Mother Goose Says Goodbye To City Politics–Laments Finch Mayoralty

Moore, Caruso, Guman
Dottie Guman, right, with former State Rep. Chris Caruso and political activist Marilyn Moore at an OIB party two years ago.

Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Dottie Guman has bid farewell to the city in which she became a nurse, raised her children, observed campaign life from her political warrior husband John D. Guman Jr. and then followed in his footsteps after he passed away, albeit a much more reserved approach to politics, if just as dedicated to the candidates she chose to support. Guman, the Mother Goose of the city’s Democratic Party, has sold and moved out of her house on Hickory Street in the city’s Upper East Side where she built a political base.

Guman, who currently resides with her son in Trumbull, will soon tender her resignation as a party officer. Guman is a rarity in the cutthroat world of city politics, when it’s often difficult to sort out friends and enemies. She’s reliable, honest and her word is steely solid. She served as an important bridge between Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa and party regulars. When Mario was unapproachable, taking his daily afternoon siesta, fighting with a district leader, Dottie was always available. Mario could hand off an assignment to Guman, a political party fundraiser, a campaign event, a headquarters opening and it would get done.

Some party regulars questioned Guman’s friendship with Mario with whom she’s had her differences from time to time, but she wasn’t bashful telling the political leader how she felt about a political or government concern. Some people are built on loyalty. Never was it more tested in Guman’s relationship with Mayor Bill Finch. Guman was the godmother of Finch’s political career, the one who looked after him when he needed someone the most. Sadly, her political career in Bridgeport ends with Finch serving as her biggest disappointment, in how he governs, in how he treats people, in misplaced priorities and missed opportunities. Five years on the job, Guman says, and what has Finch done to advance the city economically?

In the early 1990s when Finch was out of work and could not find work with two young boys to feed, it was Dottie Guman who stepped up for Finch, even in the face of opposition from her husband who viewed Finch as unfocused, unreliable, undisciplined, a stubborn know-it-all with a habit of sticking foot in mouth. Dottie Guman had a maternal bond with Finch. She saw him as a talented person who was hurting. Finch had bounced around from job to job, fired from this one, lost that one. Bill Finch, as a member of the city council, was a heartbeat away from homelessness. Financially, he had nothing. Late on mortgage payments, late on tax payments, late on child support payments, chased by bill collectors. “We have to help Bill,” she’d say. And she did. Campaign work, city work, transit authority job, economic development job. Dottie Guman expended her political capital on Finch.

Some financial stability came to Finch in the late 1990s when he was hired as executive director of the Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation, followed by his election to the State Senate, both efforts aided by Dottie Guman. If not elected to the State Senate, Bill Finch would not be mayor today.

When political developments positioned Finch for the mayoralty, Dottie Guman was there again. Power can do strange things to people and shortly after his election as mayor in 2007, Finch became unrecognizable to Guman, much more like her late husband had predicted. Worse was when Finch directed apoplectic, curse-filled rants at Dottie Guman because she dared to question mayoral decisions. Understand that Dottie Guman’s way of cursing is uttering “He’s full of prunes.” A trend was developing for Finch. He kicked people in the teeth and expected unconditional love in return.

The only thing Dottie Guman wanted from Finch was respect, true word and a little more common sense in his approach to governing. On the campaign trail in 2007 Guman called out Finch on his pledge to cut taxes $600. She knew it was a lie. He ended up raising taxes $600 his first year. Then he attempted to double dip his mayoral check and State Senate pay, something that blew up publicly. Finch got off to an awful start as mayor. To Guman’s way of thinking, Finch was more interested in what the job could do for him, than what he could do for the job.

