Ganim, Short On Specifics, Kicks Off Mayoral Race, “Bridgeport That Works For Everyone”

Ganim speech German Club
Ganim announcement speech at German Club. Sue Katz photo.

Continuing a theme of a “Bridgeport that works for everyone,” former Democratic Mayor Joe Ganim Thursday night launched his formal kickoff to try to reclaim the job he resigned more than 12 years ago following his conviction on federal corruption charges, asserting “This election is about the future and about which candidate has the vision and ideas to create a city.” The event was more campaign rally–appealing to the more than 300 cheering supporters in the German Club on the East Side–than providing specifics of what a new Ganim administration would do. A number of city police officers attended.

“I’m running for mayor again to improve the lives of the families who call this great city our home and to provide real solutions for our city,” Ganim said. “It is high time to get real leadership to make Bridgeport that city that works for everyone. During the course of this campaign, I will unveil a series of detailed proposals on how to move our city forward. Tonight, I ask for your support.”

He chastised Mayor Bill Finch for breaking promises, raising taxes, underfunding public safety and failing to put children first.

Crowd responds to Ganim speech.
Crowd responds to Ganim speech. Sue Katz photo.

“You know Mayor Finch and his surrogates will want to make this election about the past. But it is really about future and about you. It is also very much about him–what he has done and failed to do,” said Ganim to chants of “Run, Joe, run.”

Finch’s political operation will certainly place a premium on Ganim’s past reminding voters of the circumstances that forced him from office in 2003. On Wednesday Finch launched another in what is expected to be a series of announcements at the Steel Point redevelopment area of the East Side that includes a Bass Pro Shops as the anchor tenant. While Ganim can tout a ballpark and arena as keystone developments during his years as mayor, Steel Point will serve as Finch’s development fidelity against Ganim’s troubled past.

Crowd gives thumbs up. Sue Katz photo.
Crowd gives thumbs up. Sue Katz photo.

When Ganim filed his candidate committee paperwork last week, Finch’s Campaign Manager Maryli Secrest fired off a blistering statement asserting “Joe Ganim is a corrupt politician who spent seven years in prison … According to federal prosecutors, a group of developers promised to raise $500,000 for Mr. Ganim’s anticipated gubernatorial campaign in exchange for allowing them to develop Steel Point.”

A few weeks ago Ganim raised more than $50,000 at a fundraiser when he was in an exploratory phase for mayor. Last week he formed a full candidate committee that allows him to raise a maximum personal contribution of $1,000. Finch has already raised more than $400,000 as he seeks a third four-year term.

Ganim’s campaign kickoff also served as a fundraiser that featured a modest $25 ticket to gain entry. Prior to Ganim the enthusiastic crowd was warmed up by several speakers including State Rep. Charlie Stallworth, Board of Education transportation chief Raul Laffitte, former City Council President Lisa Parziale, district leaders Steve Nelson and Ralph Ford and Town Clerk Alma Maya who announced her endorsement of Ganim a few days ago.

Finch’s 2011 primary opponent Mary-Jane Foster, school board member Howard Gardner and multiple-mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello are also in the race. The Democratic Party endorsement will take place in July followed by a September primary.

Full text of Ganim speech:

Thank you for coming tonight and thank you for this incredible response. It’s been an incredible several months. I have been humbled by the outpouring of support by those of you in this room and throughout our city. Your good wishes and prayers have meant a lot.

What I have heard at every church-meeting and every street corner is this:

1. People want a mayor who CARES and who will truly listen to their concerns and who will lead our city away from fear, despair, and disrepair.

2. People want a Mayor who can bring about CHANGE so that Bridgeport is always a place where we feel safe and be safe.

3. People want a Mayor with VISION and direction for our city.

4. People want a Mayor who works for EVERYONE–not just the few.

5. And, people want a Mayor’s office that is TRANSPARENT and open. That is why today–with your support–I am launching my campaign for Mayor–to build a Bridgeport that works for every citizen and every neighborhood. It’s time we had a Bridgeport that works for everyone.

This election is about the future and about which candidate has the vision and ideas to create a city:

• Where families can raise their children in safe neighborhoods,

• Where every child has access to a world-class education,

• Where good jobs are created, and

• Where high property taxes don’t cause homeowners or businesses to flee.

