There’s nothing quite like the passion of Latino politics. It’s the best reality show in the city: fight, kiss and make up, fight, get back together; mischief, diabolical, unpredictable, drama. It has all the ingredients.
All of this will be playing out the next eight weeks as Christina Ayala and Angel Reyes duke it out for the party nomination in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary for Connecticut’s 128th State House seat. This race has two credentialed candidates.
Party-endorsed Christina Ayala, a young mother of a six-year-old daughter, has a master’s of education from the University of Bridgeport. She speaks English, Spanish and French. By profession she is a site manager for the city’s anti-poverty organization Action for Bridgeport Community Development where she manages the day-to-day functions for two early learning centers, Ella Jackson on Connecticut Avenue and Bassick Head Start on Fairfield Avenue.
She is the daughter of two seasoned politicians, Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala and Alberto “Tito” Ayala, the former city councilman who led a slate of candidates that seized control of the 137th District in a March town committee fight from the slate of City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez who is supporting Reyes. Lydia’s legendary absentee ballot operation is clearly on the mind of Christina Ayala.
“I do not encourage voting by AB unless the individual REALLY needs one,” Christina Ayala writes in a statement to OIB. “Stealing votes is not my style! Maintaining the integrity of the voting process is extremely important to me. I believe that this position will help me exercise my love for education and passion for politics which is a win win.
“I pride myself in being an advocate for the poor, working poor and the average income earner. The first two being the population I have served for the past 10 years. My heart lies in trying to help my community get out of the vicious cycle and be able to sustain themselves and particularly their families. I have great political figures around me who will give me advice and guidance. I welcome it but want to make sure the voters know that I have a mind of my own and a duty to serve ethically. I am really hoping to have the opportunity to be a good liaison between Hartford, local politicians and most importantly my community.”
Reyes, community activist, businessman, journalist, has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Bridgeport. He founded the bilingual Park City Independent.
“Mr. Reyes, long-time East Side resident and proprietor of a successful East Main Street business, wants the people of the East Side of Bridgeport to know that they now have a chance to bring real change to the East Side through the election of someone from their neighborhood who has lived their life and found a way to overcome the daunting cultural and political obstacles standing in the way of the economic and social success of the poor and immigrant community of Bridgeport’s East Side,” proclaims his campaign website www.angelreyesforstaterep.com.
The East Side is the mothership of the Latino voting base, but there’s more to this campaign than just the East Side. The 128th State House District also includes The Hollow and a portion of the West Side. Historically, the district is the lowest-performing turnout area of the city, but this race takes on increased intrigue because of the presence of incumbent State Rep. Andres Ayala, Christina’s cousin, who is vacating the seat to challenge party-endorsed Ernie Newton and Ed Gomes for Gomes’ State Senate seat.
Andres Ayala should run strong in his State House district, but he’ll be appearing on the second line while Christina, as the endorsed candidate, will appear on the top line. Angel Reyes will follow Andres Ayala in the ballot line up. This places a premium on the respective campaign camps to educate voters about ballot position.