Town Committee is comprised of 90 members spread across 10 districts. They endorse candidates for public office and select a chairman. Members of the town committee serve two-year terms. The respective establishment town committee districts can be challenged in a primary. Challenge slates must secure signatures from five percent of the registered Dem voters in respective districts to wage primaries. The top nine vote producers among all the candidate lines win.

Christina Ayala’s mother Sandi Ayala is Democratic registrar of voters. Her office is busy reviewing petition sheets of slates trying to qualify for the ballot. Deadline to file primary petitions is Wednesday at 4 p.m. Primary is March 4.



  1. This is why I’ve just become the latest member of the Danny Roach Fan Club:
    Here’s the spin: sometimes coming from strong political stock means lacking private-sector chops.
    Always expand; never contract.
    Today’s topic is deliberately downsizing himself.

  2. Off topic, but has anyone seen or heard from Walker: Lone Ranger?
    The state of CT has announced a quarter of a billion dollar budget surplus. Republican Leadership in the state House and Senate are calling for tax cuts. Republican Gubernatorial candidates are sitting quietly waiting for Malloy to speak.
    But this is Dave Walker’s area of expertise. Why is he sitting around saying nothing? Because he wants a tax break but doesn’t want to publicly come out for one? He wants to see what the experienced leaders in his party call for? He is clueless on the issue?
    The General Assembly minority leadership has at least said something. He could be on the front line but instead seems to like it on the sidelines.
    Personally, I think the most prudent action would be to reestablish the rainy day fund. But I’m not running for office.
    So David, what say you?
    Are you trying to figure out a way to blame it one the unions? Say it should be bigger so bigger tax cuts could be enacted?

  3. I read that. He does not talk about issues. He does not offer solutions. He has not put forward his plan to reform state finances. He only speaks in generalities and lacks serious specificity.

  4. Bob Walsh is a pursuer of specificities, not generalities, or at least he has become so in recent days. Not from himself naturally, but from others. How is that?
    Can anyone tell me where Bob has been relative to comments, general or specific, since his days on the CC? As a man with a reputation for fiscal savvy, I would have thought that would be his strong suit. If so, where have his comments been on CAFRs annually, on departmental budgets, on City benefit plans (not to restructure them if they need assist, but to make sure they efficiently are able to provide the promised dollars), on SPECIFIC City money items that TAXPAYERS will find important? Bob, what is the reason for your silence? In your own words, “Why are you sitting around, saying nothing?”
    You suggest there is a reason for Walker failing to disclose at this time. What’s your reason for silence on these issues? Humility? Time will tell.

    1. John Marshall Lee,
      In case you did not get the memo, I am retired. I gave my city over 20 years of service. I served on the Fire Commission when Ganim was closing fire houses. I served on the WPCA when Ganim was trying to privatize the workforce. And then I served 17 years on the City Council. I am not consumed by all of this. I have moved on. In case you haven’t noticed when you are addressing the council, I haven’t been sitting there for over four years. And your attempts at goading me into commenting on issues dear to you simply won’t work.
      But here is some free advice. Why don’t you start doing something other than whining? You don’t like the people on the City Council, why don’t you actually run for office?
      You don’t like what the city does with financial reporting, why don’t you do some research other than complain? Find other cities’ ordinances you like and draft one. Then present it to your representatives and other council members to sponsor.
      You don’t like the way the council acts, look at their rules and draft changes. Again present them to your representatives and others for their support.
      You want to see documents, file an FOI complaint, stay on top of it, follow it up to Hartford and testify at the hearing. It’s a lot more work than complaining.
      You think the city is violating its charter or ordinances, get a lawyer and file a writ of mandamus. But that only works if the city is not doing what is required, not what you like it to do. Quit complaining and actually try doing something, OK?
      I am not running for LT Governor. David Walker claims to be but avoids the heavy lifting that is required of a candidate, like taking a stance on an issue.
      No one ever accused me of being afraid or too cautious to take a stand. NO ONE. GOT THAT???

      1. Bravo! Bob Walsh, thank you for your many years of service. Good, bad or otherwise, your point is well taken. You have given your time and that is commendable. On the other hand, John Marshall Lee, in a non-partisan fashion, has given countless hours of his time and effort to improve our city. You may not agree, but that is okay.

