“Tough Puerto Rican” Sandi Ayala Announces Retirement As Democratic Registrar Of Voters

Sandi Ayala family
File image: Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala, center rear, enjoys another endorsement by acclamation surrounded by family.

Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa “Sandi” Ayala who oversaw the largest active municipal party voter enrollment in Connecticut the past 16 years has announced her retirement from her elected position effective December 14. Her longtime deputy Patricia Howard will take over until a new Democratic registrar is elected in November 2020.

The political maneuvering will now begin for the 2020 election cycle. Ayala’s daughter Inis has worked for years in the registrar’s office.

Although Ayala dealt with a number of election controversies during her time, be it the 2010 Bridgeport ballot shortage in the November gubernatorial election, lawsuits contesting the results of various elections, questions concerning the petition process for candidate ballot qualification, or political turf battles, she emerged as the ultimate survivor in city politics harnessing a close relationship with Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa.

Throughout it all, although diminutive in stature, she’s no shrinking violent. “I’m a tough Puerto Rican,” she would say when some questioned her judgment or pondered a direct primary challenge against her that never occurred.

Ayala would always say privately that she wanted to go out on her own terms, and this seems to be the case.

Technology, same day registration and voting, and growing voter enrollment occurred during her time including the phasing out of the old-time lever voting machines to implementation of the optical scan modernization that occurred roughly 10 years ago when Susan Bysiewicz, now lieutenant governor, was Connecticut’s chief elections officer.

In 2003 the city’s total voter enrollment was roughly 53,000. Today it’s more than 74,000 with the highest active Democratic enrollment in the state at more than 48,000. Much of that registration surge came during Barack Obama’s time as candidate and president.

The 2020 election cycle could include a number of Democratic primaries, the first step in March with potential challengers for Democratic Town Committee, the so-called party infrastructure, whose members pick a leader and endorse candidates for public office.

In May party insiders will endorse candidates for state legislative seats as well as registrar of voters. This being a state cycle, primaries will take place in August versus September in municipal years.



  1. I will guess that Lennie’s statement in regard to ROV Sandy Ayala is accurate: “the largest active municipal party voter enrollment in Connecticut the past 16 years” though I would be interested in learning the base in 2003 of all parties Democrat, Republican, other and unaffiliated.
    When people are recruited, they usually are excited and maintain an interest in practicing what they signed up to do. Is that fair to assume? Our City problems with absentee ballots is certainly nothing to be proud of. Has the ROV office a list of the issues that were found distressing at the State level, both administrative and judicial? Who is taking what action to prevent them from happening again.
    I know several of the professionals in our City Attorney Office and am not out to criticize any of them. However, if the City powers went outside our own CAO expertise to spend more than $85,000 on outside attorney time and effort, it is fair to ask about remedial action at this time.
    Connecting the dots is a simple thing, though necessary when you are outside the circle of power, and therefore necessary. Is it a wonder to see PF head, and now ROV leader leaving at a time when we have been made aware of potential major restructuring of employment in our two City Halls? Time will tell.

  2. Maybe the amount of registered voters went up,the actual turnout on Election Day has been an embarrassment. And we still have the issue of the misuse of Absentee ballots.

    1. You got that right Maria!! To bad Her and her whole crew aren’t leaving town as well. Even if they did they would still figure out a way to conduct business illegally, vote, find more AB’s and even run for office. Residency (or lack of actual residency) never stopped them before. Neither did traffic stop signs!!
      There’s more but I won’t get into that!!
      Question is who will take over that spot?

  3. Finally!…Good Riddance!…But I’m sure Mario will endorse another person “he can work with” for the next cycle..The position is an integral part of Mario’s AB “operation”,whoever he endorses,has to be on board,no questions asked..

    1. Harvey,
      You were right. The announcement was made today that the owner of the comedy club,Stress Factory, is “taking over” Harlan Haus. So,at the minimum,it looks like new management. It was reported by the Connecticut Post but it’s become impossible to post articles because of the pay wall. Maybe Lennie will give us the lowdown and find out what the new ownership plans to do. Thank you.

  4. All praise and glory to Mario Testa, Mario has been the chairman of the DTC during most of those 16 years. The voters of Bridgeport had there best chance to take Mario out of power this year by defeating Joe Ganim during the Democrat primary but by reelecting Joe Ganim that put Mario Testa back in power for the next 4 years. All praise and glory to Mario Testa.

