What started September 12 will continue into 2018. Citing absentee ballot abuse, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Thursday ordered yet another Democratic primary in the City Council 133rd District. The new primary for the North End district is scheduled for Feb. 6. The city is appealing to the state’s highest court declaring Bellis wrong on the law.
From Dan Tepfer, CT Post:
“The citizens of the city of Bridgeport expect and are entitled to integrity in the election process and a fair and honest election which they did not get,” the judge said. And for the second time she ordered a transcript of the hearing sent to the chief state’s attorney, the secretary of state and federal authorities.
… Robert Keeley, who lost the primary on Nov. 14 by 18 votes for the seat in the 133rd district against a Democratic Party-endorsed candidate, will now be back on the campaign trail.
“I’m going to be knocking on doors again” said Keeley moments after Judge Barbara Bellis’ decision.
Full story here.
Following the September 12 primary Keeley and incumbent Jeanette Herron were tied, with Michael DeFilippo, aligned with Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, the leading vote producer. The two top finishers go on to the general election. A previously uncounted absentee ballot found its way into the recount giving Herron a one-vote edge. Keeley challenged it in court and Bellis ordered another primary. In the do-over Keeley was down 18 votes to Herron with DeFilippo once again leading. Keeley, who failed to win the machine count, challenged the legality of his opponents absentee ballot operation. Bellis has concurred ordering another primary. Bellis said Testa prevailing upon Police Chief AJ Perez to assign a police officer to pick up absentee ballots was an abuse of the election process.
Deputy City Attorney John Bohannon who represented city election officials in the case disagrees. The city will appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court that has overturned Bellis on a couple of decisions.
“We believe that the court’s factual findings are contradicted by the evidence and that its interpretation and application of the relevant election laws is erroneous. Mr. Testa and Mr. DeFilippo acted perfectly consistent with the law. They requested that the police chief, Bridgeport’s highest law enforcement authority, assign a police officer to retain and return the absentee ballots of citizens who expressed a need for such assistance. Neither individual ever touched an absentee ballot.
Herron and outgoing City Council President Tom McCarthy continue to represent the district until successors are chosen. Meanwhile, a peer election for legislative leader is scheduled for Monday night. Some incoming councilors have suggested putting off a vote until the new district members are seated, but now that’s months away, given the February primary and a general election several weeks later.
And how does this election timetable shake out given expected primaries for Democratic Town Committee seats in March? A week or so later those committee members will choose a town chair. Paging Mario Testa.