You know Mayor Finch and his surrogates will want to make this election about the past. But it is really about future and about you. It is also very much about him–what he has done and failed to do:

• From breaking his promise to cut taxes and instead raise them nearly every year–except election years;

• For his failing to help improve our schools and instead to attack them and fail to put our children first;

• For his failing to create jobs for Bridgeport residents and economic development throughout the city;

• For failing to adequately fund our police, or fire services, or protect our neighborhoods … while innocent hard-working people are hurt and tragically shot.

• And his being out of touch and failing to lead on so many important issues.

Simply put, this election is about which candidate understands how to bring our city together and to move us forward:

1. I will work tirelessly to bring good paying jobs back to Bridgeport.

2. I will work alongside our brave first responders to safeguard our streets and neighborhoods.

3. I won’t just clean up crime, I’ll make sure our streets and gathering places shine so we can rightly reclaim the name the ‘Park City.’

4. I will empower our schools and work cooperatively with schools, teachers and parents–so every child from Black Rock to the East End gets a top education.

5. We must reduce class size and attain universal pre-school. I will properly fund our public school system.

6. Taxes on homeowners have been jacked up almost 50% over the last eight years by this mayor. I will seek to reduce this high tax burden which is hurting hard-working homeowners and families,

7. I will grow our city tax base to fund desperately needed improvements, increase accountability, and find new savings to stabilize and reduce property taxes.

8. I will champion new reforms necessary to ensure that the people’s government works better for everyone.

9. I will bring public access and transparency to city hall and give citizens the voice they deserve from their government.

When I was first elected, Bridgeport was on its heels. Bankruptcy was underway and drug gangs held some of our neighborhoods hostage. With community policing we forced crime levels to fall dramatically.

We cleared hundreds of blighted buildings and fixed dozens of school buildings, while launching the largest school reconstruction program in the city’s history–that is still on-going today.

We built Harbor Yard Ball Park, The Arena at Harbor Yard, and the intermodal transportation terminal. We located land for Housatonic Community College and began the hard work that has finally resulted in the Steel Point Project.

I led our city away from the brink of default and did not raise your taxes, accomplishing 0%, no tax increase 10 straight years. These efforts helped create jobs and improve our neighborhoods to the point that our city recovery was called “one of the greatest urban success stories in the nation.”

Since then we have been through a lot together–both highs and lows. Through it all, I have learned some very tough lessons. Because of these experiences, I am a better person and will be a better Mayor. I’m running for Mayor again to improve the lives of the families who call this great city our home and to provide real solutions for our city. It is high time to get real leadership to make Bridgeport that city that works for everyone. During the course of this campaign, I will unveil a series of detailed proposals on how to move our city forward. Tonight, I ask for your support.

Together, we can restore hope and promise to our city and our future. Together, we can build a better Bridgeport. Thank you and God bless the people of Bridgeport.



  1. In a nutshell, Joe Ganim said nothing. Joe Ganim has had 10 years and plenty of time to have a plan and lay it out. What we will have is just attacks on the Mayor in vulnerable areas that will pander to his audience. He said nothing tonight. I was at least hoping for something. This was a missed opportunity for Mr. Ganim. I was actually hoping for substance and a plan. John Marshall Lee, were you satisfied? Did you get enough transparency to give up on Finch? Just curious. Is Mary-Jane Foster running or wisely waiting for 2019?

    Mayor Finch, a press conference to support and embrace the University of Bridgeport prior to the reopening of Roosevelt school will be your crowning glory.

    I wish everyone well.

  2. Steve,
    The words Joe Ganim crafted and delivered were not the ones I wrote about earlier today. To me it is not between Ganim and Finch as you keep stating as well as telling Mary-Jane to wait another four years and Bill Finch to “embrace” the University of Bridgeport.

    My relation with Bill Finch is very limited, a choice he has made. From the beginning of my fiscal studies five years ago I have asked questions that had answers that easily could have been answered. Instead he plows on, ignoring for the most part correcting the errors, gaffes and inconsistencies of his administration. Too bad. My reporting has been for everyone. Some people get that and are appreciative. Some are happy in their current state, but OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT are not yet showing anywhere for Finch. WHY DO YOU BOTHER TO ASK?

    Steve, I think you mentioned earlier this week you have sold some of several real estate interests in Bridgeport recently. Is that because things getting better and better every day has brought your values to a new high? Or are you, as some others with signs on their properties getting out before the revaluation info surfaces after the election? Or is it simpler than that and just time to adjust your portfolio of assets? After your adjustments will your Bridgeport property taxes have dropped in half or less? That may be a reason to celebrate on the one hand, and not necessarily a vote of confidence in the current Mayor, on the other hand, if you catch the meaning. Time will tell.

