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“Not Going Away,” Newton Ponders City Council Run

December 10th, 2016 · 43 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, City Politics

Newton in maroon

Newton is usually good for lively threads at a City Council meeting.

Voter rejection to the state legislature in 2012 and 2014 is not deterring Ernie Newton from considering a 2017 run for City Council where he launched his political career as a young city music teacher in 1981 on his way to becoming head of the legislative body. The self-proclaimed Moses of his people asserts there’s a lot of work to do on behalf of his East End constituency.

Newton says he may run, but that depends on the future of James Holloway, the most senior member of the City Council who for years has threatened not to seek reelection. Holloway, a city employee, was first elected in 1991. Eneida Martinez also represents the 139th District on the council.

“There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of economic development and jobs,” says Newton. “I’ve been there before and I’m still here on behalf of my people. I’m not going away.” He’s also critical of what he terms abusive  homeowner foreclosures by the Water Pollution Control for lack of payment.

Newton left the council for a long run in the State House before his election to the State Senate after the death of Alvin Penn in 2003. A federal investigation led to corruption charges and he was sentenced to five years. Returning to Bridgeport he started his plan for a political comeback to public office. Newton finished a close second to Andres Ayala in a 2012 Democratic State Senate primary in which incumbent Ed Gomes was defeated. Gomes reclaimed the seat in a special election when Ayala was appointed commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles by Governor Dan Malloy. Ayala resigned shortly after assuming command following a series of organizational gaffes within the department.

It appeared Newton, as the endorsed candidate in 2014, was headed back to the State House when Don Clemons, now the Town Clerk, decided not to seek reelection in the 124th Assembly District. Andre Baker, who served on the City Council and Board of Education, jumped in to primary Newton at the urging of then-Mayor Bill Finch’s political organization. Baker won. Newton was facing fallout from the 2012 State Senate primary in which state investigators charged him with violating state campaign finance laws. Newton went to trial, was convicted on one of the lesser charges, and received a six-month sentence. It’s currently under appeal.

Since that time Newton has not gone away. He’s a member of the Democratic Town Committee and also a member of Democratic State Central Committee that conducts state party business. Last week Newton also joined several African American political figures criticizing the city’s rank demotion of Lieutenant Lonnie Blackwell for alleged involvement in the fabrication of a racial Police Department letter. Blackwell refutes the charges.

Newton is also a regular face at City Council meetings.

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43 Comments so far ↓

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    There has to be a state law barring two-time felons from holding public office.

    • Ron Mackey

      There is a law, it’s called voting. If you don’t want a person in office then don’t vote for him. Oh that’s right, you don’t live in his district.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Great. We have a convict for mayor and we have another one thinking of running for office. Ernie, for the sake of the city, find something else to do.

  • Frank Gyure

    Okay, this is all fine. If Ernest Newton wants to jump in, GO FOR IT. BUT who came up with this self-proclaimed “Moses of his people?”

  • Steven Auerbach

    I have to agree with Ron Mackey. In the old days I would have to agree with Andy Fardy. Ernie has every right to run for office. He is a politician. He will have to convince people he is up for the job and has a platform. Ernie has a history with area residents. If they feel Ernie can deliver, good for them.

    Personally, I believe as a person who embraces the entire city, the East End has been shortchanged for decades. I am not sure if Ernie was part of the problem or part of the solution. There has been a lot of water under the bridge. Ernie has served his time. Ernie may in fact be a new and improved man who is determined to change the legacy of the East End, Steelepointe, Pleasure Beach and some very lovely neighborhoods that have been stigmatized for decades. Newfield Park is beautiful. I think Ernie should run if that is his desire. I want to believe in a new and improved Ernie Newton. I want to believe he will fight and deliver money to the East End. There is so much potential. Good Luck!

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Ernie, please just get a job in the private sector, enough is enough. Holy cow.

    • Ron Mackey

      Harvey, if Joe Ganim can run for mayor of the largest city in Connecticut and get elected, then why can’t Ernie Newton run for the City Council?

      • Harvey Weintraub

        Not saying he can’t, just saying I wish he wouldn’t.

        • Lisa Parziale

          Harvey, Ron Mackey is right, as is Steve. If Ernie is willing and dedicated to step in, he will be bringing a wealth of experience to a body that has been sorely lacking in the willingness to learn and remember why they sit in a Council seat. The backstory does not carry importance the performance would bring. I don’t know how serious Ernie is, but his voice would benefit not only his area of the City, but the City in general. Most importantly, he would bring a spirit of independence and vigilance that has been lacking for years on the City Council. I’ve been critical, and frustrated since the likes of Bob Walsh, Ed Gomes and Andre Baker left. The void left since that time has not been the fault of the members serving, it has been the lack of leadership and experience they missed.

