Hi Honey … I’m Coming Baaack! Lisa Parziale’s Return

John Stafstrom, Lisa Parziale, Joe Ganim, Hillary Clinton
When they were one big happy family in 1992. At left is City Councilman John Stafstrom, Parziale when she was City Council President and Mayor Joe Ganim, chatting with Hillary Clinton when she made a campaign stop in on behalf of presidential candidate Bill at the YMCA.

Lisa “Honey” Parziale, former City Council president and Democratic registrar of voters, told OIB she will be a candidate for her former West Side City Council seat in this year’s municipal election.

Oh baby, the political phone lines were burning up on Sunday during the Super Bowl pre-game festivities. Parziale’s candidacy adds a new dimension to this municipal cycle as Mayor Bill Finch seeks reelection against potential challengers Mary-Jane Foster who’s formed an exploratory committee and former Finch administration official John Gomes who has formed a candidate committee. East End Democratic Town Committee member Charlie Coviello has also formed an exploratory committee.

“I cannot sit by and watch my district become a casualty,” Parziale told OIB who’s unhappy with the direction of the city under Finch and Evette Brantley whom she had supported for council in 2007. Parziale is a cunning political operative with tons of legislative and political experience. She was first elected to the City Council in 1983 when Democratic nominee for mayor Charlie Tisdale lost to Republican incumbent Lenny Paoletta. In 1985 Democrat Tom Bucci defeated Paoletta and Parziale rose to power as council president in one of the wackiest evenings to select a leader of the city’s legislative body. Bucci had promised the council presidency to young councilman Chris Caruso who had served as Bucci’s campaign manager. (I was the communications director for that campaign.) The council presidency is appointed by the 20-member council body.

As the voice vote for council leader began, Caruso had secured a simple majority against challengers that included Ed Gomes (now a state senator) and Lisa Parziale. Thinking he needed 11 votes to secure the council presidency, a prevailing opinion based on city charter interpretation before court clarification, Caruso peaked at 10 votes. He could have declared himself the winner. After a number of voice votes, Gomes threw his votes to Parziale and presto she became leader of the body. She held that position for four years until Republican Mary Moran defeated Bucci in 1989. Parziale was elected council president again shortly after Joe Ganim defeated Moran in 1991. Parziale had served her first term on the council with popular West Side councilman Tom Mulligan who was elected city clerk in 1985. Bernie Katz replaced Mulligan on the council but was struck with illness and passed away. That’s when young lawyer John Stafstrom began his rise as a player in city politics. He replaced Katz on the council at the urging of Parziale and Bucci mayoral aide Joseph Grabarz who would eventually become the first openly gay political figure in the state after he defeated State Rep. Mario Testa (yes, that Mario Testa) in a primary. (That’s another story.)

John Fabrizi was elected council president in 1997, following a shakeup of council loyalties. Parziale remained on the council until she won the backing of party regulars, led by Town Chair Mario Testa, for Democratic registrar in 2002. Parziale and Stafstrom remained close for more than a decade until a falling out. Stafstrom backed Sandi Ayala for Democratic registrar in 2004 when he emerged as party chief after Testa resigned in 2003 to take public pressure off Fabrizi, seeking a four-year term, after he replaced Ganim as mayor when Joe was forced to resign following his public corruption conviction. (The president of the City Council becomes mayor when there is a vacancy.) Ayala defeated Parziale in the primary. Parziale backed Caruso for mayor in 2007. In 2008, Parziale challenged a Stafstrom-backed West Side town committee slate in a primary and she picked up three key votes. Plotting her revenge against Stafstrom she was instrumental in returning Testa over Stafstrom for control of the party in 2008.