      2. Bob Walsh, that’s a great civics lesson for anyone who wants to make change and get involve but it’s the wrong lesson for John Marshall Lee. His agenda is to try to be the smartest person in the room and then to lecture everybody and to tell them what they are doing wrong and then hoping those in power would follow him. It’s not about making change, it’s about people telling JML how smart he is and Bob like you said, attempts at goading people into commenting on issues dear to him simply won’t work.

        JML is like his hero David Walker, they want to throw rocks and act like they are the only ones who know how to make change but they won’t listen to anyone and they reject anyone who would challenge them. Bob, maybe he will follow your direction, time will tell.

      3. Bob,
        I was making more of a point of what you know (knew) about City governance due to your experience and have failed to follow up personally or to instruct others in those details since your CC retirement.
        What I have been doing (in my own opinion and perspective, since you have not asked) is to learn, study and review materials and records of City governance, including financial goings-on and report on them. Using the CT Post, City Council public-speaking sessions, attendance at meetings of various bodies in the City where one may or may not share voice, as well as Only In Bridgeport, I have attempted to provide insight into a broken and infirm process.
        Several years ago I realized how little I understood of the facts of the City processes. I have learned lots more since then including the use of a writ of mandamus. I have stayed outside the formal party politics process in the City, and know there is an audience for at least my reporting of the information and connections as well as the raising of questions, if not necessarily about my opinions.
        So Bob, if you see it as complaining or whining, as you describe it, that’s your opinion. I shall stay the course, encouraging more people across the City, who want a more responsive, open, accountable and transparent form of governance get to see what is holding all of us back. And in the meantime, perhaps by seeing themselves in the mirror of public opinion and fact, at a disadvantage to where they wish to be seen, leadership may adjust their sails. Human nature not to be laughed at, I think. Time will tell.

  5. Bob Walsh, you really got this one 100% right. All Walker does is throw rocks at Governor Malloy, now I’m not crazy about Malloy but compared to any of the Republican candidates Malloy looks good. Walker is waiting to get his talking points from someone else before he can say anything.

  6. *** How about getting off-topic and talk some Superbowl Football that’s coming next weekend! I’m a AFC football fan so I’m cheering for the Denver Broncos to win with P. Manning as MVP of the game! And if his team does win, he’ll be the first Q/B to win a Superbowl with two different teams! Got to love it, no? *** ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL! ***

      1. Was told I am too late to switch … or the dare would be accepted. As you know I always tell the truth … so the dare tactic is a sure thing with me. 😉

        1. Jennifer, it was a pleasure to meet you this am. We would welcome you with open arms. Since there is no primary in any of the Republican districts and in the end we all desire the same thing, “a BETTER BRIDGEPORT.” Any consideration on your part would be truly appreciated.

          1. It was good to put a face with the name. As a Republican, not sure how much help I can be to or for you, but my hope is always that the most qualified and best candidates are victorious.

        2. I think it was Jennifer Buchanan who posted a Facebook photo of Hell frozen over. That’s how it felt today. It ain’t easy! I’m thinking of going to Harborview Market in the morning to get some signatures. Maybe Jim Fox can do a Radio Interview Live from Harborview. Thanks to those who showed up at Stop&Shop. I’d like some feedback from the folks in Black Rock as to any DTC petition activity goes. Stop calling people to tell them not to sign any papers. BTW does anyone knows donj’s home address in Black Rock? That’s three signatures in one home.

    1. Jennifer Buchanan, with respect this is what you and the membership of Citizens Working for a Better Bridgeport should have been doing from the beginning. The real power in Bridgeport starts with control of the DTC, but no, you guys didn’t want to make changes so you hooked your dreams onto Rick Torres and David Walker and what did you get, crumbs instead of a slice of the pie.

      1. Um, with respect, when CW4BB started, it was not a DTC election cycle. They have been involved with EVERY election that has presented itself, in the order in which each OCCURRED since the group’s inception. This is next on the agenda, and they are getting involved.

        Don’t you think it would have looked kind of funny to be campaigning for DTC primaries during a city council election? Jeez Ron, do you see beyond the movie in your head, ever?