          • Harvey Weintraub

            Lisa, I respect your opinions and I can understand what you’re saying. It’s just my first thought was this guy is a leech, sucking what he could out of the city (much like a few other elected officials btw), but I guess if he can shake things up in our stagnant city a bit at this point, have at it. Hey, maybe we can get John Rowland to move here and take a post in this admin also!

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Look all you bleeding hearts, how many bites of the apple does this crook get? The latest scam was trying to take over the recycling operation run by the city. He had the help of John Ricci and even that did not work.
    Ernie has represented the East Side for years and what has he done?

  • Stringfellow

    Despite Ernie’s past good or bad nothing of real substance has happened to the East End. There are far too many abandoned buildings that have to come down. The street has a bad reputation that is going to be hard to shake. The talk of a grocery store and pharmacy had been just that, talk. The ferry was supposed to move to Seaview Avenue. Until someone takes a real interest in the East End it is going to stay just the way it is.

    It’s a sad truth despite what Ernie or anyone else wants.

    • Frank Gyure

      If there are abandoned buildings on the East Side, that is really an awful sign that the Death Spiral has begun in Bridgeport and it will spread. I warned against this with the Death Spiral budget and mil rate set by Ganim, his out-of-town finance guru Ken Flatto and the Twenty Clueless Ones on the City Council. No redevelopment. No one moving into Bridgeport. People are moving OUT. No reinvestment in residential properties. Steelpointe might come to a dead halt as developers see a dying city. Rental rates were hiked but people are not renting at the higher rates, forcing residential property owners to lower rental rates and offer other “specials.” Houses for Sale EVERYWHERE but you can only sell at fire-sale prices. Owners are just sending keys to the mortgage holders and walking away. You go into City Hall and you get verbal abuse from City employees and it’s even worse when (IF??) you speak to a political hack who is head of that city department.

  • Donald Day

    How many black mayors has Bridgeport had since its inception? Don’t bother answering that question, it’s rhetorical. When Bridgeport elects a mayor who cares as much about the Black community as they do about Black Rock or the North End then there will be movement to make the East End a better place to live. Place the blame where it belongs and that ain’t Ernie, that’s the fault of apathetic white mayors like Ganim and everyone prior to Ganim who treat the Black community like shit until it’s election time.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      You know Day, you and Mackey preach the same crap. Put the blame clearly where it belongs on the so-called black leaders and clergy. The problems exist because of the division with the Hispanic community. Both sides are too busy playing mine’s bigger than yours to get anything done.
      The black community keeps electing idiots to the council and are easily bought off with jobs.
      Let’s talk about that large pile of rocks owned by O & G. That’s been there for more than 30 years and until this year not a peep from the representatives from that area. Donald you and Mackey are one-trick ponies.

      • Ron Mackey

        Andy, you are showing your true colors, you pick and choose what Don and I say. We have pointed out by name black individuals and organizations that are doing nothing to help the black community, in fact just ask anyone who you think is a black leader and ask them did they like what Don and I have said about them. Andy, people read through your one-sided narrative of us, we have never had a problem calling out anybody who is not doing what’s best for blacks and what’s best for Bridgeport. Andy you can’t find anyone black calling out other blacks like we do and we have problem calling you out when you start your bullshit.

        • Andrew C Fardy

          Mackey, calling out? That’s bullshit, you and Day for the most part have no problem calling out the entire white population of Bridgeport. Hey Day, how many black cops are on the Ansonia PD? Why don’t you work on Valley problems? You don’t live here anymore so your opinion means squat.

      • Eric Alicea

        I think the lack of leadership from the Black community is the reason there is an S-curve on Stratford Ave leading to the East End. You can’t tell me when they designed the highway, they couldn’t make Stratford Ave a straightaway. The East End is cut off from the city due to that darn S-curve.

  • Ernie Newton

    Andy, I was not going to respond to you but I feel I have to. In 1981 I took office on the city council as President of the city council. The Bridgeport Firebirds had to go to court to fight the city and the fire dept for its racist discrimination. Lenny who was MAYOR at the time agreed with the judge’s findings. YOU and the other white firefighters were against it. The sad part is the Firebirds had to go to court for justice. So Andy while you like pointing fingers at everyone else you should take a look in the mirror and see how much MONEY YOU and your FRIENDS COST THIS CITY!

