By the time polls close Tuesday at 8 p.m. for Democratic Town Committee primaries in three districts, about 700 electors will have cast votes by absentee ballot which could ensure that more votes will be cast that way in some precincts than actual electors showing up to the polls. That noise you just heard in advance is the sound of crickets at polling locations. As a result, absentee ballot poaching is underway in these hotly contested districts wars.
Most voters don’t know what a town committee members does so a premium is placed on personal relationships to drag them to the polls or in lieu of that, particularly with senior citizens, a major push to lock in their vote early via absentee ballot. These three districts happen to be among the most active absentee ballot districts in the city featuring a number of housing units for the elderly. Bridgeport’s DTC has 90 members covering 10 districts. A seat on the town committee comes with political juice. Pols pay attention to you because you help select candidates for public office and also elect a chairman. Your one teeny tiny DTC vote could be astonishingly relevant. We need you, we want you, we love you. Oh, you need a job? We’ll work it out. No prob.
Last summer a ferocious battle to woo town committee votes took place between Joe Ganim and Bill Finch. Ego stroking, hand holding, proxy maneuvering, deal cutting abounded. Finch, as the incumbent mayor, managed the endorsement in a close vote. But the closeness of the race said a lot about Finch’s bleeding, particularly in African American districts that overwhelmingly supported Ganim who lanced Finch in the September primary.
Tempers are short in the closing days of these races. And paranoia abounds. Sonuvabitch is swiping my absentee votes. All three districts feature seasoned absentee ballot operatives who work their peeps. But you cannot afford to take the peeps for granted because an opponent has a list of serial absentee voters and works it with phone calls and door knocking. “I promised so and so I’d vote for her,” says the voter. “No problem, you can vote for me too.” At the very least it could gum up the works.
For some electors the town committee voting process can be confusing. You can vote for up to nine candidates. It’s not winner slate take all. So you can fill in five ovals on one line, four on another. Or fill in all nine ovals on one line. Two districts have two full slates with 18 candidates. One district has three slates with 27 candidates.
Supervised balloting by elections officials has limited some absentee ballot maneuvering by operatives. If a high proportion of absentee ballot requests come from say a senior housing unit, elections officials can order supervised balloting. A date and time is established for electors to vote at a designated location in the housing unit supervised by elections officials.
No matter what happens Tuesday it appears Town Chair Mario Testa’s in strong position for another two-year leadership term. Within the next week or so Testa will set a date for town committee members to choose party officers.
West Side 132nd District slates:
Oyiboka Benson, Carol Cocco, Howard Gardner, Robert Halstead, Jessica Materna, Gabrielle Parisi, Lisa Parziale, John Ricci, Gail Santini.
Evette Brantley, Marcus Brown, Mike Freddino, Anthony Lancia, John Olson, Elaine Pivirotto, Rolanda Smith, Vernon Thompson Jr., Reggie Walker,
East Side 137th District slates:
Vidal Agosto, Tageldin Banaga, Rosa Franco, Juan Hernandez, Guillermo Marin, Jacqueline Richardson, Grisel Seda, Noel Sepulveda, Maria Valle.
Anderson Ayala,Teresa Davidson, Gil Hernandez, Maria Hernandez, Jessica Martinez, Lydia Martinez, Aidee Nieves, Joel Rosario, Alreta Taylor.
Upper East Side 138th District slates:
Eric Alicea, Erris Roy Allen, Angel Figueroa, Dolores Fonseca, Rafael Fonseca, Michelle Fox, Helen Losak, Maria Pereira, Andrea White.
Sonia Belardo, Ty Bird, Robert Curwen Jr., Kevin Monks, James Morton, Anthony Paoletto, Kelly Perez, Martha Santiago, Nessah Smith.
Leticia Colon, Charles Hare, Martha Gil, Sonia Kirkland, Lee Roy Owens, Jose Ramos, Alfonso Rodriguez, Samia Suliman, Marybel Torres.
There is a whole lot of shaking going on! The volunteer bases had better be ready to rumble! Especially for the slates that are legally bound by the 1K spending limit.
Cricket? I’ll have the chili dog with onions.