Veteran City Council Member Castillo And Education Activist Join Forces For District Run

Zambrano and Castillo
Zambrano Viggiano and Castillo file papers in Town Clerk’s office.

Incumbent city councilman from the 136th District Alfredo Castillo has paired up with community activist Maria Zambrano Viggiano to represent the East Side and Hollow neighborhoods. The other councilman for the district Jose Casco says he plans to seek reelection and is searching for a campaign partner that would set up a September Democratic primary.

Castillo and Zambrano Viggiano appear well poised for the Democratic Town Committee endorsement led by District Leader Chris Rosario who also represents the 128th State House District in state legislature. The Democratic Town Committee will endorse candidates for council, school board and city sheriff July 24 at Testo’s Restaurant. Casco has had a falling-out with district committee members.

Zambrano Viggiano has been involved in education issues in the city for many years. She served as executive director of the now defunct education advocacy group Excel Bridgeport, a pro charter school organization. She also managed the voter approved citywide ballot initiative in November 2009 that led to more funding for the city’s library system.

Castillo has served the district since 2013.

Zambrano Viggiano grew up in the 136th District and has volunteered on a number of campaigns including former Board of Education chair Max Medina’s 2003 race for mayor. After college she served as a public school teacher through Teach for America. She has a masters degree in education from Harvard.

Last year she co-founded the Greater Bridgeport Young Democrats that is becoming a growing factor in city races with younger faces involved in the political process. She is the Connecticut regional director for Leadership for Educational Equity.

“I’m excited to partner with Maria to serve the constituents of the 136th,” said Castillo in a statement. “She shares my deep passion for helping people and making Bridgeport a better place for all our residents.”

“I am running for City Council because I believe in Bridgeport and because I love Bridgeport,” said Zambrano Viggiano. “I’m honored to be running with a seasoned Council member like Fredo. I’m excited to learn from him and from our neighbors as we begin this campaign together.”



  1. This is unbelievable.

    Maria Zambrano is the former director of Ex$ell Bridgeport which is primarily funded by Steve Mandel, the Greenwich billionaire involved in the illegal takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education.

    Ex$ell Bridgeport, under Maria Zambrano’s leadership, raised and spent $100,000 in the failed Charter Referendum led by Mayor Finch to take our right to vote away for our board of education members.

    Steve Mandel’s director of the ZOOM Foundation, Meghan Lowney, was all over emails with the Chair of the SBOE requesting that her communications be confidential regarding the coup. She is on the board of Ex$ell Bridgeport and was standing with Mayor Finch at the SBOE meeting when they voted 5 to 4 to authorize the illegal takeover.

    Ex$ell Bridgeport became so toxic, thanks in part to Judge Lopez’ amazing op-eds exposing Ex$ell Bridgeport, the board forced Maria Zambrano to resign.

    Maria Zambrano was the director when Jessica Martinez was hired and employed as the parent organizer. Once the new director,Damion, was hired, Jessica was so resistant and combative that she was let go.

    If anyone thinks that all these pro-privitization, pro-charter school candidates running for office is purely coincidental, they are dillusional.

    1. Right Steve, Maria Zambrano received her elementary and secondary education from the BPS, went onto to an ivy league college and then came back to Bridgeport to do EVERYTHING in her power to destroy the very teachers who wrote letters of recommendation to help her attend Harvard and to destroy the BPS on behalf of a white billionaire from Greenwich. I think that pretty much sums Maria Zambrano up.

  2. No, Steve, I do not “sound” like a rabid dog. I am not projecting “sound” at all.

    I am staying factual information calmly and with focus.

    I am not jumping from topic to topic with incomplete sentences, a multitude of exclamation points, or with a diatribe regarding a multitude of topics that often do not intersect in any meaningful way. I will leave that to you.

    1. Maria Zambrano, Jessica Martinez and Kyle Landon are supported by white millionaires, billionaires and Wall Street Executives whose only interest is privatization of public education and lining their pockets on the backs of brown and black children.

      All three are graduates of the BPS and instead of standing up for the very public schools that helped them develop into the adults they have become, they want to instead tear down our true public schools.

      They are all bought and paid for by the white millionaires, billionaires, and Wall Street Executives making millions on the backs of impoverished urban, minority children.

    2. You are completely incapable of debating differences of opinion in an intelligent and fact based manner.

      Your posts seem more appropriate from a teenager.

      Yours truly,

      “Community Terrorist”

        1. Gage, why don’t you focus on the 138th District? It is where you reside, where you have resided for many years, however I can’t think of one substantive thing you have accomplished in your own neighborhood.

          You partnered with Dollie Fonseca, she cut a back room deal with Mario Testo and left you out to dry, you shared that you made a mistake partnering with her and were even warned by those closest to you about working with her.

          Practice what you preach, Gage.

          1. MZV & Fredo have a terrific work ethic and have been openly endorsed by their District Leader on FaceBook. They have the tools necessary to do the work, and win. Its sad you’re starting off like this, for when it comes time to vote on the BOE budget next year…

          2. So let me get this straight, Gage, you are publicly stating on OIB that because I am opposed to Maria Zambrano, Jessica Martinez, and Kyle Lange that these individuals will oppose increasing the BOE appropriation should they be elected because our 21,000 public school children should pay the price for my lack of support and complete opposition to these candidates?