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Ernie, you don’t know squat about what went on. We lost because the city caved in. Twenty years or so later New Haven went to the supreme court with a case exactly like ours and the unions won and the city lost. Ernie, the Firebirds over the years have not cost the city a ton of money. Ernie, I bet you don’t know what discrimination was claimed.
      Ernie, all the way back to 1981 and not a peep about the O & G site until this year. You are nothing more than a professional BS artist and professional black man.

      • Donald Day

        Andy, Ernie is absolutely correct, it was you and your ilk who cost the City of Bridgeport millions of dollars because you wanted to perpetuate the practice of racism and discrimination on the BFD. The city never caved in, in fact they lost in court, lost in appeals court and tried to have this case heard before the Supreme Court, which refused to hear that loser.

        The New Haven case is absolutely Nothing like the case that was here. The New Haven case dealt with a promotional exam not hiring like Bridgeport and when that case went before the Supreme Court it was clearly defined for that case only. How do I know? Because Mackey and I are cited in the minority decision written by Justice Ginsburg. Do yourself a favor and read this decision prior to spewing garbage out of that trashcan you call a mouth.

        • Ron Mackey

          Don, you notice Andy doesn’t say jack about white females not being hired as Bridgeport firefighters because he believes they are not smart and strong enough to be firefighters but they can be smart and strong to become police officers. In fact a neighbor who is a white female was on the Bridgeport Fire Department before they gave the CPAT and she left the fire dept to become a Bridgeport Police officer and she was promoted this year to the rank of Sergeant.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Mackey, now you know what I think. Who are you, the great Kreskin? If you are talking about my neighbor, she was never on the FD and never even applied. She is a top-flight third-generation cop. Mackey, stop putting bullshit here. BTW she is a patrolwoman. It is quite obvious you are making all this shit up just like you and Day did when you were on the job and you even got your cohort Newton involved.

          • Ron Mackey

            Andy, I have no need to make anything up. Andy, it’s the “neighbor” who is a white female who was on the Bridgeport Fire Department before they gave the CPAT and she left the fire dept to become a Bridgeport Police officer and she was promoted this year.
            Promoted to the Rank of Lieutenant:
            Sergeant Nancy O’Donnell

          • Ron Mackey

            Andy, Nancy O’Donnell is my neighbor and Nancy O’Donnell has shown a female can be a good firefighter with the ability to be not only smart but strong and fast enough to be a firefighter and then she leaves the Bridgeport fire department to become a Bridgeport police officer. On Jan. 15, 2016 Sergeant Nancy O’Donnell was promoted to the Rank of Lieutenant. And what is the reason for CPAT?

            Mayor Ganim, it was you who swore in Nancy O’Donnell to the rank of Lieutenant, well there are many more Nancy O’Donnells out there in Bridgeport of all races and ethnic groups. Think about this, in the last three entry-level firefighter exams there were 100% men and 0% women. Mayor Ganim, this is discrimination on your watch as mayor of the largest City in Connecticut and that’s the picture of your administration.

  • Ernie Newton

    Andy, I’m not talking about New Haven I’m talking about Bridgeport and WE DID’NT Hear a Peep from you when you sat back and watched the discrimination going on in OUR FIRE DEPT. No, The Firebirds didn’t cost us MONEY. YOU and The WHITE FIRE DEPT DID!

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Listen Ernie, there were no minorities on the job. The working firefighters had nothing to do with testing or hiring. We did fight the changing of entry exams and promotional exams so the right number was reached. Oh how wrong you are, Mackey and Day and their ilk cost us a bundle. You guys have got to stop crying. These guys and many others did not apply for the job and claimed they were afraid of being harassed, which is just bullshit like most of the racist crap they put on OIB.

  • Frank Gyure

    IMHO, ALL those who claimed a leadership role in the East Side Community are to blame for the present situation. Obviously, the demise of the East Side is part of the industrial collapse of Bridgeport. I remember going to shop with my mother at Skydel’s on East Main Street. All the community leaders, including Mr. Ernest Newton need to take their share of the blame but they can also see what their activities have led to. NO PROGRESS, NO IMPROVEMENT, and maybe they will have “seen the light” and finally provide REAL leadership.

