Kirk Wesley, who served as field director for Marilyn Moore’s mayoral primary bid, writes in a commentary “what has truly shocked and amazed me has been the campaign’s self-righteous approach to how its Absentee Ballot operation was able to get over 300 votes. During all this controversy, the campaign has portrayed itself as the standard bearer in Bridgeport politics. That is not the truth. There are numerous specific instances the campaign, and candidate Moore herself, engaged me in conversations about Absentee Ballots and suggested what should be done about them. In addition, I received calls from the campaign leadership and candidates about strategy on who to engage and hire to “chase ABs.”
My name is Kirk A. Wesley and I am resident of the city of Bridgeport. Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked on various campaigns in Connecticut and the Northeast, most notably serving as Deputy Field Director on Governor Ned Lamont’s campaign and the Field Director for Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s re-election campaign. Throughout my career, I’ve built a reputation as a hard-working grassroots community organizer who specializes in urban engagement. My intention was to not be involved in the 2019 Bridgeport mayoral cycle because I thought they were both very fine candidates. However, a chance encounter with Senator Marilyn Moore at a Farmer’s Market in mid-July led us into a 15-minute conversation where she explained to me some of the internal troubles her campaign was having. She asked for my help and after a lot of consideration I joined the campaign for the final 4 weeks. I helped the campaign put together a Paid Canvass and Get Out the Vote operation for Election Day. Frankly, I provided a level of expertise that they did not have before and my impact was evident by the results on Election Day.
I am writing this piece because I want it to be clear that in my role as Field Director I had nothing to do with the campaign’s Absentee Ballot operation. I never touched an application, ballot, or anything related to Absentee Ballots. With that being said, I have watched and read with shock and amazement the claims and counter claims of Absentee Ballot abuse leading up to the September 10th primary; however, what has truly shocked and amazed me has been the campaign’s self-righteous approach to how its Absentee Ballot operation was able to get over 300 votes. During all this controversy, the campaign has portrayed itself as the standard bearer in Bridgeport politics. That is not the truth. There are numerous specific instances the campaign, and candidate Moore herself, engaged me in conversations about Absentee Ballots and suggested what should be done about them. In addition, I received calls from the campaign leadership and candidates about strategy on who to engage and hire to “chase ABs.”
I’m saying something about this because it is the right thing to do. This conversation deserves balance and equity. Many people are upset about the result of the election, and rightfully so. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that both campaigns understood what it took to win and actively pursued those measures. One won and one did not. We learn and we move on. I wholeheartedly believe that Bridgeport deserves “fair and free elections” but I also believe that the people publicly leading that charge should be beyond reproach. My mother always told me to be careful when pointing my finger at someone because there will always be three pointing back at me. No campaign in this city is above scrutiny and the ballot access debacle is evidence that there were gaping organizational holes in this one that could and should raise concerns.
With an amazing Primary Day, there are many ways that the campaign could have leveraged the momentum from that win, but it has allowed a pivotal window to close by pursuing frivolous lawsuits and civil inquisitions. People like Stacy Abrams and Andrew Gillum are examples of African American candidates who have used unsuccessful campaign runs to raise higher awareness of voter engagement. That can still happen here but time is of the essence. Unfortunately, all we’ve witnessed since the election is good people have their names plastered in publications with accusations and insinuations. We’ve watched people have some of their worst mistakes rehashed and old wounds reopened. Good people. Real people with real lives and these actions have real ramifications on those lives. People who I know and worked with. People like Betty Chappell and Josephine Edmonds who worked hard for the campaign because they wanted to see a black woman become mayor. People I have grown to care about. They don’t deserve this. Bridgeport does not deserve this.
Bridgeport truly deserves more and, obviously, Moore for Mayor is not it.
Kirk A. Wesley is the owner of Wesley LLC, a grassroots mobilization and project management consulting company specializing in urban engagement and communications. Wesley has over 10 years of political campaign experience and organizing underrepresented communities around progressive candidates and initiatives https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaptainkirk185/.