An inadvertent F-bomb that Stafstrom left on the answering unit of Dottie Guman, the Mother Goose of the party, also galvanized some party regulars against Stafstrom. Testa asked Guman to run as party vice chair and Mario reemerged as chair in 2008. Guman’s son John Guman, a former City Council member, is serving as treasurer of Foster’s exploratory run, adding further intrigue to the mayoral race. Parziale says she has not decided whether she will seek the party endorsement (which appears to be available to her) or run as a party challenger. She has also not decided whom she’ll support for mayor. He relationship with Finch has been strained for years.

Parziale is aligned with a faction of the party that includes Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh, Caruso and State Senator Ed Gomes. Parziale and Walsh served as council partners. Walsh replaced Stafstrom on the council in the mid-1990s when the law firm Pullman & Comley, Stafstrom’s employer, was named city bond counsel.

Why is Parziale’s nickname Honey? It’s a declaration she uses often in conversation. But as a pol she can also sting with the best of them. Get ready for the buzz.



  1. *** I wish Lisa well & good luck. She & Walsh made a good team @ times & were very helpful towards me as a freshman councilman. In my opinion, a great team together for the 132th district should they both win this year. *** HERE WE GO! ***

  2. Things in this city will never change. You can bet Lisa has the necessary votes on her town committee to get the nomination. You can take this to the bank. Mike Freddino is the deciding vote that will give Lisa the 5 votes necessary to get the nomination.
    With Freddino in line it means Finch and company are in agreement with this move, otherwise Freddino would not have gone along (lemmings).
    What happens to Brantley? Hey Bill, is this the way you court the black ministers who can be a force to be dealt with?

  3. Oh TC! This could be more fun than you are letting your imagination imagine!

    Let’s say Lisa and friends have the votes for aldermanic endorsement, but decide they don’t want the endorsement if Finch is on the top line.

    She could always arrange to have two stiffs who should be in Mountain Grove Cemetery on the top line so that she and Troll run on the line of the mayoral-wannabe-to-be-maimed.

    That could NEVER happen in Bridgeport politics, right?

  4. Enlightened, nothing surprises me with this party. The last 3 years have been a giant-sized clusterf – – -. I don’t see Lisa doing that at this point. She and John Stafstrom have kissed and made up and she won’t go against his wishes at this point.
    I am not sure if the other 2 potential candidates are running full slates, if that’s the case what you say could happen although both candidates say they want a new beginning and want to separate themselves from the “machine.” Adding Lisa to either ticket would be adding a “machine person” thus impinging on their credibility.

  5. Enlightened–

    Two stiffs?

    Do you really think that could happen (to paraphrase our late and would-have-been-100-year-old President Reagan) “on our shining city on the hill?”

    Could it be in the city Mark Twain’s character confused with Camelot?

    Hook up the seat belts, boys and girls. Lisa is about to take you for a ride on Bridgeport’s Magical Mystery Political Machine like a goodly number in the game today have yet to experience.

    Honey, start your engine!!!

  6. As an aside, for all of the Alanna fans on the blog:
    Hello everyone,
    The Central Grants and Community Development Department would like to invite you to a farewell dinner party for Alanna Kabel on Feb 9th, please see the attached flyer for details!
    You can pay by check or cash to either Julianne Burdo or Jill Kuzmich in CGCD office.
    If paying by check we ask that you make it out to cash so that we can expedite payment to the venue.
    Thanks so much!

    Let’s show this girl a little love.
    But the shocking news is that it WILL NOT be at Testo’s. Vazzy’s 19 Hole will be the site for this soiree.

  7. Just when you think we might get a new car to drive somebody brings out an old beat-up Edsel with 4 bald tires. Honey, your sweetness has soured. If you love Bpt stay on the couch watching soaps, don’t confuse the politics in Bpt more than they already are. We don’t need any more followers, we need independent leaders. STAY OUT OF IT, your better days are behind you.

  8. Don’t tell me Bob Curwen finally got his city job? What dept is unlucky enough to get him? Let me guess: Public Facilities/Parks? He and CC are asshole buddies. Happy to see Finch is using his union concession money wisely.


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