The Town of Bridgeport was incorporated in 1821. The City of Bridgeport incorporated in 1836. At no time in the history of Connecticut’s most populous city has a local general election, be it candidates for office, or a charter question, or any of the above combined in a single cycle, experienced the money financing the Nov. 6 ballot question that if approved by voters will give Mayor Bill Finch the power to appoint school board members.
Yes, spending on this ballot question is historic.
“Shall the City of Bridgeport approve and adopt the Charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and approved by the City Council, including education governance reforms?”
OIB interviews with the various organizations, political action committees, independent expenditure groups associated with spending reveals roughly $750,000 will be spent by the time Nov. 6 hits. As a comparison no mayoral candidate in the history of the city has spent that kind of dough. In fact no two candidates combined for a mayoral general election has come close to the figure.
Voters are hearing from supporters on both sides of the issue through mail, radio, television, phones, news outlets, door knocks and more.
Supporters of a yes vote have at least three separate organizations spending loads of dough in a persuasion campaign with city electors. The primary driving force is a political action committee Residents for a Better Bridgeport www.residentsforabetterbridgeport.com comprised of the traditional organization backing Finch. They include campaign advisers, Democratic Party apparatus and public employees supportive of the mayor’s agenda.
The PAC, according to folks familiar with fundraising, will spend roughly $250,000, financed heavily by corporate checks courtesy of the regional business community.
The money is just warming up. Excel Bridgeport, www.excelbridgeport.com, the education reform group founded more than a year ago financed by Fairfield County business interests, is spending independently of Residents for a Better Bridgeport. That’s not all, folks.
Students First, the organization founded by lightning rod national education advocate Michelle Rhee, has hired an army of workers on the ground in support of a yes vote. Hiring 65 full-time campaign canvassers isn’t cheap.
The opposition, as well, has several organizations lending a hand in an effort to defeat the ballot question, albeit not the financial firepower of the Yes coalition. The opposition has united under the banner www.protectourvotingrights.wordpress.com that includes the teachers union Bridgeport Education Association, the education watchdog Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, the Connecticut Working Families Party that has three of its members on the elected school board and the voting rights Connecticut Citizens Action Group.
The opposition is pushing a no vote in mail pieces, radio, phone calls and field operations.
When you add the spending from all of the above, according to various operatives familiar with their respective financial plans, the tab is roughly $750K.