    1. Well, I do believe things are getting better, I see things getting better. I am voting for Mayor Finch. I must have a vote of confidence in his ability. Is he perfect, well not quite. Do I think anyone currently running against him could do a better job? No! Am I currently benefiting from being a punching bag on this blog by supporting Finch? No. JML, although I appreciate many of your commentaries, I disagree on too many when it comes to economic development. As many anti-Finch people on this blog who protest many of Finch’s accomplishments I’d have to say most Mayors including Ganim would support reasonable abatements to stimulate the local economy. I am apparently on the wrong side of the issues with many on this blog. I am not a follower. I support what I believe is right for the city. Including charter schools. Of course we will never find a candidate who supports all of our goals.

      The sale of the property had nothing to do with reevaluation though I expect they would be affected. It was needing cash as you do not make a living as a substitute. It is really actually at the poverty level. I do like to eat and travel. It does cost a small fortune patronizing local businesses. 🙂 I only suggest MJF wait four years because I like her and don’t think she has a chance this time around. Ganim, no way! Mayor Fabrizi would have been a formidable candidate, but he was wise to sit this out especially with the reval. Mary-Jane Foster has waited too long. Nearly all the losers who were supporting her are now supporting Ganim. That I can’t figure out. Me, I just feel it is to the benefit of Bridgeport to not change captains. This city is moving in the right direction with still much work to do. That is my take.

      Honestly, I do believe this will he a yawn of an election. I think Mayor Finch deserves four more years.

      1. Steve,
        You have pointed to the differences between us on economic development as a reason for disagreeing with me though you find other of my comments on target or acceptable. Well I cannot tell what you mean by “economic development” but let’s see if you would wish for three items to be made public:

        1) Can we see a ten-year listing of the Grand List totals with the several categories of property separated and footnotes to tell us how much of values in each column are currently being contested by the City in court? (Example: Wheelabrator values are actually $100 Million less than the City expert can prove. What number is the City using today? If there has been a change, in which year?)

        2) From the Grand List taxable properties (that are not charitable, governmental including municipal, religious, can we see a listing with totals for the past ten years of properties that have had an adjustment to their tax obligation by the City Council with data that includes current contribution this year, valuation, year of adjustment, when adjustment ends, and perhaps what the property might bring if the property owners were paying at 100% level? That would show the subsidy that the Council has voted cumulatively and that forces a larger share onto homeowners and other property owners.

        3) Relative to the SPIID LLC, the crown jewel of City longtime development efforts, can we see the listing of all properties in that 70 acre parcel with the former addresses, owners, and other details, but most importantly the price paid for the property in order for the City to become owner? (David Kooris provided a listing but the data on values only ran from 1997-2000 and properties continued to be acquired for at least 10 more years. I made this request in letter form at a SPIID meeting by handing it to Adam Wood who presided at the meeting. He looked at my four requests, said they were simple and indicated that he would get the answers. I have three answers but the fourth, this completed listing, is being referred back to counsel for SPIID who have already indicated they do not have such. Let’s see if Adam can move this project.) The total of those values is one important criteria to see how much the City has already invested in SPIID over the years in land acquisition, to say nothing of foregone taxes, legal costs, etc.

        There are other lists and trends I would track if the info were available, but secrets are more important to this administration, despite the number of “public relations” and “communications” consultants. What say you, Steve? Would having such current info help you maintain your grading of the City as “high achieving?” Time will tell.

        1. JML, where were you during the Ganim Administration??? If you were scrutinizing the administration maybe it would have kept Ganim on the straight and narrow. Were you in Bridgeport??? For the 10 years he was Mayor I cannot even remember who his director of development was. Can anyone?

          1. Steve,
            I have been a resident owner for 27 years in Bridgeport. And I was not at the time pursuing City fiscal issues. Naively, I thought they were in good hands. Since the Financial Review Board and Management Advisory Group left the stage, more and more sticks have been pulled from the check and balance structure. Employees in Finance are not held to “best practices” or reviewing their documentation for errors. The City Council receives less information timely than ever and has no real concept of what financial monitoring and pushback are. No internal auditor. Purchasing review by Ordinance is ignored. I can go on. You have heard it before.

