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.
“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.
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.