      1. Harvey, I agree with you 100%, there were things that Marilyn didn’t do that cause her own defeat. Harvey during the time up the Democrat primary Joe Ganim didn’t have to spend any money negative political ads because Maria Pereira helped Ganim because that was all she would do on OIB, Maria wasn’t bad mouthing Joe Ganim and Mario Testa the two people who had Dennis Bradley attack Maria during her term on the BBOE and especially the boycott against Maria, no her time was on taking Senator Moore. It was not Maria responsible to help Marilyn but there was no one on OIB who was more against Marilyn Moore. What did Marilyn Moore do to Maria that set Maria off against Senator Moore because we all know what Ganim and Testa did to Maria. Maria Pereira got what she wanted, 4 more years of Joe and Mario.

        1. Ron, seriously you got to let this go.Maria stated numerous times here why she didn’t back Marilyn or Joe.No one wants to rehash this again. The only person responsible for Marilyn losing is Marilyn.
          Let’s move on now Ron, we need to stand together.We have no choice at this point..

          1. Harvey, I stated that there were things that Marilyn didn’t do that cause her own defeat. Harvey, you said, “No one wants to rehash this again,” really, so when do you review the errors and work on everything that cause the lost, as a firefighter we don’t wait to rehash to discuss what happen at an incident because we know immediately what correction we need to do. You better believe that Mario Testa is busy right now on to improve voter turnout and the absentee voting, Harvey what are you doing or what group and organization are you apart of that’s working on getting Mario out of power has the chairman of the DTC in March and Joe Ganim in 2023? Joe Ganim has had only been defeated twice since he first became mayor in 1991, the first defeated was to federal government who put Ganim in a federal prison and the second defeat for Joe Ganim was his lost to Marilyn Moore in the Democrat primary by over 300 votes at the voting polls. The only other person who came anywhere near beating Ganim was Chris Caruso who lost to Ganim in the Democrat primary by 270 votes. Harvey, whatever were the reason that Moore beat Ganim at the voting polls needs to be improve for the next candidate who would challenge Ganim in 2023, you need to know the good, the bad and the ugly. Harvey, as for Maria, she knew that she could not get elected to the BBOE because it is a citywide election and voters are tired of her act so her only choice was to run in her own district for the City Council.

  5. Harvey, when you had a choice for the Mayor you let it walk right out of your lives because a lack of signatures. Not because she cheated the system constantly with AB abuse, not because she was putting her friends into city positions while paying them exorbitant salaries, not while because she lied to the community time after time and certainly not because she deserted the city to run for governor, but because the WPF failed to get enough signatures to put her on the ballot.

    Suddenly Senator Moore wasn’t fit to run for Mayor and Maria constantly portrayed the good Senator Moore as incompetent. Harvey it defies credulity that you, Maria, Jeff or anyone else that excoriated Senator Moore in this form now would have the unmitigated gaul to complain about anything that Mayor Ganim does for the next four years! APPALLING, simply APPALLING!

    1. Don,myself,along with thousands of others voted for her in the primary.The people did their part.Again,all SHE had to do was get 200 signatures and chances are she would have won,she couldn’t do that for us,isn’t that the definition of “incompetent”??.And please don’t blame the WPF,the buck stopped at Marilyn,if she surrounded herself with better people,this wouldn’t have happened.She had one of the most experianced politician ever in Bpt on her(Chris Caruso),yet she shut him out,instead relying on Tony Barr to take her to victory..Ponderous…Regardless Don,it’d time to move on,seriously.

  6. Off topic,looks like Thomas Bucci(former mayor) is representing several members of the BPD and are charging that Capt.Rebecca Garcia’s promotion did not follow Civil Service rules.
    “Another day,another few tidbits of stuff happening in Bridgeport.”

      1. Frank, this is a sure win for Tom Bucci, Chief, Perez, Personnel Director David Dunn and the Director of Labor Relation Janene Hawkins all know what the City Charter states about promotions.

        The personnel director may, from time to time, hold promotion tests for any or all positions in the competitive division of the classified service which are allocated to classes which have been or shall be established to be at the promotion level by the civil service commission. When a position in a promotion class shall become vacant, and no appropriate reemployment list or employment list exists, the personnel director shall, within one hundred and twenty days of the date of the creation of the vacancy, hold a promotion test for such class. (Amended 1986 referendum)

    1. Don, hopefully the this new City Council does the research before approving this deal that will cost the taxpayers. Below is a portion of an article from the Connecticut Post.

      BRIDGEPORT — The City Council is preparing to make six-figure payments to two assistant police chiefs — Rebeca Garcia and James Nardozzi — but only one of them will actually need to show up for work.

  7. Best of luck to Ms. Ayala in her retirement; don’t let the Bpt. do nothing’s & wannabe’s dampen your holiday spirit & up coming New Year! Remember, misery loves company, so don’t let the bastards get you down!


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