It’s not often, maybe never, the leading officers for the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance join forces to seize control of a Democratic Town Committee District, but that’s what’s rising up in the North End 135th District with Rev. Mary McBride-Lee, a City Council member and Rev. Charlie Stallworth, a member of the State House, in the March 4 primary. This district primary is one of seven across the city that could set off a chain reaction of what occurs politically in this year’s governor cycle and next year’s mayoral election.
Lee, pastor of El Shaddai Church of God in Christ, and Stallworth, pastor of the East End Tabernacle Baptist Church, are trying to wrest control of the district makeup largely supportive of Mayor Bill Finch including former City Councilmen Warren Blunt and Richard Bonney. Lee won a seat on the council last year. In 2011 Stallworth won the State House seat vacated by long-time legislator Chris Caruso who was appointed by Governor Dan Malloy to a position in the state Labor Department.
The stakes for the March town committee primaries are rising higher than the winter snow. Stallworth’s name is popping up as a potential challenge against State Senator Andres Ayala, and perhaps next year as a mayoral candidate. Stallworth faces risk in this town committee quest as an incumbent State House member up for reelection this year with future ambitions. What if he doesn’t win a seat? It hurts his chances for higher office and could even spark a primary opponent this year for his State House seat.
The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) is a fascinating pulpit-political entity. Some members play politically and governmentally, and it’s not uncommon for political and government leaders to attend Sunday services to greet the peeps. Clergy leaders believe leveraging a political voice can lift up their neighborhood followers. You want our votes? Pave our streets, clean our sidewalks, increase police patrols, make us players at the political table, show us respect. And some are players.
IMA leaders generally support their peers running for political office. Churchgoers are higher proportionate voters. We pray and we vote. Stallworth, as president, and Lee, as vice president of the IMA respectively, will call upon their Democratic followers to vote for their slate against a slate of mostly seasoned campaigners.
March 4 will feature 18 candidates split between two lines in this district. The top nine vote producers will be elected to the 90-member Democratic Town Committee that endorses candidates for public office and selects a chairman. Candidates below:
135th District: Wilfred Murphy, Diane Richards, Warren Blunt, Audrey Barr, Richard Bonney, Steven Ferreira, Deborah DeIrish, Curtis Mae McNair, Richard Cruz.
Challenge slate: Stephen Nelson, Doris Roman Nelson, Waith Mitchell, Carmen Harron, Charlie Stallworth, Mary McBride Lee, Fred Gee Jr, Darrett Evans Moss, Craig Jones.