Hector Diaz, come out come out wherever you are? Hector’s no-show at the Democratic convention at Testo’s Restaurant Tuesday night left an eight to eight tie among delegates endorsing State Rep. Bob Keeley and his challenger, former City Councilwoman Auden Grogins. The tie required Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa to break the logjam. Mario selected Keeley, throwing the official endorsement to the incumbent.
What gives? Mario and Keeley have never been particularly close. Mario and Auden have never been particularly close. But Auden supported John Stafstrom for party leader in March while Keeley supported Testa. Mario decided to support the incumbent, a pledge he had made to Keeley in the event of a tie.
“I’m very excited,” Keeley told OIB after the vote. “You never know what’s gonna happen until you show up. The other side thought they had it and we pulled it off. After 30 years in politics, a lot of people came together.”
In the Twilight Zone that is Bridgeport politics, Keeley said, “I think Rod Serling paid Auden a visit.”
Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock, says the twilight episode is not over. She’s gearing up for a fight, and will wage a primary. “I’m ready. Mario Testa broke the tie for Keeley. I’m sure voters will want to hear all about that.”
Grogins says in door-to-door campaigning voters have told her they’re ready for a change. Because Keeley’s legislative seat is located in a single town district, Grogins will need to secure signatures from five percent of registered Democrats in the district, or approximately 250 signatures. That should not be a problem.
For his part, Keeley says he plans announcements shortly regarding money coming into his district, including $1 million for a new firehouse in the West End.
Former City Council member from Black Rock Pat Crossin, a Grogins supporter, was all fired up Tuesday night. “The machine voted for Keeley!”
Yes, city politics is a strange act, particularly since Keeley has long been a maverick pol. Black Rock District Leader Danny Roach was ripping mad at Diaz, whose support for Grogins, Roach said, was promised weeks ago. Well, Hector apparently changed his mind. Call him Hector Houdini.
In other endorsement action, City Councilman Carlos Silva won the endorsement over incumbent State Rep. Chris Caruso, as did Lydia Martinez over incumbent State Rep. Andres Ayala. Caruso is no stranger to primaries, nor Ayala. City Councilman Ezequiel Santiago won the endorsement to replace retiring State Rep. Felipe Reinoso. Longtime party regular Chico Rivera is vowing to wage a primary.
“I’m ready to go,” said Chico. “Let’s get it on.”
Cougar Whips It Good Downtown
Hey, everyone, don’t forget starting Thursday might at Baldwin Plaza, and going throughout the summer, the Downtown Community Council will be sponsoring outdoor movies, music, performance art, video installations, barbecuing, bocce and random artistic acts meant to, according to organizer Keith Cougar Rodgerson, disrupt Downtown’s catatonia every Thursday night between 6-10pm. Malcolm Tent will perform the acoustic songs of Devo. Whip It Good! A low budget feature, Ape — it’s supposed to be a Korean ripoff of King Kong – will be shown. No word whether Godzilla will show to create havoc.
Bring On The Mounties!
Michele Mount, Bridgeport’s legislative liaison, is hoping she’ll become part of the legislative body next January that she has ably jawboned on behalf of the city. Mount received the endorsement Tuesday night as the Democratic candidate for the 112th General Assembly district occupied by Republican State Rep. DebraLee Hovey. The district covers Monroe and southern Newtown.
Mount, who will resign her city position at the end of May to campaign, is the second key advisor to Mayor Bill Finch that will leave city service in his first six months. The other, Rina Bakalar, left the city to join the government staff of Congressman Christopher Shays. Mount’s father Carl Ajello served as Connecticut’s attorney general from 1974-82. See excerpt from Mount’s acceptance speech below:
Have you noticed that the word “change” has spread like wild fire through our vernacular? That’s because the word change has become the new word for hope.
I feel I can safely say that no one is happy with current state of our economy… no one wants our property taxes to continue to rise… or to see our children get short changed on their education. I’ve heard this quote by Benjamin Franklin many times, — The definition of insanity is to do the same things over and over and expect different results. I say to you my neighbors, we need different results and we need them now. That is why it is imperative to change the way we operate this state, change the level of accountability to the people and to the change the downhill course we are headed on. Change is hope.
As legislators we must be accountable to the people we represent. The very definition of public servant is to “serve the public.” I will bring a new accountability and fresh energy to Hartford on behalf of the 112th.
I know the toll that our unfair system of property tax is taking on every citizen in Connecticut and our area is no different. We must find long-term, creative solutions to make our towns less reliant on our already overly burdened tax payers. I will focus my efforts on the education and safety of our children… and leaving behind a world with clean air and open spaces. I also know that we need to take care of each other. We need to give tax relief to those who can no longer afford to live in the homes where they have lived for generations.
We have been complacent long enough. In the past 2 years we have watched our state go from a $263 million dollar surplus to a $80 million dollar deficit.
1) It is unacceptable that we have settled for a 38 cent return on every dollar we send to Hartford.
2) It is unacceptable that the state is shifting its responsibility to educate our children onto property tax payers.
3) It is unacceptable that we have to choose between new lab equipment at our high school or repairing our roads.
4) And it is unacceptable to point fingers without offering solutions. We need everyone working together to be effective, one voice is an empty monologue, many voices working in unison is a chorus for change.
My father once said, everyone has a different opinion, that’s why they line the horses up and make them run around the track. In politics everyone has policy differences, different approaches and styles, but the mark of a person’s character is how they deal with those differences. In order to find the best solutions, you must really listen with an open mind to what everyone is saying. Even if you can’t come to a complete agreement, people will respect you for trying, for listening and often times that leads to future collaboration and mutually satisfying results.
Good schools, lower property taxes, and safe neighborhoods are not Republican or Democratic, they goals shared by all. They are the real issues that should be priorities and they need to be addressed now. Connecticut must change its reliance on property taxes, fund our schools, stop creating unfunded mandates that drain the resources of our towns and our taxpayers’ budgets. Connecticut must stream line its government and we must enable our towns to begin working together to find solutions to rising costs that all towns share and that threatens everyone’s quality of life.