  • Frank Gyure

    The O&G poison pile on Seaview Avenue is a perfect example of the failure of East End Community leaders. East End leaders did nothing until Ganim, R.Christopher Meyer and other East End lackeys had their PR news conference in front of the Seaview site. Ganim called it Trashmore II. But Ganim and company are saying zilch/zero about O&G moving their poison pile to the West Side.

  • Donald Day

    Frank, what could Ernie or any other black bring to the East End without the assistance, the blessings or the wherewithall of every white Mayor who has been elected in Bridgeport? No City Council person black or white can bring development to their district without the Mayor’s involvement. If every white Mayor in the last 30 years chose to ignore the East End or chose not to spur development in the East End, that is Ernie’s fault how?

    This is more of a failure of the residents of the East End who continue to vote for white Mayors who ignore their community except when it’s election time.

    • Frank Gyure

      Donald Day, some truth to what you have said, but I don’t fully believe 100% in the black vs. white argument. It’s like that cliche, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.” How many times will the people (and their so-called “community leaders”) of the East End be fooled?

    • Lisa Parziale

      May we get back to the subject: City Council. I’ll try to briefly share my experiences when I was first elected to the CC in 1983. It may seem like a long time ago, but in fact the only thing different is it was a real City Council then. Ernie Newton, a young black man was the first and only Council President since 1981. I never thought that one term later, I would share that distinction. I observed his service for the short time we shared together, he was detailed, prepared, had absolute knowledge of the City Charter, and most importantly, he served his district impeccably. Unless anyone reading my comments can actually remember what I’m stating, please don’t criticize that timeframe of his public service. As someone said, there’s a lot of blame to go around regarding the lack of progress in that area of the City, but it doesn’t rest on Ernie. In addition, he did something no Council member has ever done in the history of Bridgeport, then or now; he challenged an arbitrary decision by a sitting Mayor by taking the matter to court, and won! It involved the bidding process in Bridgeport. After the Judge’s decision, we enjoyed compliance for awhile, until another Mayor came along and set it all back. There’s much history to be known, and not many left to tell it. Trust me, I’m one who was there and remembers.

  • Ernie Newton

    THANKS, Lisa. And Frank, who do you think brought $500,000 to Move Mount Trashmore #1? I did. $1.9 million to build St. Mark’s Daycare in the East End as a freshman lawmaker in Hartford? Oh and remember the $35 million to build the Area and Harbor Yard, just to name a few (!) things. I can’t sit back and do nothing, I have to step forward. No matter what Andy thinks about ME!

  • Stringfellow

    Okay, Ernie wants to run and say he gets back in, then what?

    What will this do for the future of the East End? Will his position finally get the long-dead talks of development of the East End resurrected? Sad to say but I doubt it, not in my lifetime. There are far too many people who think little if any of improving that area. There are far too many hurdles to clear not to mention buildings to knock down. Look how long ago the fire was at the Pettways store yet the skeleton of the building is still there.

    The condemned lot where the dry cleaners and the bank once stood, there isn’t much you can do there. All that vacant land down by Trowel Street and Central Avenue. I am sure some of the property is owned by the city. What do they have planned for it?

    The writing was on the wall a long time ago when Stratford Avenue was rerouted to where it is now. It appears to cut off Stratford Avenue from the rest of the world. Clearly this was done by design.

    The lack of development and the failures of the East End go a lot farther and deeper than the fault of Mr. Newton. They are rooted in the tangled web of city hall no matter who was or is mayor.

    Let’s say they do build a grocery and drug store to serve the East End, then what?

    Is is going to turn around the whole Stratford Avenue corridor? Is it going to get the vacant buildings knocked down or rebuilt, sold and occupied?

    Is it going to clean up the ever-present loitering that goes on, on a daily basis?

    Perhaps one day there will be a renewed interest in the development of the East End. The sad truth is that day is a long way off.

    • Ron Mackey

      There are much bigger plan for the East End than just a pharmacy and a big-chain grocery store but those plans have nothing to do with the residents of the East End. The plan is call gentrification, just look at what is in the East End, Pleasure Beach, there were plans over 40 years ago to build condos there and have the only entrance from Stratford. A theme park, a casino and remember look at all that waterfront property. There is a direct exit off I95 and taking of homes around Newfield Ball Park there are many new types of stores that could be placed there. The first problem is to get those living there out.

  • Stringfellow

    As of now the direct exit is there and I see they are finishing the condos across from Carpenter Steel property. As for a theme park and casino neither of these are very likely especially after 40 years of planning. The section of Seaview Avenue from Beardsley Street to the dead end has loads of potential. There isn’t any leadership to make it happen.

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