It used to be Bridgeport’s state legislative delegation was looked upon with cringe-worthy laughter.
Why do you people keep electing chuckleheads? is a paraphrase of how leadership in Hartford looked upon locally elected lawmakers.
Bridgeport’s nine-member delegation is the largest in Connecticut. But the quality of decision makers sent to Hartford following Wednesday’s legislative session conclusion is showing tangible evidence of how relationships matter with people in power
For example State Rep. Steve Stafstrom, House chair of the lawmaking Judiciary Committee, who holds sway over courts, gun control reforms, judicial nominations.
Others have also built prestige with House Speaker Matt Ritter.
Chris Rosario, Antonio Felipe, Andre Baker, Fred Gee, Marcus Brown and Cristin McCarthy Vahey round out the House configuration.
As a unit the delegation jawboned an extra $17 million in state dough to help keep the local tax rate steady, boost education spending, wrangle $15 million to modernize the city’s 10,000-seat arena that will help keep the Bridgeport Islanders hockey team the anchor tenant.
Crafting local municipal budgets for any mayor is a leap of faith because the city’s budget process is finalized prior to the state financial conclusion. Sometimes breath-holding numbers are plugged in hoping the state support fills the gap.
The windfall gives Mayor Joe Ganim in an election year and city bean counters breathing room against the alternative budget gap.
“In my entire time in the legislature, this is one of the best budgets we put forward for Bridgeport,” says Rosario, who has served for nearly 10 years.
The delegation serves as a bridge between City Hall and the state capitol so communication between the delegation and mayor’s office to prioritize needs is also key, adds Felipe.