Ganim Officially Enters Race For Mayor, Claims Lessons Learned

Ganim addresses crowd
Ganim addresses crowd at fundraiser two weeks ago. Sue Katz photo.

Saying he “learned some very tough lessons” from his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2003, former Mayor Joe Ganim has officially entered the race for the city’s top position filing a candidate committee on Tuesday after raising more than $50,000 in one night in an exploratory phase two weeks ago. Ganim plans a formal announcement next Thursday at the German Club on the East Side.

Ganim is challenging well-financed incumbent Democrat Bill Finch in a September primary. Finch’s 2011 primary opponent Mary-Jane Foster, school board member Howard Gardner and multiple candidate Charlie Coviello are also in the race.

Ganim’s campaign battle cry is “building a Bridgeport that works for every citizen and every neighborhood.”

The former mayor issued a news release Wednesday morning about his plans.

“This election is about how we give every Bridgeport resident a chance for a better life. I believe Bridgeport deserves a Mayor focused on creating jobs, lowering taxes, improving schools, revitalizing neighborhoods, and creating a Bridgeport that works for everyone,” said Ganim in the release.

“Now some may want this election to be about the past—-but I know the people of Bridgeport want this election to be about them–their future–and about electing the candidate with the vision and ideas to build a stronger and better Bridgeport,” said Ganim. “After listening to residents throughout the city, I am humbled by the overwhelming favorable reaction. I will work tirelessly to make our streets safer and cleaner and find ways to reduce the tax burden on homeowners. I will drive the dramatic reform necessary for government to work better for every neighborhood.”

While Ganim wants to keep the focus on the present and future, Finch’s political operation will certainly do its part to remind voters of details that led to Ganim’s federal corruption conviction March 19, 2003, ironically St. Joseph’s Day.

Ganim resigned from office the next month. He served about seven years of his nine-year sentence, released to a halfway house in the winter of 2010. Ganim spent most of the past several years living on the Ganim family compound in Easton while doing consulting work. He spent more than a decade challenging his federal conviction. Many legal observers believe his lack of contrition blocked the reinstatement of his law license.

The loss of his law license is a factor in Ganim trying to reclaim his old job. Divorced with three children, who’s going to pay Ganim an annual package worth $160,000 that’s accorded the mayor’s position?

Ganim announced weeks ago he’s renting an apartment on the city’s West Side from an official with D’Addario Industries for whom he has done consulting work.

In an East End church on New Year’s Day, Ganim made his first public admission that he violated the public trust, issuing an apology he has reiterated on several occasions across the city.

Ganim, just 32 years old, was elected mayor in November of 1991 defeating Republican Mary Moran who had placed the city into federal bankruptcy court five months prior claiming the city needed a fresh start from debt and union contracts. A federal judge ruled against the city when the state of Connecticut challenged the bankruptcy petition in court. Moran appealed the decision. The day after the November election Ganim met with Governor Lowell Weicker who told him, end the bankruptcy appeal and I’ll help you.

Weicker was true to his word: within the next year the city received much-needed financial breathing room starting 10 straight years of no tax increases. With Weicker’s leadership a new Housatonic Community College was built Downtown and a state police barracks relocated from Westport to Bridgeport at the corner of Lafayette and Prospect at a time the city was experiencing historic violent crime. With police staffing levels low, Ganim hired 100 new police officers in his first term.

Weicker helped the city remove the villainous illegal demolition debris Mount Trashmore from the East End, paid the city $10 million for the state taking over the zoo and Beardsley Park. The zoo was eventually deeded over to the Connecticut Zoological Society. Weicker’s gaming compact with two tribal nations also flushed the city with many millions more annually from slot revenues.

After the Weicker years, with John Rowland as governor, the ballpark at Harbor Yard, home to the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team, was built followed by a 10,000-seat arena for which Webster Bank currently occupies naming rights.

By the late 1990s a sense of entitlement caught up to Ganim, a leading contender for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He was indicted on Halloween of 2001 for trading official acts for high-end wines, suits, trips, cash and home improvements.

Ganim says the jury got it right, a de facto admission he lied under oath. He also claims he’s a better person for misjudgments.

“I love the people of Bridgeport. We have been through a lot together–both highs and lows. I have learned some very tough lessons. But because of these experiences, I will be a better person and will be a better Mayor. Bridgeport has such great potential. Let’s create a stronger, more inclusive Bridgeport. Let’s find solutions to tough problems together. This is why I now ask our residents for their vote for Mayor this summer.”

Between now and the September primary city voters will have a lot to think about.



  1. “I will drive the dramatic reform necessary for government to work better for every neighborhood.”

