The Gender Battle For Votes–Female Pastors Endorse Ganim

Ganim surrounded by female pastors in Margaret Morton Government Building.

When you’re an incumbent challenged by a woman seeking to become the city’s first black mayor what do you do as a potential campaign antidote? You trot out endorsements from female pastors, most of whom are black. Mayor Joe Ganim faces a September 10 primary challenge from State Senator Marilyn Moore whose campaign is making a strong direct appeal to black women.

Ganim’s reelection campaign on Thursday rolled out endorsements from about a dozen “Bridgeport area female pastors” that included a photo with Ganim on the escalator steps of the Margaret Morton Government Center.

More than ten of the religious leaders, according to a news release by Ganim’s campaign, recently sat down for a discussion on Bridgeport’s future. Included in the group:

Apostle Mamie Fonville, Apostle Beverly Jackson, Pastor Veronica Mercer, Pastor Gabrielle Beam, Elder Gloria Brown, Apostle Loria Morrison, Pastor Toni Mack, Carolyn Evans, Pastor Pyrnie Fitzgerald, Pastor Jasmine Spencer, Pastor Lula Vereen and Pastor Sarah Lewis.

The campaign news release did not include church affiliations of the pastors. Most of the names via internet searches come up with Bridgeport church/ministry affiliations.

Ganim’s most visible pastoral supporter is City Councilwoman Mary McBride-Lee who marched more than 50 years ago in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote. She represents the 135th District a battleground in the September 10 primary that includes African American-rich Wilbur Cross and Hallen precincts two areas where Ganim ran strong in his primary win over Bill Finch four years ago.

Most high profile black political operatives in the district including Democratic leader Steve Nelson support Ganim, but Moore is building her profile there and represents Cross and Park City Magnet another key precinct in her senate district. Moore has enjoyed overwhelming support in Wilbur Cross during her five-year senate tenure.

An appeal from Marilyn Moore’s Facebook page.

Dunbar School in the East End is another battleground area this cycle where Ganim ran up a major margin against Finch four years ago. Both Ganim and Moore have campaign offices in the precinct.

Ganim is emphasizing themes to resuscitate his standing with voters including education, an area he’s open to criticism for generally flat-funding spending during his four years. Be it school bus routes, backpacks and supplies, athletic uniforms and literacy program, Ganim is now leveraging more than $1 million in direct city-side spending on education the final weeks of the primary campaign.

“During our meeting, I saw the mayor is passionate about education and about the needs of the community,” Apostle Loria Morrison of the Coalition of Apostolic Leaders is quoted in the news release.

“By coming together and collaborating with the mayor and this group of women pastors, along with the people, this mayor will be able to finish the work that he started as well as continue to move this city forward,” Pastor Veronica Mercer of the Empowerment Healing Ministry is also quoted.

This election cycle is new for Ganim who has never been primaried as an incumbent mayor. Ganim is not taking Moore’s insurgent campaign lightly.

Even if he prevails in the primary, it’s just round one. They will face off again in November because Moore has secured a ballot spot.

What the Ganim campaign doesn’t want is a close primary machine count boosted by absentee ballots, something that could provide Moore a momentum shift in November if she doesn’t win the primary.



  1. C’mon man, they don’t have 500 parishioners between all 12 of them. Mary Lee’s nephew got a job in city hall right after Ganim beat Finch so her loyalty has been bought and paid for. It would be impressive if it was Rev. Bennett, Rev. Miller, Rev. Logan, Rev. Stallworth, Bishop Moales or a host of other ministers with congregants more than 30 or 40 people.

    Typical Joe Ganim, feeling the need to find some Black’s to parade around like he has Black people’s best interest at heart. It’s a damn shame that after marching in Selma for equal rights for Black’s you can still find my people that will bet against the best interest of our people.

      1. Frank, that’s the only a Democrat can win, it’s “the black female voters,” that’s who will be vote in any election here. In fact the same can be said for the Presidential election, the most loyal voter in America is “the black female voters.”

  2. A Religious Community Shares the Situation of the “returning citizen”
    I attended an event at a local church community, Mount Aery, last evening from 6-8:00 PM. The Empathy Network under State leadership coordinator Rev Nancy Kingwood-Small, of the pastoral staff at Mount Aery presented a CNN video from the Redemption Project headed by Van Jones. Jones had been invited to attend but moderator Louis Reed, fired former MIRA head, attributed weather issues with interfering with travel from New York. The audience exceeded 150 persons. What a person returning from prison faces IS one of the major issues in many Bridgeport families according to statistics shared.

    The program started promptly with a compelling video that told the 1997 story of a young woman (16) in Oakland, CA who was shot seven times while in the back seat of a van and died leaving a devastated family, The shooter was a gang member working his turf with no specific reason or anger for the people in the van. He was the only person of four who was arrested, tried, found guilty and given a sentence (20 years to life). Themes of redemption, repair, reformation and forgiveness vie with the civil justice actions among professional and volunteer workers in this vineyard.

    Twenty years, following the event, the shooter is shown in conversation with ‘Love Life’s’ father, who at the end of this emotional session says: “It is not where you start. It’s where you finish,” to the weeping killer. “I forgive you man.”

    In the following panel discussion, Lyle Hassan Jones said: “You have to take ownership for the crime, first. Acknowledge the wrong done to the victim and family. Ask for forgiveness.” Nancy Kingwood-Small talked about the “empathy” necessary when not only individuals, but families and systems are caught up in the chaos of violence. Simple issues like “identity cards” for returnees, necessary to get a job and hold it, had been ignored by MIRA (Mayor’s Initiative for Re-entry Affairs). And PSEG construction job expectations from the $500 Million project had not “trickled down” in any meaningful manner.