        1. Mustang Sally, you guys got all hooked on David Walker when he moved into Black Rock, he was like the second coming. He has led you down a road he has paved for himself and you guys are following like little puppies. What has it gotten you, nothing has changed.

          1. Everyone has the right to Ron Mackey’s opinion. If everyone threw out their personal perceptions and opinions like you do, this blog would be unreadable.

            I thank the Good Lord most have the presence of mind to censor attacks and refrain from name-calling (yes, puppies is name-calling whether you like it or not) to keep this blog from completely submerging into the rabbit hole.

            And for the record again: (disclaimer: I can see clearly you did not write this in your responses) I do not live in Black Rock, I am not a Republican, and if you ask anyone who knows me personally, trying to get me to follow anyone like a puppy dog is an exercise in futility.

            Attacks and name-calling are so 2013.

        2. Mustang Sally, how are people to trust and believe someone named Mustang Sally? Show some courage and tell us all what your real name is instead of making comments on OIB and hiding from what you said.

          1. And opening myself up to a stream of much more targeted and personal Mac attacks? How does not a chance sound? Call me names like “coward” and “puppy dog” all you want. It’s not making ME look any worse.

            I am on to constructive, substantive blogging now.

      2. Ron, you don’t seem too interested in making changes in your respective Democratic Town Committee. Why are you folks in the 131st continuing to hook your dreams onto Americo and Robles? Do you know the majority of those sharing the slice of the pie live just steps away from you?

        1. Joel Gonzalez, you make some good points. Joel as you know it takes a little money and a lot of footwork and time to get signatures for DTC petition. At this time I am not physically able to do the footwork that’s needed to get signatures because of a knee replacement operation and rehab and now I’m going back into the hospital to have knee replacement for the other knee.

          As for Americo and Robles, I do not trust Americo and as for Robles, I’ve had no dealings with him but I did with his father when he was the district leader for the 131st and I was a member of the DTC in the 131st.

          1. Domingo Robles was the epitome of a gentleman, a great loss for all of us. Anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting him would say the same.

      3. Oh Ron, how I wish you would join CW4BB. I believe you also want a better Bridgeport and your experience, knowledge, wisdom and strategy would be a real asset to making this city better. I think if you look at our last endorsements, more candidates were elected than just Torres–and if he is a crumb, it has to be one of the largest crumbs (pun intended) I could ever hope to have at my table.

        1. Jennifer Buchanan, I questioned CW4BB on OIB. When I first heard about them, I asked if there were blacks and Hispanics in the group and suggested CW4BB do an outreach to them and I suggested the same for the Republican candidates running in the 130th district. I was criticized for that and it was said I was playing the race card. I believe in a strong two-party system, well we don’t have that in Bridgeport so for change to happen Democrats must challenge other Democrats and I thought CW4BB would do that, instead they became the lead for Republicans. Below is a link where Regina Roundtree speaks about a lot of the issues I brought forward to CW4BB and the Republicans.

          Regina Roundtree, founder of Connecticut Black Republicans and Conservatives

          1. Ron, members of CW4BB have repeatedly done an outreach to you specifically inviting you to have a sit down and talk with us–and you have never accepted the invitations. I cannot tell if you have Groucho Marx syndrome, or you do not want to invest the time and effort to see if you want to be involved, which is of course your prerogative. I can certainly understand how a person who is completely loyal to their party would have a real problem belonging to an organization willing to endorse and do the legwork to help elect qualified candidates regardless of party affiliation. As a Republican, I saw CW4BB endorse more Democrats and WF Party candidates than Republicans, and every district and race had Republican candidates. And you see us backing more Republicans than Democrats, so our individual viewpoint of which party was most endorsed is perhaps obscured by our party affiliation biases. The goal of CW4BB is always to support candidates who are qualified, not conflicted in their abilities to execute the duties of their office, regardless of party affiliation. I had to learn how to step back, look at the real qualifications of the candidates and make my voting decision accordingly.
            We do have a majority of Democrats in CW4BB, and both Latino and black membership. If CW4BB endorsed Republicans over other parties, it was because the majority of the voting membership made the decision.
            I am not a big fan of, nor am I involved in Democrat Town Committee Primaries–not my party and not my fight. As a member of CW4BB I had to become involved in the BOE primaries. You are right, the local DTC primary is one to watch and in which to be actively involved. I do not really know most of the candidates, having more Ron Mackeys involved would really be helpful, as I will base my voting endorsement decision on what the Democrats in our organization know and share, as well as the interview process with candidates asking for consideration of our endorsement.
            We both want a strong two-party system, be a part of the change to help strong, qualified Democrats get elected. Please!

