Person Over Party, Candidates Transcend Politics In Final Days Of Campaigning

It’s the final weekend before Tuesday’s general election with five school board seats and all 20 positions for City Council the featured attractions. Will a voter tsunami, or should we say Sue-Nami, hit the 130th District where Democratic incumbents Sue Brannelly and Steven Stafstrom are trying to hold off Republican challengers Rick Torres and Phil Blagys in Black Rock and the West End?

Blagys and Torres
Phil Blagys and Rick Torres.

Both camps are working in earnest to identify and pull out their votes on Tuesday. This is the key City Council race on several levels, including an opportunity for Republicans to become a relevant voice on the city’s budget and legislative body and campaign forces of Mayor Bill Finch trying to return key supporters as the mayor positions for reelection in 2015.

Council races are heavy on retail campaigning and that means scouring every vote, be it Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated. Party label matters but not as much in these local races where candidates try to transcend politics. Both camps have some crossover support.

Brannelly, Stafstrom
Sue Brannelly and Steven Stafstrom.

Fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee, an unaffiliated voter who often votes Democratic, writes he’s supporting Torres and Blagys because they are agents for change:

“We need change on the City Council! I shall vote for Rick Torres and Phil Blagys this year because they are responsible adults willing to ask necessary questions and listen for good answers, something very important to our municipal legislature in eliminating Charter violations and Ordinance ignorance. They are long-time community leaders, not conflicted by narrow interests, and can help to strengthen and reform our current governance check and balance structures. Finally, they are hard-working individuals who know the value of money to families and businesses at all levels. I expect them to treat taxpayer money and each legislative vote with attention, intelligence and integrity. They are the change we need. That’s why I support them.”

Long-time Democrats from Black Rock Don and Maxine Greenberg are also voting for Torres and Blagys:

“With six new Democrats coming on to City Council, we believe Rick and Phil will further shake up the Council, which has been a rubber stamp for the “machine” too long.”

Steven Spaulding, a Republican, says he’s voting for Brannelly and Stafstrom:

“In over 40 years as a registered voter, I have never voted for a member of the Democratic party before. However, in this election, I intend to do so for Steve Stafstrom and Susan Brannelly. I am convinced that they can and will best represent the residents of Black Rock because I believe they will listen and intelligently consider our needs and will work to improve this area. In this election, I think the person is more important than the party!”

Brannelly and Stafstrom also have the support of Republican Jeff Burr:

“Business retention, growth and recruitment are top priorities for Sue and Steve. Their commitment to economic development makes our neighborhood and City stronger.”



  1. Well, well, well; Stafstrom’s Political Science professor and a member of the Library Board who works to have Brannelly fully disperse the 1 mil funds to no avail year after year endorses the Republican opponents. That certainly says enough for me to vote for Rick and Phil.

  2. *** Wherever your polling place, be sure to vote for “change” not the same old song playing a new tune with the same outcome in the end! *** VOTE “CHANG!E” ***

  3. I am an independent who votes for the best people irrespective of their political affiliation, if any. In next Tuesday’s election I will vote for at least one Democrat, one Republican and one Working Families candidate. The choice in the Black Rock City Council race is clear this year. More of the same with Sue and Steve or positive change with Rick and Phil. Please vote for Rick and Phil.

    1. You mean more tea party, don’t you, Dave. I would think even a corporate clone like you would oppose tea party candidates like Rick. Someone who is against gun control in a city like Bridgeport? Someone who opposes even a small minimum wage while being against any kind of govt aid? Really Dave? You may be an independent but it doesn’t mean much when you support a businessman like Tom Foley.

      1. David Moore, once again, does this sound like an independent who votes for the best people irrespective of their political affiliation?

        Well, well, well; the cat is out of the bag.

        Connecticut Post
        Democrats give Boughton heat over tweet
        Published 10:27 pm, Thursday, October 31, 2013

        A run for Walker?

        He’s more policy wonk than politician.

        But the visibility of David Walker at GOP events in Connecticut is on the upswing, with the former U.S. comptroller general under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush making cameos at gubernatorial contender Tom Foley’s soft launch and then a state party fundraising dinner within the past month and a half.

        Now there is chatter in Republican circles that Walker, one of the loudest critics of federal spending levels and founder of the now-shuttered fiscal policy think tank called the Comeback America Initiative, is positioning himself for a run for statewide office and would be open to joining the party’s eventual nominee for governor as his or her running mate.

        “There have been some discussions about whether or not I should consider that,” Walker told Hearst Connecticut Newspaper Monday regarding a run for statewide office. “I have not made any judgment. As of the present time, I don’t have any plans to run.”

        Walker, 62, who resides in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport in a home previously owned by Christopher Shays, expects to make a final decision on his political future in early 2014.

        In September, Walker turned out the lights at the Comeback America Initiative with the release of its final report. He cited a long-standing commitment to spend more time with his family.

        Did the comeback fall short? Some contend it has. Walker bristled at the premise that his comeback went out with a whimper.

