Reformers Want To Take Bite Out Of Big Mac In Town Committee Fight

Tom McCarthy
Big Mac’s slate has primary challenge.

Gail Janensch, an active member of the League of Women Voters, says it’s time for new blood on the Democratic Town Committee with a message of reform. She’s running on a slate for the March 4 primary challenging the established slate in the North End 133rd District led by City Council President Tom McCarthy who’s also a city employee working at the pleasure of the mayor. Judging by Janensch’s recent posting on OIB, the challenge slate will leverage language in the City Charter–prohibiting city employees serving on the City Council–to persuade district change.

From Janensch:

Opportunity is knocking for a better, fairer legislative branch of our City of Bridgeport. LWV member Gail Janensch (71) here who called Tom McCarthy personally to tell him my name would appear on the Challenge Slate in 133rd. I taught Civics at Westhill and I believe paid city employees (no matter how nice they may be) do not belong on the body that votes the City Budget. I am the 3030 Park resident who brought both Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon to greet our seniors and spell out their positions. I am the one who arranged for a LWV-sponsored forum for ALL EIGHT candidates who ran in last November’s Board of Ed election. My new blood is needed in the city where I will live until death shuts me up.

Reformers argue how can the council president, head of the legislative branch, serve as a check on the executive branch that controls his paycheck? McCarthy is deputy director of Labor Relations. He has argued for years he makes his decisions independent of mayoral influence. McCarthy is a hard campaigner with a strong following in his district neighborhood. He did not face a primary last September when all endorsed candidates for City Council and school board were defeated. Reformers believe they missed an opportunity to take out McCarthy last year and are now challenging his slate in a district battle. The State House member who serves the district, Jack Hennessy, has been pushing a government reform bill in the General Assembly to close a loophole in state law that allows city employees to serve on the city’s budget-making and legislative body approving their own wages and benefits in defiance of the City Charter.

State law prohibits municipal employees from serving on boards of finances. Hennessy and State Rep. Auden Grogins simply want state law extended to include all municipal bodies that function as boards of finance. State Senator Anthony Musto, who is politically aligned with McCarthy, helped kill the bill in last year’s legislative session. Musto delivered the oath of office to McCarthy when Big Mac was sworn in for another two-year term in December. Hennessy says he will reintroduce the bill in the session that is underway. Hennessy has also announced his support for political activist Marilyn Moore who’s challenging Musto in an August primary.

This is an opportunity for reformers to take charge and make change. It’s also an opportunity for McCarthy to validate his support in the district with the help of his veteran slate. (Editor’s note: happy birthday to McCarthy.)

The top nine voter producers among the two lines will be elected to the 90-member Democratic Town Committee that endorses candidates for public office and elects a chairman. Mayor Bill Finch’s ex-wife Claire Mastromonaco had qualified for the challenge slate, but has withdrawn her name from running.

133rd District: Thomas McCarthy, Howard Austin, Sr., Joseph Hatrick, Sr., Joseph Moura, Peretz Robinson, Abel Chaparro, Jeanette Herron, Albertina Baptista, Vincent DiPalma.
Challenge slate: Jessica Allen, Josh Kristy, Louis Innacell, Gail Janensch, Mahlon Goma, Ann Martin, Earl King Jr., Eugene Gailliard.



  1. Vote for whmoever is not an embarrassment to the people and is not so corrupt it will turn businesses away. This coming year is critical for Bridgeport. If pay to play is the rule, then this city will rue the day of corruption.

  2. One of the people on my slate told me a little story that goes like this. He attended Auden Grogin’s fundraiser. Bill Finch was there too, this gentlemen on our slate served Black Rock well for many years and is not the kind of person who bullies people. Mayor Bill Finch walked up to him and said, “I don’t know why you are challenging Danny Roach. He is too strong and is going to beat all of you. You are just wasting your time.” Before this, Finch spoke at the event and acknowledged everyone in the room by name. He totally ignored him except to do what I described above.
    As for Bill Finch’s ex-wife, I hear she is simply saying to the voters. “Dump them all like I dumped my ex-husband Mayor Bill Finch.”
    In the 130th district, all we’re saying to the voters is “Be Roach-Free, Vote Line C.”

  3. If there’s any district that needs a new committee it’s the South End, not the North End. The fact no one is trying to oust that slug Denese Taylor is completely baffling!

  4. Tom McCarthy is the poster child for everything that is wrong in Bridgeport politics. He has never and I mean never disagreed with the mayor on any of his proposals. He has taken significant pay raises while the lower-tiered city workers took cuts.
    McCarthy was part of the airport commission that is responsible for the airport fiasco. He has helped pass mayoral budgets that were filled with millions of dollars that went into the city slush fund and could be spent as the administration wanted with no accountability.
    In my mind there are three people who bear a large part in why the city is stagnant and the taxes are on a steady rise. Those three people are Tom Sherwood, Mark Anastasi and Tom McCarthy. These three have no conscience and really only care about themselves and what they can get. Their motto is I WANT MINE AND SCREW BRIDGEPORT.

  5. Lennie, well summarized.

    Andy, you are on target.

    Challenge Slate Candidates: There are no coattails to ride on. If you are serious, you need to contact people you know and make sure they vote.

  6. Tom McCarthy may be a decent person, but he is nothing more than a puppet for Finch. He has NEVER taken a stand against anything Finch wanted, was on the airport commission during discussions about Moutinho’s driveway, but yet when push came to shove, claimed he knew nothing about it. Again, Finch told him not to say anything. McCarthy would do himself well by distancing himself from Finch at this point, maybe taking a stand once in awhile when he disagrees with the mayor. The people of Bpt see McCarthy as Finch’s “yes man” … and how can they not?

    1. Do you think the voters would believe McCarthy if he suddenly distanced himself from the mayor during the campaign cycle? Since his position serves at the pleasure of the mayor, it seems a rather difficult stance for him to be able to authentically take.

  7. McCarthy may have a personal political platform as an individual but he has kept it so close to his vest even his best buddies may not be able to speak to it. As leader of the City Council he has presided over a decrease in services to the 19 other Council members with the elimination of one filled (Tom White) and one unfilled position in the Legislative department. Our Council members are in a less better position to obtain what they need to perform competently than under previous leader Andres Ayala in that respect.
    Tom does enjoy “good news” and loves a “happy picture” to memorialize the experience. Because of that, many Council meetings had more substance from the 30 minutes of public speaking than in the equal time spent on “good news” and voting on Consent Calendars with Council members vying to see who could first utter the motion to close the session. There is much lacking in City governance presently, and the Council is not up to the design as far as checks and balance go. McCarthy could promote actions and behavior that provide more OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT process. We would not expect that from him if he were in lockstep with the Mayor, would we? Time will tell.

  8. I’m pleased to see a public challenge for the Democratic Town Committee seats in Bpt. The opposition to unseat common council president McCarthy is very necessary. To me, Tom is a stand-up guy. Every time I think of him, I think Homo Erectus.


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