        2. Jennifer Buchanan, the direction CW4BB goes is up to them but my view from the outside shows me their main concerns have to do with Black Rock and not go across Brewster St. Yes, they did endorse and do the leg work to help elect qualified candidates in other districts but their main concern is Black Rock. Look at the entire 130th district I never saw any concern with Longfellow School, the crime and drugs in PT Barnum or the issues on the State Street side of the district. The only Republican I have seen who I would support was Jodi Rell.

          Jennifer, the time was right for a takeover 130th district with the two City Council members and DTC and I really thought CW4BB would be involved in that takeover but they took a different position.

          1. Ron,
            Several folks who post with their own name as you do were active last fall with CC4BB. I did not attend every meeting but many of them including the first two where the idea this group had to reach beyond Black Rock was discussed as a practical matter. Agreement was unanimous, we were to focus on City change, not just neighborhood change.
            As to neighborhood, the local NRZ incorporated Longfellow School, PT Barnum (and therefore Captain’s Cove) into the City Council approved footprint. City Council candidate Phil Blagys has been an activist for the entire neighborhood with Black Rock Community Council activities and is on the NRZ Board. Many of us were present at the soil contamination process hearings at Longfellow School and supported the decision to remediate land and building with a new school rather than a renovation. We have supported the Albion St. location for the Health Center and used very limited funds to be sure good sidewalks were installed.
            We have pursued candidates for the NRZ from the Barnum and Longfellow communities and continue to encourage participation by all members of the community. The recent addition to the Burroughs Center is mainly for young people and serves youth from both sides of Brewster Street. And when a fast-food restaurant appeared six years ago, some of us were on the side of getting a more safety conscious configuration for pedestrian youth than that initially offered. That neighborhood representation came on behalf of the entire neighborhood.
            It seems to me Ron, some of the notions you have of the Black Rock neighborhood need to be subject to review and change. I understand your health issues limit you at this time so you cannot come out and visit over coffee for discussion or take a ride in the neighborhood to exchange observations and viewpoints, but I look forward to doing that someday soon. Hope your healing is rapid and successful. Then please give me a call. Time will tell.

          2. John Marshall Lee, Black Rock Community Council activities and the NRZ Board deal with certain issues but CW4BB is a political action committee and as such could have brought up concern with Longfellow School, the crime and drugs in PT Barnum or the issues on the State Street side of the district along with snow removal, City Council members working for the city and taxes. CW4BB could have made inroads into the Democratic base by championing all those issues and they would have found voters out there who would have supported them. Pressure on the incumbents could have forced them into listening to CW4BB and possibly voting the way CW4BB was suggesting. The power in Bridgeport is with Democrats, backing Republicans is okay but you will not make changes.

  7. Lennie,
    How about a little news here.
    How many slates have filed the requisite number of signatures?
    Which ones are they?
    How many slates have been qualified?
    Which ones?
    Do we have any districts guaranteed a primary yet?
    Have any slates been notified theey submitted an insufficient number of verifiable signatures?
    Let’s do some serious news reporting on this blog every once in a while.

    1. I’m trying, Troll, I’m trying. I’ve requested all of the above from registrar. Office says it’s busy checking signatures. If any slates have qualified, please let us know. Deadline to file primary petitions is Wednesday at 4 p.m.

  8. Bob Walsh will retire from politics the day they pry his cold dead hand from a handbill supporting someone for office who he thinks will help turn the political system upside down. Probably outside of a precinct. He will be just outside of the 75-foot boundary for electioneering but will fall dead within the line.

  9. Joel,
    You had better plan on getting twice the number of signatures required if that is your strategy. A quarter of the signers aren’t Dems and a quarter don’t live in the district.