            So I did what I would have advised others, or what I assumed others were doing and I started reviewing materials about money. Two or three years of that and the CT Post terms me more than once, Bridgeport’s fiscal watchdog! Did I set out to become that? No. It just happened along the way. The standards have fallen so low in too many places such that not much surprises me. Big reform necessary, and Finch does not blink.

            So we travel along the “better every day” yellow brick road with the PR flacks and approach primary and election days. Lots of candidates in the field? Great. Maybe the sorry state of our governance, finances and elected leadership can receive focus. Time will tell.

          2. JML, wasn’t Tom White the communicator to the council? Tom, were you here during the Ganim Administration or John Fabrizi???

  3. My informant shared they saw Mayor Finch selling tickets to the new theater at Stealpoint in the German Club parking lots. He was heard saying “three dollars, just three dollars, or I will personally enter your child into the lottery for Dr. Steve Perry’s Charter School.” I heard he was repeatedly given the finger.

    Adam Wood was seen yelling at Chief Gaudett as car after car lined up to park at the German Club. He was overheard screaming “see what happens when innocent people are murdered over and over again and people realize Bridgeport isn’t getting better every day.”

    Brett Boner was seen hiding in the bushes doing what “boners” do.

    1. Maria, and you were impressed with his party and speech. Couple of people told me they were a little shocked and disappointed. I saw a two-minute interview on news 12. Not very impressive. What say you?

      1. Steve,
        All I can tell you is I was standing on my chair chanting “win Joe, win” over and over again. It was jam-packed and a great coming-out party!

  4. If Bridgeport were a country, with the political and economic environment such as it is at the present time, we would be very susceptible to a successful military coup with the subsequent installation of an army Corporal or Sergeant (or some such lower-ranking plotter) as our dictator for life.

    This should be an interesting–though perhaps not a particularly uplifting–election season.

  5. I was expecting a more specific speech, not such a generalization-laden overworked “giddy-up” and let’s go boys and girls.
    Off topic, did DiNardo pay off his $20 million tax bill, or the interest on it? He has slipped off the screen.

  6. I saw people at the German Club who were thinking of a great future in Bridgeport and a very smart man who will embrace this second chance.
    This primary will not be close, Ganim is far and away the better person to lead our city.

  7. Here are Joe’s problems.
    1) He does not want to look backwards but to the future. He keeps saying that because looking back you see a convicted felon who stole millions from the city.
    2) He does want you to look back to see all the good that he has gotten credit for. Somehow we are supposed to see the Arena and Ballpark as monuments to what Joe has done but ignore the fact he got caught with his hand in the till while they were being built.
    3) He also wants partial credit for Steal Point and Downtown North because they were started during his administration but again please ignore the fact they were part of his corrupt enterprise.
    4) He has no plan for going forward. He sounds like a politician running for office the first time. He is going to cut taxes, increase spending on Public Safety and Public Education, increase spending on maintenance and cleanliness but cannot tell us how this will be done. Right or wrong Joe was not a hands-on mayor. He relied on his closest advisers, many of whom have moved on or stayed with the city.
    He thinks he has a story to tell but does not know where it should begin and how it should end.

    1. Bob Walsh, that was a very good post and respectfully presented.

      Sue Katz, great pictures. I would have liked to see Maria Pereira standing on her chair screaming “Win Joe, win.”

      It looked like a very nice well-attended event.

    2. Bob Walsh, to cut taxes, increase spending on Public Safety and Public Education, increase spending on maintenance and cleanliness; Bob, the only way that can be done is to cut the salary of City workers, huge layoffs, closing fire houses, closing libraries.

  8. Steve, how is it whenever I post an anti-Ganim blog it is well thought out and well articulated, but whenever I post something that is anti-Finch it is mean-spirited and not true?

  9. Joe Ganim forgot to mention we want a Mayor who has integrity and who is not a convicted felon for public corruption. We want a Mayor who will not make Bridgeport the brunt of jokes in the national media. We want a Mayor who will attract rather than repel developers. We want a Mayor who will make tough choices and hold the line on taxes. In summary, we want a Mayor who is competent, with integrity, who will make tough choices, and who will attract positive attention and development to Bridgeport. Is that too much to ask?

    1. David Walker, you are correct. There are three candidates who fit the bill. Mayor Bill Finch, Mary-Jane Foster and Howard Gardner who is picking up steam.


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