    Other panelists including Fred Hodges, Tito Negron, Councilman Ernie Newton and Mayor Joseph Ganim answered questions first from Moderator Reed and then from the audience. Reed informed the audience that #cut50 that he serves as a national organizer was a force securing release for 5,000 persons behind bars in 2019 and had two national goals addressed to the work of the coming decade.

    There was agreement that for the 1,000 “returning citizens” coming to Bridgeport annually, not enough is done. Insufficient accountability and resources are provided. MIRA received no praise and the firing of former directors Reed and Christmas was not mentioned. The CT Post has reported on MIRA and “returning citizens” this summer. (Reed’s biography on #cut50 fails to mention two felonies and his later guilty plea to the two illegal actions causing his termination.) As Lyle Hassan Jones said above: Own the crime. Acknowledge the wrong. Ask forgiveness.

    Mayor Ganim, the highest profile re-entry panelist, referred to his own “white collar crime” as perhaps complicated by substance abuse as happens to many. Other panelists talked about the role trauma plays to many seeking whole person health. The empathic community of color in Bridgeport provided him his “second chance” politically in 2015.

    But whether it is the choice of leadership for a Mayoral Initiative, flat funding of an operating budget for schools for four years, the failure of genuine economic development from his administration (noting a PSEG exception initiated during Finch term) and his raising taxes in direct opposition to his campaign statements there is much to consider in 2019. Last evening it seemed that a knowing and caring audience is looking for more and better municipal and State attention to “returning citizens” and the affected families. Did the pastoral women who visited Ganim’s office discuss the topic and the failure of the “Mayor’s Initiative”? What honest accountability are they seeking? Time will tell.

    1. JML, thanks for sharing and I must say that was a excellent panel John, Lyle Hassan Jones said: “You have to take ownership for the crime, first. Acknowledge the wrong done to the victim and family. Ask for forgiveness. This is something Joe Ganim can’t and won’t do, he doesn’t seek atonement, to apologize for doing something wrong, to atone is to do something right to make up for doing something wrong. John, Democratic Town Committee member Jorge Cruz speaks about MIRA and “returning citizens” and it’s failure under Mayor Ganim.

      1. Attending an event of this kind is most helpful in learning about community needs seldom discussed in public. But you nailed it as I reported and have commented for so many years OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST are critical values in governance and in building community from chaos, outrage, emotions and unknowing into remorse, reform, repair, meaningful reconstruction and whole healing.
        Does the Moderator, Louis Reed, have a responsibility when appearing before a public whose taxpayers paid him and expected more of him than two felony pleas with suspended time and parole attached consequences and job termination? Does failure to own the crime, acknowledge the wrongdoing to the victim (in this case the entire Bridgeport community where he was to be a role model), and asking forgiveness for his latest Connecticut transgressions mean anything, Ron? Does he get a pass in this case? And why, if so? Time will tell.

      2. Ron,

        Little Joe Ganim will not make a forthright confession because there is no statute of limitations on perjury. He lied in federal court, remember. It cost his license to practice law.

        1. Derek, it’s that false pride, he’s embarrassed and ashamed, remember Joe Ganim was that young new “golden boy” in politic, well, he has not change his mindset from the time he was being investigated. He has been playing the black voters with his so call come to Jesus speech that he made at the IMA and the NAACP celebration of Emancipation Day program on the 1st of January every year because that was the day President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free. This a very important day to blacks in America and had the stage at this celebration to launch his campaign back into politic. Joe Ganim while speaking in front of the pulpit in Rev. Stallworth’s church Joe Ganim could not show any atonement, to apologize for doing something wrong, to atone is to do something right to make up for doing something wrong.

  3. Sarah Lewis came to me in 2017 to ask questions about running as a petitioning BOE candidate. Reverend McBride sent her to me which immediately made me wary. She had absolutely no shot of winning.

    I asked Sarah to join our 138th District Town Committee slate in 2018. It was challenging to get out to knock on doors in the cold weather.

    We lost in March 2018 and I spoke with her about doing some partime work for a friend.

    Sarah shared with me that politics wasn’t for her and she no longer wanted to be involved. I understood and respected her decision.

    I couple of months later I saw her in a CT Post photo at Ganim’s fundraiser at Brewport. I called her to confirm that was her in the photo. She sounded uncomfortable and stated she went to the fundraiser to “help” Reverend Lee. I asked to help her with what, exactly. Sarah stated she would rather not say.

    I let her have it. You told me you no longer wanted to be involved in politics, however your attending a major Ganim fundraiser.

    Sarah told me “I’m not supporting Ganim. I ‘ve actually been attending Stallworth’s meetings.”

    I responded with “you told me you are against charter $chools, yet you are supporting charter #chool supporter Charlie Stallworth.” She said “he doesn’t support Charter $schools, he supports public schools.” I responded “the charter $school industry spent $32,000 in 21 days in my race against him for state rep.”

    I told her not to report back to that job that I would contact my friend. I store critical files and documents in that office and the thought of her having access to them made me panic.

    We have some great religious leaders in Bridgeport. However, I often think if some of these religious leaders represent God then I want to be an atheist.

    Here we have Sarah Lewis be used as prop for Mayor Ganim’s re-election bid after telling me just a few months ago that she would never support Ganim.

    Even our so called religious leaders lack the most basic level of integrity.

  4. Joe Ganim has not admitted guilt for the 16 felony crimes he was convicted of.
    The ‘reverends’ and ‘apostles’ have low standards and no shame of being used.
    Say alleluia.

    1. Rewarding supporters jobs isn’t exclusive to Joe,just that Joe takes it to the extreme,ie, making his driver & wine hauler Armando, police chief.Generally supporters get rewarded with smaller,less important jobs, like Joe gave Stevie A,taking care of parking meters.


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