  10. *** My, there are some GOP bashers on this OIB website! And according to them, the GOP’s got no clue whatsoever towards coming up with better solutions to some of this city or state’s political problems. So is it only on the Dems and Independents to find some solutions and then there are always the race issues with some of the usual do-nothing complainers, no? ***

      1. *** Let’s give it a little time, I’m sure you’ll bring the issue up sooner or later, no? Also, when have you ever heard so much “let’s hear (their or his) solutions” from one person who’s only interested in running for Lt. Gov? I would guess in time and if people are listening we all may know what the GOP platform will actually be. I’m a registered Dem. with independent party ideas, I certainly too will be just as curious. ***

    1. Thank you, Mojo. If you know of anyone I should approach for assistance or votes, please let me know. Your well wishes are appreciated, again thank you.


  12. OK Lennie, here is what I am hearing:
    131 John McCarthy and Mort Farahty qualified
    132 Ann Owens, Ray Lyddy, Mart Fisher, Cal Fararah and Tom Mulligan qualified
    133 Rizzitei, Maioco and Maccioca are in
    134 Pinto and Caruso
    135 Sam Liskov and John Murphy
    138 Eddie Caldwell, Ed Newkowski, Terry McGovern and Ed Green qualified.
    I will let you know more when I hear. JML, C, am I missing anyone?

  13. Here was an interesting story in the CT Post that didn’t get a mention on the OIB Blog:
    BRIDGEPORT – The city school district systematically failed to identify a number of students determined to be eligible for special education and must take corrective action, the state Department of Education has determined.
    Most of the examples cited in the complaint were from the 2012-13 school year, when under outgoing Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas there was a concerted effort to bring down special education costs.
    Under federal law every school district must identify, locate and evaluate all students who need–or are suspected to need–special education or related services.
    “Every year we saw the failures getting worse rather than better, despite our repeated legal actions on behalf of individual clients,” Colon said.

    A shrinking number of school staff, social workers, guidance counselors and psychologist made the problem worse, he added.

    Mary Jean Schierberl, an education consultant to the state Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education found that specific students at Harding, Bassick, Marin went without receiving a Planning and Placement Team assessment as is required under a federal Child Find mandate. In essence, the onus is on the district to identify and evaluate children in need whether or not a parent asks for an evaluation.

    So can all of the Paul Vallas supporters please stand and repeat after me:
    “It was never about the children. It was all about the bottom line.”

    1. That is not true, Bob. This is a trick. This is how it works. You have a student who is flunking out. Have that student designated ‘special Ed’ due to some diagnosis (real or imagined) like attention deficit. Now you cannot give that student any grade lower than a ‘C’ regardless of his performance and the state picks up more of the cost of his education. Then you pass the kid through, hand him his diploma (not that he can read it) and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. The entire premise does not make any sense on its face. The state pays more for kids who are in SPED and it is easier to get the kids through and out the door. The only reason for not putting a kid in SPED would be because you REALLY want to educate him. They are starting this fuss so when most of the kids who the schools are failing are designated ‘special Ed’ no one will look too hard. BTW–are we having that ‘economic rebound’ you spoke of yet? Or, are our state, city and federal deficits still a problem?

  14. And remember, the former Board of Ed cut a deal with the state so the state can select the next Superintendent. The same state BOE that gave us Vallas. The same state BOE that decided Vallas did not have to meet stringent educational requirements because he had proven he knew it all.

  15. Bob Walsh, another story from you that is missing some facts? The agreement was a financial agreement, wasn’t it to bring several millions to the City in addition to ECS, various grants, etc.? It was termed a forgivable loan, and said the State would have input when the next Super was selected. Do you think you have overstated the case a bit, Bob? Of course all of us will have to await the actual selection process for a permanent Super, but don’t you think the State was looking at the Interim Super selection? Wouldn’t you be surprised if they were not?
    And if you have not understood the sham and shame contained in young persons being passed on and out of school without the ability to read, then maybe you will consult what direction Vallas took for a significant portion of that group of City youth to change the results. If you cannot access that info, let me know. You may be receiving only part of the story (as happens to me sometimes) but I believe that you would wish to know the fuller story, no? Time will tell.


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