A flashpoint occurred in the Guman-Finch relationship when Dottie’s son, John, became treasurer of Mary-Jane Foster’s campaign for mayor. Bottom line: John Guman would never have become treasurer of the Foster campaign had he thought Finch was an effective mayor. Foster, too, would not have run had she thought the same, irrespective of Finch’s hostility toward the University of Bridgeport where Foster serves as vice president. Finch won the 2011 Democratic primary, but Foster who had low name recognition when she started her campaign in early 2011, and had not sought public office prior, received 43 percent of the vote on the machines being outspent two to one. Finch managed to win his home school Beardsley by just a couple of votes. Guess Dottie Guman’s home precinct? Had Finch been a popular mayor he’d have blown out Foster by 50 percentage points.

Dottie Guman did not openly support Foster but if she had Finch would have lost his home school. For the most part she treated the race with benign neglect.

Further erosion came with Finch’s support of a mayoral-appointed Board of Education. Dottie Guman was against giving Finch more power. Voters agreed.

So Dottie Guman leaves her Bridgeport political life with sweet and sour memories. Sweet for the friendships she built, the people she helped and sour for at least one person too stubborn to know the difference.



  1. Take care, Dot!

    One of my fond memories on Election Day as a reporter was making the rounds of city neighborhoods, swinging by Hickory Street, knocking on the back door and entering the kitchen nerve center of East Side politics for that part of the neighborhood. (Neighbors would be coming through with voter sheets. John was usually lying on his back on a church pew bench smoking a cigar. Dot was usually on the kitchen wall phone coordinating the vote turnout.)

  2. Thanks for what you did for Bridgeport!!!

    Dottie Guman is one of the few people I met in my 30-plus years in politics who was honest and kept her word. I am proud to claim Dottie as a friend.
    Bill Finch, you truly are an asshole for turning your back on Dottie and for the disrespect you have shown her. Without her you would be selling hotdogs from a pushcart.
    Dottie, whereever you end up residing you will be a benefit to that town or city, their gain is our loss.
    Dottie, get out those dungarees.

  3. Hickory dickory dock
    Mother Goose moves out the block
    The clock struck one
    Mother Goose left town
    Hickory dickory dock
    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

    Hickory dickory dock
    The Finch went to the block
    Mother Goose wasn’t around
    The Finch went back to downtown
    With a big reversed frown
    Hickory dickory dock
    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

  4. *** Good luck to her wherever she goes! I’ve talked briefly to her before in the past every now and then but never really got to know her very well during my time in politics. Seems like many good folks who have been in Bpt for a while through the good and bad lately if given the opportunity would leave! Fleeta Hudson, Dottie’s friend may be the next to exit (politics anyway). This city has seen its better days in the past with nothing but empty political promises facing us in the future! Honestly, a new school every three years that’s been on the school building committee’s blackboard for 10 years or converting brownfields in some of the city’s neglected neighborhoods into small parks along with more steel point, educational and economic development promises are yet to become positive giant steps towards progress for this city. Raising the mil rate and taxes in general, flatlining education, hiring more political cronies with high salaries without the council’s needed vote anymore, less and less city government transparency, etc. have become far too common more and more with this administration. And let’s not forget the plight of the Charter Revision debacle, no? *** WELCOME TO ZOMBIELAND ***

  5. I went to Frankie’s Diner tonight to make a statement, that’s another story, but if you want to know go to my Facebook page and read my latest posting. Anyway, I grabbed one of the free newspapers on my way into the diner. The paper is one that is mainly distributed in the Springfield Mass. area and I was surprised to see an article from–drum roll please–Maria Zambrano, Executive Liar of Excel Bridgeport. The paper is one that is aimed at the African American community and you can visit their web site at www (don’t click on it yet). I have the December 1, 2012 paper version where there is another article from her in which she announced the defeat of the ballot question. Now I’d like for you to go to this link from last month and read for yourself to see how Excel is playing the African American community and if you read her December 1 article, you’ll see she is still deceiving and lying to the people. Click here and read:

  6. Well, maybe it is me. I have lived in Bridgeport for 45 years. I have been a Democrat for 25 years. I have never met Dottie Guman. I only met Mario Testa during the Foster Campaign and it was not an attractive confrontation. The tribute to Dottie Guman was very sweet and heartfelt, but it also has shown the ugly side of politics. Bill Finch may in fact be the selfish self-centered egotistical full of himself guy who could never hold a job and has gotten a hand from a lot of people and never felt he owed them anything in return. I never thought that of Finch. It was not what I saw but maybe now I see some aspects. I must admit I like to see the positive side of people and may have had my head stuck up my ass. But there was something very disturbing about this article. Why would anyone go so far back in Finch’s career and discuss his inability to hold a job and almost being homeless with two kids? I did not understand that part of the article. Did the Guman tribute have to be a Finch assassination? The issue with Finch and Guman may be personal and we may never know. I do not give a crap what their issue was or is. I have never met Dottie Guman and I will assume she is a lovely lady. Bill Finch has no love for me because I supported Mary-Jane Foster. I am no longer interested in his personal feelings toward me. I only care that he keeps this city moving in a positive direction. His legacy will not be defined by the vote on the BOE. It will be on development and lowering our taxes. I am forever an optimist. I wish Ms. Guman a peaceful retirement outside of the city of Bridgeport. For those of us who choose to live here, the battle goes on. People change. Maybe Finch will change. Maybe he will surround himself with sincere people who will keep him from developing a Messiah complex. He will evolve. Bridgeport will thrive and a new generation of politicians will keep Bridgeport vital and exciting. If Finch does not deliver there will be another election. I will not hope for his failure. I hope he succeeds. Good luck to both Dottie and Bill. Again, just from a humanity point of view I did not think it was necessary to bring up all of the hard times of the Mayor’s past. To embarrass him and his family was just plain cruel.

    1. First may I say, hi Steve and happy Holidays! Good to have you weigh in.

      Now, I must say so much of Dottie’s story is intertwined with Bill’s that in order to narrate the Dottie story properly, you have to know the Finch connection. Almost every time, in my limited Bridgeport political experience, when Dottie’s name has been mentioned, a similar story followed. I know it may seem a bit excessive, but it is what it is. This is her story.

      A splendid lady is departing the Bridgeport political scene and we wish her the world! A splendid lady who just got tired of getting defecated on by her number-one prodigy.

      BTW, if this story mortified you, then maybe it did what it was supposed to do.

      Miss you wildly! ~Z

    2. Steve, sometimes the truth does indeed hurt. Finch’s past is relevant to how he sometimes treats people. There is a decent, caring side to Finch, but also a troubling side to him that prevents taxpayers from the full benefit of his ability. If Finch followed decency as a consistent example as well as an even temperament the city would be better off. There are a number of things about Finch’s personal life, even some going on right now, I choose not to publish out of fairness and because I consider him a friend.

  7. Paging my OIB friend Brick. You are about to get OIBrick slapped, BIG TIME! I know I’m going off to another previous topic here, but is relevant in the way we must make sure, with the departure of Mother Goose, we remain strong, committed and vigilant more than ever as we are losing good people and we must make sure their replacements aren’t placed there by the opposition or bad forces. The education reformers like Excel and their like are still plotting to take control of the BOE or anything of value to them. They’ll use every method conceivable even if it means breaking the rule of law. Having said this, on November 27, 2012, I commented on the City Council Vulnerability topic and the quote below is a small part of what I wrote and it caused OIB poster ‘Brick’ to reply at 12:10 pm that day as shown below.

    “… surely Bob Curwen should stay. I know Andy Fardy will say: They both are pieces of shit. I can’t present a strong enough defense on that argument.

    Brick // Nov 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Hey Mojo … Haven’t seen you at a meeting in Easton for a while. Come by the next meeting, let’s chat!

    BTW Joel, I don’t remember seeing Andy call anyone a P.O.S. so I don’t think he’d appreciate you putting words in his mouth. He might disagree with a lot of things, but he has enough class not to talk like that; and personally, I’d appreciate if you didn’t either.