      2. No proof of Tea Party membership. You’re a liar. You’re also afraid there will be some sensible control over spending. Remember Davey, you cannot spend what you don’t have. Do you do that with your own checkbook? I doubt it.

      3. Why are you afraid of the essence of the Tea Party? It’s all about fiscal responsibility, something the Democratic Party at almost all levels of government doesn’t understand. You cannot spend what is not in your checkbook. If you call them racists, it’s you who is the racist. They are not. Look at their diversity.

  4. David,
    You really need to engage your brain more before you speak or type. You have never met me and obviously don’t know much about me. FYI, I also supported Jim Himes. Do you have a job? You sure spend a lot of time on this blog during working hours! I hope you like and will vote in Arizona tomorrow.

  5. *** Remember, it’s not a mayor’s race where one person makes a big difference. It’s the city council where you sit and share with 20 others as a team in the daily city government and economic development of the Park City, good or bad! So a vote for Torres does not seal in stone a district tea party revolution in Black Rock! What it does is hopefully give a different look and approach in how things are normally done (rubber stamping) in our fair city and may be a welcome change in our city government! *** BLESSINGS BE UPON US ***

  6. *** I must admit even I have gotten caught up in the 130th Black Rock political gossip scenario, but let’s not forget OIB bloggers and readers there are other districts that have challenge slates going on too! For instance my district the 131st where you have two Republicans and one petition candidate running for city council against the present incumbents of which not many voters really know who they are, other than they have been endorsed by the Bpt. Dem. machine. And a host of others of which “Lennie Baby” should narrow down some info about them this weekend or Monday before the election to educate the OIB readers, no? *** “Yo Lennie!” Run down a bit of political knowledge for OIB on all those running this Tuesday Nov. 5th and a little background check on what they’re about there, BROTHER MAN! ***

  7. Lennie, Lennie, Lennie,
    I leave town for a few days and come back to see you have become the lead cheerleader of the Dump Sauda campaign. Where does all of this anger come from??? Have you become a bucket boy for Finch and Vallas?
    Where is the fair and impartial reporting? I cannot remember since … never seeing you so emotionally engaged in a string of commentaries as you have become in your attack of Sauda.
    Can it be you feel professionally embarrassed by neither yourself nor the CT Post raising this alleged conflict until after the BOE has ruled?
    Surely you guys remember Atty Miller representing Sauda in the court challenge or did you think there were a slew of Atty Millers out there? Are you now going to claim you forgot? Please do not insult your readers more.
    You never thought there was a conflict until the Finch machine made it up and now you have allowed yourself to get suckered in.

    1. Troll, I had no conversations with the “Finch machine” that got its ass kicked in the Democratic primary September 10. What has Finch et al. said publicly about Baraka leading the charge to rescue a child abuser who clearly is her friend? They’ve sent me no statements, comments or news releases. No one from Finch’s office called me. My attack on Baraka? You’re blaming me because Sauda Baraka and you as her supporter coddle an abusive principal who deserved termination, and then pivot to demonize anyone who dare challenge her. What about the parents of the abused children who want Dickson fired? Are they part of the “Finch machine” as well? As for the Connecticut Post, I did not know the Post owned a monopoly on sound judgment.

  8. And besides OIB and the CT Post; not the City Attorney’s Office, the Mayor’s Office, Adam Wood, Paul Vallas and the BOE staff, no one saw this carefully planned out hidden plot until the BOE actually suspends Dickson and doesn’t fire her all of a sudden there is this GRAVE conflict of interest. Please, give me a break. OK, I’ll accept OIB and the CT Post were asleep at the wheel but not everyone else mentioned above.
    They saw it. They knew it. They said nothing. But simply waited because they assumed they couldn’t lose. And when they did lose they are trying desperately to turn it into a campaign issue and trying to paint the WFP with one broad brush and using it to try to elect Republicans to the board. Shame on you Lennie for getting sucked into this trap.

    1. Bob,
      With all due respect, conflicts are rampant in Bridgeport and they are rarely acknowledged or addressed. That is one of the major problems with the governance structure in the City. We need more people who are qualified, not conflicted, and are willing to conduct themselves based on higher ethical and moral standards.

      1. Dave, agreed. But conflicts based on paychecks or paychecks of relatives are a lot easier to accept than this convoluted argument Lennie puts forward. That attorney Miller represented Sauda so as to put her in a compromising position and to extract Sauda’s vote for Ms. Dickson in return.
        This is merely baseless conjecture and if anyone wants to defend this logic then they should file a complaint against the attorney with the CT Bar Association and not claim a conflict with Sauda days before her election.
        This is when the argument becomes purely political and has nothing to do with conflicts.

