Republican State House candidate Anthony Pizighelli asserts in an OIB commentary that Democratic incumbent Charlie Stallworth is serving two masters holding a city job and state elected position.
State Representative Charles Stallworth of the 126th District accepted an appointment by Mayor Ganim as a senior adviser and director of community outreach and diversity. A very noble title, and one that implies a loyalty to the people of the city. However, a State Representative draws a stipend of a salary paid by the state to perform their elected duties to the people. They are not paid by the municipalities they represent. There is a good reason for this. No State Representatives should accept any position in addition to their elected one where they draw a salary from the city they represent. Being paid by the municipality effectively makes that municipality, and its administration your employer. If your elected job is to represent the best interests of the people of your municipality, how would you reconcile fighting against your own employer if the municipality’s administration wishes to enact any regulation or law that would be in any way detrimental to those you represent?
Being a municipal employee as well as a person elected to represent the people of the municipality creates a conflict of interest and brings into doubt where the representative’s loyalties fall. Do they vote in favor of the constituents who elected them as they have pledged to do and thereby risk their much, much more financially lucrative job for the municipality? Working for both the administration of the municipality and the people of that same municipality is a recipe for adversity and the people may well find themselves very underserved.
As things stand, Bridgeport is a city in trouble. Our residents pay outrageously high taxes, some of the highest in the state, only to find themselves terribly underserved by their elected officials who earn very good livings from those high taxes.
How do things stand for Bridgeport residents? Here is a bit of info; Median per capita income in Bridgeport as of the last US census was hovering around $20,000 a year. In comparison, the median per capita income for Fairfield County as a whole during the same time was around $48,000, meaning the residents of Bridgeport only earn about 40% of what most of the residents of Fairfield County earn. And while it is true that the per capita income in Bridgeport is a good deal above the national income of about $12,000 per capita a year considered to be the poverty level, very few Bridgeport residents are laughing all the way to the bank (unless you are part of the city administration’s cronies).
Bridgeport’s unemployment rate as of 2015 was 12.4%. If the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is to be believed, as of this year the U.S. unemployment rate is at about 5%. That makes Bridgeport’s unemployment 2.5 times as high as the rest of the country.
If State Representative Charles Stallworth is being paid $100,000.00 as a city employee, he would be making five times the income of his hard working constituents, meaning his hefty salary is coming in no small part off the backs of the hard working people has vowed to represent the best interests of, in the form of their outrageously high taxes. Bridgeport’s administration just to raised taxes yet again.
How then would you expect State Representative Charles Stallworth to lean in his loyalties? To the electorate for his meager state stipend, or to the city administration to keep his generous paycheck? Now I am not accusing Representative Charles Stallworth of impropriety in any way, I believe he is a man of principle and has served his constituency to his best ability. I am simply pointing out the conflict of interests that can cause even those of us with the best of intentions to make concessions, even if on a very subconscious level, in favor to the side that offers more reward.
If elected as State Representative I pledge that I will not take town job, appointed or otherwise, so that my interests are strictly in favor of those I represent.