Talk about someone who’s been through the political wars, Danny Roach has seen just about everything the past 40 years. In 2015, he was an early supporter and became campaign manager of Joe Ganim’s mayoral comeback.
The Black Rock Democratic district leader can be counted on for a healthy bloc of votes in one of Bridgeport’s most active neighborhoods. Nothing like a barkeeper to build up a following. “Danny, who we voting for?”
He and his wife Bonnie operate Matty’s Corner, a neighborhood bar and restaurant named for his late brother. For years, they’ve carried out the previous owner’s tradition of serving up a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for people who might otherwise be spending the holidays alone.
These days, Danny spends most of his time as the city’s director of government operations that includes positioning the municipally owned airport in Stratford for commercial flights, dormant for more than 20 years.
The fourth-generation Bridgeporter has worn a number of hats in politics and city life: City Council, St. Ann’s School Board, ex-Little League coach, current city police commissioner.
Here, he talks about the city, part of OIB’s interviews commemorating Bridgeport’s Bicentennial.
Q. What’s your first memory of Bridgeport?
A. I can remember my grandfather piling all the grandkids in his car and going to the amusement park at Pleasure Beach. Also my mom taking us on the bus to go shopping Downtown. Reads was our favorite stop, and I remember the ladies with the shiny gloves who operated the elevators there.
Q. What are your ties to Bpt., and what do you do, either work or volunteer work, that benefits the city and its residents?
A. I’m a fourth-generation resident on my mom’s side, third generation on my dad’s. I’ve owned a couple of businesses here, was a coach with Black Rock Little League for 20-plus years and was on the Saint Ann’s School Board among other things. Met a lot of nice people along the way.
Q. What do you like about Bridgeport?
A. The variety of things to do here. We have a fantastic beach at Seaside Park, an exceptional zoo, tons of restaurants with every cuisine you could think of, a top-notch comedy club Downtown with the Stress Factory, the list goes on and on.
Q. Where is your favorite spot in the city and why?
A. Walking around the seawall at Saint Mary’s By-the-Sea. The view is beautiful and you always bump into more than a few people that you know.
Q. What is your favorite eatery and what do you like there?
A. This is a tough one. I eat lunch Downtown quite a bit and there are a lot of great choices. I have to say my favorite restaurant in Bridgeport is a toss-up between “Eat Noodle” on Fairfield Avenue near the Bijou Theatre, and Famous Pizza, a South End classic.
Q. Where do you see Bridgeport going?
A. I see more development with exciting things coming. The new amphitheater is incredible. The waterfront will continue to grow with more things happening at Steelpointe and the rest of the harbor. The Cherry Street project will continue to revitalize the West End while the Civic Block project will do the same for the East End. Also, Downtown Bridgeport is now home to roughly 2000 residents and continues to grow as a popular living area.
Q. If you had a magic wand and could make a miracle happen for the city, what would it be?
A. The first thought that comes to mind would be to have the city getting fully reimbursed from the state or the federal government for all the tax-exempt properties that we service. Half of all the property in town is tax exempt, and a lot of these are servicing the entire region.