    Joe Ganim, I for one await the lengthy list of “dramatic reforms necessary” to which you will commit your candidacy. It is necessary new expectations, evaluations, oversight and monitoring mechanisms be employed and nourished to grow and maintain a healthy form of governance. Spell out how the reforms are “best practices” in other communities and why they will improve results in Bridgeport. Explain specifically how they will prevent the self-interested and destructive behavior you indulged in when you went off the track previously. What are the practical checks and balance processes that will be part of reform from day one because the appointment of a Charter Commission doing appropriate review may take 18-24 months and then their recommendations are subject to the vote of the citizens?
    And City finances? Sherwood Forest? Internet access to MUNIS reports for all? City hearing sessions where questions can be asked and responses from officials are expected? Balance sheet and capital budget reporting more complete and more regular? Identification of important Contracts and Memorandums of Understanding with outside parties and vendors? And a thorough search for the various Charter and Ordinance issues that are currently “out of compliance” in the City? The above list is a starting point. Time will tell.

  2. I’m so excited
    I just can’t hide it
    I’m about to lose control and I think I like it–Oh yeah!!!


    OMG the Messiah is here

    Every neighborhood–Every citizen–OMG
    Come on Joe, get serious! $50,000 was an impressive take. The question is will anti-Finch people give their money to you or Mary-Jane Foster??? I can’t wait to see the list of your donors and how many from Bridgeport. And of course the long list requested by John Marshall Lee.

    1. What will the list of Joe’s donors do for you in November next year when revaluation results start showing up? Will you be able to control yourself then? Get a grip, Steve.

      The list I put together is not exhaustive. They are areas the incumbent has allowed to get worse, year after year, such that we find ourselves reading your missives where you are either sweating or wetting yourself. Towel off, man. Take some deep breaths and think about all the people Finch has appointed to City positions during his term, doing a real job on the unions and whatever traditions of Civil Service may have remained. Yet you never got a position though you are relentlessly loyal. Why not dig out the facts or objective promises and pledges from candidates and hold them up to the light of reason and experience? Time will tell.

      1. John Marshall Lee, the list of donors for Joe Ganim is very important to me. I do not expect it to be important to you and I do not care if it is important to you. To me the list is very telling. Very telling to me, not to you. I cannot wait to see the list. That being said, the list you have for Ganim is extremely exhausting as most of your posts. 🙂 However, if you expect Ganim or any candidate to respond, you are too naive. Time will tell. Does anyone know when the list of donors becomes available?

        1. Steve,
          Getting a little distressed are you and having a temper tantrum? A list of donors after the election may make for a news story and that is all.
          However, a list of reforms as Ganim addresses the subject in general will be most relevant to City folks (although not you for some reason I cannot figure). The length of the list is not of my making. Rather it is because the Finch administration has strayed far from the Charter, from the Ordinances, and from “best practices” and dependability of data they release to tell a truthful story. Have I said it short enough for you?
          As we move towards the primary and election days we will see subjects addressed with more specificity. Tracking this administration for several years I am no longer naive. Rather I am patient and positive because I see the shape of the incumbency in office. They do not wish to converse in the open. They do not respond to my very specific observations on errors, mistakes, etc. because to do that would be an acknowledgement they are in error or wrong.
          If you are exhausted by my posts, perhaps you will sign up for the Finch Team Tuneup along with Council members who missed Monday’s meeting, stretch (your mind as well as muscle groups), do some walking for warmup (get your blood moving from exercise rather than rancor), and then start working on core strength training. How much time do you have? Repeat as necessary. Any hormonal changes to your mind? Towel off. Cool down. Now smile. Time will tell.

  3. Lennie’s summary is well done. We should all keep a copy of it. Again, did it miss Ganim’s admission of guilt for the felony crimes he was convicted of?

  4. If the list of donors are huge developers who will invest in the City, let the outside money pour into Joe/s coffers. Bob Scinto used to invest in the city when Joe was boss, haven’t seen him in the city since.

    1. BPT REBEL, there will not be any huge developers supporting Ganim. I think it was Thomas Bucci who was the last Mayor to enjoy one of Bob Scinto’s major projects with the Wright Financial Center, now RBS. Any development in the city will stop other than Steelepointe. Honestly, I cannot imagine any developer looking at Bridgeport and its history of corruption dealing with Joe Ganim who is the epitome of Bridgeport Corruption over any Mayor who has ever served. The absolute epitome. I do not see Ganim gaining steam at all.

  5. Just my personal point of view, but I fail to see why his announcement is cause for joy for any Bridgeporter. He’s entitled to a second chance, as is anyone who has paid their debt to society, but not in the position of mayor, which he blatantly violated during his former tenure.

  6. Maybe the Mohegans and Pequots are supporting Ganim? Oh silly me I guess I am a conspiracy nut. Could Blumenthief be involved as well? This is just a coincidence. Back to the future.

  7. Scinto disinvested in Bridgeport during the Ganim years (1999 I believe) when he sold 1070 Lafayette Blvd in order to make an additional investment in Shelton. Scinto told me why he does not invest in Bpt. Ganim would be wise to reach out to Scinto.

  8. Excuse me, but didn’t Scinto have his own problems up in Shelton? Isn’t it time to stop holding him up as the poster boy for everything right and honest?


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