Mike Marella, who served for more than 10 years on the City Council, recently registered to vote in the city as he seeks to reposition himself for a spot on the city’s legislative body with the status of Councilman Bob Curwen’s activity on the council in question. Curwen announced in January he was leaving the council for family medical reasons, but did not submit a formal resignation letter. He sold his Bridgeport house and moved to Virginia. Several council members say privately Curwen was trying to position his son to replace him on the council, which was met with resistance from both town committee members of the Upper East Side and councilmen who vote to fill vacancies.
Last week Curwen, the council’s master of malapropisms, announced he was “optimistically cautious” about returning to the council as his effort to position his son as his replacement hadn’t materialized. The welcoming party isn’t exactly overflowing for Curwen’s return.
Marella, the long-time executive director of the Police Activities League, was a key figure on the council in the 1990s. He left the council in 2001 and his seat was filled by his nephew Richard Paoletto. Marella had moved out of Bridgeport years ago. Two weeks ago he registered to vote with an address on Huntington Turnpike in the 138th Council District he once served. Paoletto says his uncle now resides in an apartment complex on Huntington Turnpike.
Marella was the council spearhead in the establishment of the Bridgeport Bluefish professional baseball team and subsequent building of Harbor Yard. He also served as co-chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Even though Curwen verbally announced his resignation and moved out of state there may be no legal obstacle for him to keep his seat because he did not submit a formal resignation in writing. According to elections officials Curwen is still registered to vote in Bridgeport at his former address. But that could become an issue for Curwen if elections officials conduct a canvassing of registered voters to determine applicable residency. If it’s determined he’s not a bona fide resident he could be knocked from the voter rolls preventing him from serving. He must be an elector in the district to serve.
Even if Curwen does return to the council he may have to primary to keep his seat in a council election year. A Democratic primary would take place in September. Paoletto for one would like his uncle to be his council partner. Bridgeport has 10 council districts with two members per district. Paoletto’s not happy with how Curwen handled his departure and now wants back in, saying there’s now a representation void in the district.
The council is now a body of 18 with Curwen a no-show and last week’s formal resignation of Black Rock Councilman Marty McCarthy. He’s expected to be replaced by Steven Stafstrom, an attorney who lives in Black Rock, at the council’s next meeting April 1.