UPDATE: Maya letter to Dems. This mayoral cycle has so many moving parts it could cause whiplash. Please call your local chiropractor.
One thing’s for certain, Mayor Bill Finch is seeking a third four-year term with more than $400K in the campaign account. Former Mayor Joe Ganim has formed an exploratory committee to raise moolah. School board member Howard Gardner’s in the race. Can Howard raise money? Does he have soldiers to hustle signatures to make the ballot for a September primary? Same for perennial mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello. And what about Finch’s 2011 Democratic primary opponent Mary-Jane Foster? She’s acting like a candidate judging by her phone calls to political activists. It’s getting late, will she get in?
Then there are so many questions about ticket spots including town clerk, city clerk, school board and City Council slots. The most intriguing so far involves incumbent Town Clerk Alma Maya, a disciple of one of the city’s preeminent social irritants, the late Cesar Batalla who was a stick in the eye to the city’s powerful, be it politician or business. Alma was alongside Batalla as one of the leading community warriors for social change: school desegregation, special education, police presence, political influence and voting power.
Alma has an ingrained independent streak that does not sit well with some pols. She’s not a suck-up. She doesn’t kiss Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa’s ring, unlike City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez who brings to the table bags of absentee ballots. Mario likes votes in the bank. So Mario has not committed to supporting Alma to another term. Sounds like he wants to leverage the town clerk and city clerk positions for a something-else deal, either this mayoral cycle or his own reelection next year.
Long-time City Clerk Fleeta Hudson’s not likely to seek another term. She’s been there since 1991. Lydia is interested in either the town clerk or city clerk spot. If Lydia works the political system for city clerk that means the political establishment might demand an African American for town clerk. That could compromise the endorsement for Alma who was elected in 2007 and again in 2011. But maybe pols will say there’s no reason to throw Alma out.
So the parts are moving. Let’s see how they shake out or shake down. After all, it’s the Bridgeport way.
Alma Maya sent this letter to the 90-member Democratic Town Committee that will endorse a candidate for town clerk in July:
I am writing to you to clarify a few points and ask for your support. As you know this is my second term as Town Clerk. During my tenure we have finalized several projects in my goal to modernize policies and procedures in the Town Clerk’s office.
For example, I acquired new staff and public computers, supervised the renovation the office, negotiated public access to land records online, created an electronic absentee ballot record, instituted an electronic map inventory and updated computer recording systems. We currently preparing to commence vault/land records and voting records inventories.
The amount of work in the Town Clerk’s office continues to increase, both with regards to land records and elections. At the same time, staff has decreased from eight full-time employees to six. Two of which are supervisory. I am considered a part-time employee. However, I come to work every day and most days I am here after 3PM. During elections I work up to 40 hrs a week. This is unpaid work time. My staff and I are committed to providing the best customer service to everyone, regardless of political party affiliation, employer or personal associations. Our relationship with State election officials continues to be one of mutual respect. I believe that we have created a friendly and efficient environment for both staff and customers.
More can be done, but we are getting there. I am proud of my staff and all we have accomplished together. I have a great team.
I believe you may have heard several rumors about my future as Town Clerk. So have I.
First, I was considering retirement, mostly for personal family reasons. I have decided that I would like to return for a third term.
Second, I hear that the party would like to run other candidates for this position. I believe I am the best candidate for Town Clerk. I am fair, honest, consistent and hard working. I am a good administrator and an independent thinker. I am open to new ideas in order to make the work and experiences in my office better for both staff and customers. Providing great public service is of utmost importance to me.
I welcome you to come and visit the Town Clerk’s office and check it out for yourself. Please feel free to call me at 203-374-7173 (H), if you would like to discuss this further. I look forward to your support.
Thank you for your attention and the opportunity to serve the citizens of Bridgeport. God bless you.