    2. Troll, you want some cheese to go with that whine? I have no such power before an election. The coalition you support that includes the Working Families Party will likely be in control of the school board come Tuesday. Conflict doesn’t just involve money. It also includes manipulating a process to rescue friends. Your coalition will be in charge of policy, the school board contracts, the hires, the fires and all the rest that goes with it. And soon Vallas will be gone. You should be happy your coalition is on verge of control. Are you so thin-skinned you’ll be the designated attack dog of the coalition when anyone dares to question it? You’re free to criticize anyone you want but don’t dare challenge your peeps. My goodness.

    3. Actually, not all were asleep at the wheel. Moales questioned her right to hear the case:

      He asked about the relationship with Dickson, but since it was Moales, Sauda did not even acknowledge his accusations and no one questioned further.
      And the Post–they are not the end-all to breaking news or fair reporting since they did not bring it up for three months … and oh by the way who did they endorse? Sauda.
      Fact is, Sauda seemingly overlooked the tapes and brought up “procedural” issues (when incidents reported, etc.) instead of addressing what they all saw on the tapes.
      The new board is already going to benefit greatly from the following:
      – subtraction of Pereira,
      – new blood in control and Moales no longer Chair
      and another step to credibility will be if Baraka loses as well.

        1. Ron–
          1) Kelleher is Democrat.
          2) She did not have a conflict like Baraka (same lawyer as Dickson).
          3) I thought she was wrong too. But I see the reasoning behind her response. She did not hide behind “procedure” issues. She is at least offering a sort of “rehab” program (which all four agreed upon) as she recognizes Dickson’s years of service and the difficulty of working in the school system. I think they all factored that into their decision.
          I’ve read this blog for some time, and we all complain about the current conflicts of interest (council members as city employees, etc.). But when that same view is pointed at one of the favorites or anti-Finch crowd, some want to turn a blind eye.
          I get it Ron, you support Sauda and her position, but you also have to admit if this were another–say Moales or Mulligan–you would have a different tone.

          1. Lifelong Bpt, thanks for the correction. I’m trying to make the point they both voted the same way no matter the reason.

  9. Bob,
    I hear you. Candidly, I’ve filed ethics and related complaints before with little to no effect. Just another example of the need for real change in Bridgeport.

  10. Thank you Local Eyes for your kind words. I know when you cannot refute the logic of my argument you make an attack on me personally. Thanks for affirming the strength of my argument.

  11. Lennie, I am just looking for a little fair and impartial reporting. You have condemned Ms. Dickson based on snippets of reports. You have not seen the video. You did not sit through the hours of testimony on the matter. And yet you feel totally justified in attacking Sauda for a prior professional relationship with Attorney Miller.
    Did you even think to ask Dr. Kelleher for comments on you blog before launching into your attack? Did you seek out the input of an attorney on the ethical nature of this relationship? Come on Lennie, you had Ms. Dickson fired before any of the hearings took place.
    And again where did this claim of a conflict originate and why didn’t you raise it at the very beginning?

    1. Troll, you want fair reporting? Sauda Baraka is welcome to issue a statement to OIB or join in on the conversation here at any time. Jacqui Kelleher is welcome to do the same. I’ve emailed Kelleher on this issue. I’ve been in touch with the leader of the CT Working Families Party regarding this issue. The other day I published a commentary from Baraka about her eight years on the school board. She gives as good as she takes. OIB provides you, Bob “Troll” Walsh, a daily platform to share your point of view with thousands of readers and city voters. That is fairness. You sometimes come on OIB and make ridiculous allegations and issue outright lies such as declaring somehow it was the “Finch machine” that influenced my opinion. I don’t need to see the video to make a judgment about Dickson. Have all the parents seen the video? You certainly don’t need to see videos based on your endless judgments. I don’t agree with how the majority school board voted with regard to Dickson. OIB is not about impartiality, it never has been. It’s a forum to share information heavily based on government and politics people cannot get anywhere else. It is also about fairness. If Baraka wants to issue a statement about her vote I will give it plenty of fair play.

  12. Bob Walsh, I was reading Lennie’s reply to you where he said about you, “You’re blaming me because Sauda Baraka and you as her supporter coddle an abusive principal who deserved termination.” Well Bob, I think you might have Lennie wrong because I’m sure he has seen the video and that’s why he wants Ms. Dickson fired based on the video, I mean why else would he be so sure?

  13. Bob,
    Thanks for this information, but what will Uncle John Stafstrom tell voters he has accomplished for this tax-sensitive district?

    John Stafstrom made a great Ringmaster this past year for the Barnum Festival and infused energy and inspiration into this community event. Let’s all give him another round of applause for that.

    However, inasmuch as his firm is Bond Counsel to the City and also legally sits in on the Pension Plan A meeting, there is less information presented to the public on these two issues than in surrounding communities, for sure. Is he holding the info flow up? Or is he just a well-paid victim/accomplice of the sitting powers that be? You decide. But the public is not well-served in this regard, so his effort to provide 11th-hour support to Steve is “all in the family,” but not necessarily material to those who have watched each of the three Democratic Council persons represent us in the past two years (or longer). Time will tell.


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