Decisions. Decisions. Several Bridgeport City Council members have more on their plate than examining Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed budget that starts July 1. Along with scrutinizing a budget that includes a major tax increase, layoffs, deep cuts to libraries and school nursing services, a handful on the legislative body must weigh their prospects for election to state office.
Party endorsements for state legislative seats take place next month with party primaries on Aug. 12. Balancing the demands of the budget with potential fallout of voting for a tax increase creates a sticky situation.
Let’s start with City Council President Tom McCarthy who’s weighing a challenge to Republican State Sen. Rob Russo who won the seat vacated by Finch. McCarthy has a dilemma. How to run for state senate with a full-time job in the city’s labor relations office while serving as council president with a nasty budget on the horizon. Basically the months of April and May are shot from active campaigning. And what if a Democrat from Trumbull in the three-town senate district steps up to wage a primary?
If McCarthy says no to a run, the council’s budget chairman Bob Curwen must decide if he wants to challenge Russo. Curwen, as budget chair, will have more council-related meetings to attend in the next two months than McCarthy. Curwen, no fan of former Democratic leader John Stafstrom, is an ally of new party chair Mario Testa. Major Mario, no doubt, is balancing all the match-up possibilities.
Michelle Lyons, who represents the North End, is contemplating a run against State Rep. Jack Hennessy. In chatting with Lyons last week I did not sense that she has made a final decision. She’s still sorting through family considerations, council matters and the time required to wage a competitive race against an incumbent. East Side council member Rich Paoletto is contemplating a run against State Rep. Chris Caruso who is popular in his legislative district.
Council candidates could come out of the budget mess tainted or elevated. Can they replace Finch’s cuts to the library, health clinics and dental programs–services that help the needy–with reductions to departments less public? Finch’s library staff cuts represent $1,155,356, school nursing $964,967 and dental hygiene $341,027. Where do they make up more than $2 million?
One high-profile legislative race that seems certain is former council member Auden Grogins’–the blonde banshee from Black Rock–-challenge of State Rep. Bob Keeley, the longest serving legislator in city history. Keeley’s district takes in the lower North End, West Side and Black Rock. That will be a riot to cover. Two strong personalities.
I asked Keeley about challenging Grogins to a mud-wrestling match at Ellsworth Field in Black Rock. “I’m not afraid of the mud!”
How’s Your Health?
City Hall news release
City of Bridgeport and Housatonic Community College Offer Community Health Fair in Bridgeport
The City of Bridgeport’s Department of Health and Social Services, together with Housatonic Community College, will sponsor the Fifth Annual Community Health Fair on Monday, April 7th from 10:00am to 4:00pm at Housatonic Community College at 900 Lafayette Boulevard in Bridgeport.
The health fair is free and open to the public. The theme of the fair is “Living Green: Our Health and Our Environment.”
Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) and the Housatonic Community College’s Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Avis Hendrickson will host a short program beginning at 10:30am in the main atrium of the college. The winners of the “Living Green” poster contest will be announced and students from Central High School ’s Profiles Theatre Group will perform in the Performing Arts Center.
Mayor Finch said, “I urge all residents to take advantage of this free and informative health fair and learn more about what we can each do to lead healthier lives. Part of my administration’s mission is to create a healthier Bridgeport, and I am happy that our Department of Health and Social Services is spearheading this effort.”
Over 70 vendors will offer information, screening and testing in areas such as bone density; blood pressure; cholesterol; body max index (BMI); HIV; postural analysis; sickle cell disease; dental hygiene; nutrition; lead poisoning; breast cancer and glaucoma. Environmental booths include exhibits by MetroPool and the Garbage Museum of Connecticut. Free massages, raffles and giveaways will also be offered.
The health fair is sponsored by Healthnet and radio station WVOF. The radio station will be airing live throughout the day with music and interviews. For more information call the Health Department at 203-576-7680 or Housatonic Community College at 203-332-5062.