    I responded to the reply at 3:00pm and at 5:11 pm Mojo commented and you can read what was written.


    Joel Gonzalez // Nov 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Hey Brick, let’s not pretend as if people–elected officials in particular–in Easton or Bridgeport are so classy as to not use language that is offensive to people. Did you read the language on the ballot question for example? Had you read between the bricks of the language, you would have read exactly what they think of Bridgeport voters. Andy Fardy and just about all OIB posters have called others P.O.S. at one time or another. Go to the OIB archives and read between the bricks of many comments and you should notice what most of us have been saying is we have a P.O.S. problem in Connecticut. My OIB goal has always been to try to help those Prisoners of Stupidity escape and read between that brick wall that has been quietly built around them. Thank you for providing us with another example of how certain people from the suburbs think they have more class than others. OIB is not a church.


    Mojo // Nov 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    *** Let’s be nice now, that’s a fellow brother of mine from Easton! And I must apologize for not attending any past church meetings in Easton. “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?” ***

    To respond to Mojo’s question or plea, I’ll say sometimes, yes. But, with people like Brick and on the issue of BOE reform, they way they want to do it, hell no! After reading the Maria Zambrano articles in African American Point of View, I made the decision of taking no prisoners. I’ll leave that to the Corrections Department.

    What does this have to do with Brick? In his reply to me, Brick wrote: “Hey Mojo … Haven’t seen you at a meeting in Easton for a while …”
    He then went on to reprimand me. Mojo later responded with this: “Let’s be nice now, that’s a fellow brother of mine from Easton! And I must apologize for not attending any past church meetings in Easton.” When I read and processed all this, a RED FLAG went up in my brain and I knew where to look to piece together the puzzle.

    Lastly, let’s put the ‘Brick’ puzzle together and start by reading this comment from Brick on August 22, 2012.

    Brick // Aug 22, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Do you also want to vote for the WPCA commissioners? They handle more sh*t than anyone!

    I disagree that the general public is capable of voting in a capable, function BoE and I’m going to vote to allow the mayor to appoint the board.

    If you have read correctly so far, you should have noticed that Brick has recently stated that he’s been in Easton. This is confirmed by Mojo: “that’s a fellow brother of mine from Easton.”

    Brick has been commenting on this blog sounding like he is from Bridgeport and expressing his support for the yes initiative to give the mayor of Bridgeport the power to appoint the BOE members and take the voting right of Bridgeport residents. “I’m going to vote to allow the mayor to appoint the board.” The problem here is Brick lives and is from Easton. Did I get it all wrong? Must someone hit me on the head with a Brick to get my memory working correctly? This is how outsiders come into Bridgeport and pillage the town. By all means necessary! Let’s wait and see if Brick will respond from behind the Brick wall on the Easton and Bridgeport border or perhaps brother Mojo will back him up.

      1. A detailed comment on what? Certainly not in synch with the topic. Just for the record, do you realize how many times you use “I” in your garbled postings?

  8. ??? Bible study sites can move from Bpt to Easton to Trumbull and Fairfield, etc. depending on the guest speaker or who’s turn it is in the diocese, no? ??? The rest is Greek to me! ???

  9. *** Is it possible the wait time on the “Bass Pro Shops” has been extended? These things happen in the urban development world but can seem like an “omen” to Bpt taxpayers. As John would say, “time will tell,” no? ***

  10. Happy trails, Dottie.

    You are one of the “good guys” in Bpt politics. If, over the years, Bridgeport had had more people with your integrity, the city would now be in a much better place.

      1. Are you suggesting Mario holds a goose-roasting event? It would be a very interesting and nice event I’m sure. She truly is one of the ‘ladies’ of the Democratic party.

  11. Lennie: Any idea if Dottie is going to get involved in Trumbull politics? It’s no secret Nancy DiNardo despises Tim Herbst so I’m wondering if Nancy will have Dottie run the campaign of Herbst’s opponent for First Selectman in 2013 (did someone say Anthony Musto???).


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