            Thank you for the information. I will be sure we parlay this into part of the “rap” as we knock on doors. Evette Brantley and Renee Casco, I hope you are reading this?

          3. Right, district leader Chris Rosario whom held a press conference in Hartford just weeks ago advocating for more funding for Charter $chools when he has done absolutely nothing for the BPS.

            We have over 21,000 students in the most underfunded school district in CT, and he’s out advocating for charter $chool funding while doing absolutely nothing for our true public schools.

          4. Replying to you last statement at the bottom:

            What do their candidacies have to do with you? I support Primary challenges, its part of a healthy democracy. I also think its best to not be combative, especially when you’ll most likely end up working with these folks in your final two years on the BPTBOE.

          5. Chris Rosario endorsed this Harvard Grad? Our Chris Rosario that everyone in Bridgeport loves? If he thinks they are a good choice for his district who can question that? Chris works his ass off for Bridgeport. He is well respected across the city. His endorsement speaks volumes. I am proud of Chris Rosario and his accomplishments and will believe that his support of this ticket will spell victory.

            Maria P, What will you do when the BOE and the council have people that support parental choice of schools?
            You make it sound like Council people have a one track agenda like yourself. They are being elected to serve their constituents, not your personal agenda! Best of luck to Fredo and MZV.

            You are going to energize the Portugese community? Really? You have been elevated as the voice of the Portuguese? Why? You speak the language? Cook their food? Patronize their restaurants? How are you going to energize the Portuguese community? Since when do they need an advocate to help them vote? Just curious.

          6. Steve, just look at Ganim’s campaign filings which are public. He has received very few donations from the Portuguese community.

            Myself and others worked to get the word out NOT to donate to him. I have received plenty of calls from Portuguese people who received donation calls or letters. I told them don’t give him one dollar. And, I haven’t seen a SINGLE one of those individuals listed on his campaign reports. Not one.

  3. Maria Viggiano is one of the most intelligent, hardworking, well-spoken, giving and caring people I know. She works very hard in her community for all the right reasons, and I always see her giving back. I’m excited she will bring her experience, focus and knowledge to City Council! Happy to support Maria and she will make a great Councilwoman!

  4. Maria Zambrano, Jessica Martinez and Kyle Landon are supported by white millionaires, billionaires and Wall Street Executives whose only interest is privatization of public education and lining their pockets on the backs of brown and black children.

    All three are graduates of the BPS,and instead of standing up to protect the very institutions that helped them develop into productive adults, they will stand with wealthy elitists who have never spent 24 consecutive hours in Bridgeport to help tear down our true public schools.

    All three represent the interests of those who never go to sleep wondering if our children are going to be okay, they go to sleep wondering how much money they will make off the backs of our children.

      1. Maria Viggiano, Jessica Martinez and Kyle Langan are true education advocates and they all represent the change this city needs. They support all students and education overall.

        Interested in learning more about what Kyle, a certified teacher, is about? Send us an email or reach out to him to talk about his experience and vision.

  5. Let’s go, Maria!! MZV will be a fierce and positive force on the City Council representing the 136th district. It’s been a pleasure working with her through the Greater Bridgeport Young Democrats and getting to know her better over the last two years- her passion and love for Bridgeport is admirable. The future is bright!!

    We need more women to step up and run for office at all levels of government!

  6. MZV, I am so proud of the work you have done establishing the Greater Bridgeport Young Democrats. You have inspired so many of us to get involved with the community, and to throw our hats in the ring to run for office. I am so moved that you are now a candidate for Municipal Office.

    You and Fredo make a great team, and I’m sure your tenacity will prevail come September 12th!

    Go! Fight! Win!

  7. Not a single “young democrat” can challenge my post on Maria Zambrano regarding Ex$ell Bridgeport, Greenwich billionaire Steve Mandel, the $100,000 spent on the Charter Referendum, etc.

    You can’t debate the points I made because they are true.

    You can only take out your pom-poms and serve as cheerleaders,

      1. Many people did not want to vote for Anthony Paoletto because of his father, however I stressed to voters that Anthony Paoletto should be judged on Anthony Paoletto’s actions and record, not his fathers. I persuaded most opposed to him to vote for him based on that premise.

        I vetted Ganim more thoroughly than anyone else. I met with him five times and made him walk my neighborhood to see how my neighbors felt.

        I supported him and he has broken EVERY single promise he made to me around our public schools.

        Now Anthony, Nessah and Ganim have a record to run on. I have Anthony and Nessah’s literature already laminated where they promised to:

        – make sure city hall holds the line on taxes

        – make sure our neighborhood and magnet schools have the resources they need

        – make sure we have an increased police presence

        Now we will go door to door with their own literature and use it against them and tie their broken promises to Ganim every single chance we get. We will begin laying the foundation against Ganim now for his statewide race and mayoral race in 2019.

        It’s called being strategic.

        Anyone who knows me knows politicians get one chance to lie to me, they don’t get a second.

        Maria Zambrano’s actions were deplorable, Anthony, Nessah and Ganim’s actions have been deplorable as well.

        Anthony and Nessah are next on that list I keep in my right top hand drawer. Then we move onto town committee where the next batch will be dealt with.

        I practice EVERYTHING I preach.

  8. There are many new faces appearing early to face the voters for City Council seats. I wish them a good return on their investments in door knocking and engaging likely voters in good conversation. It is a necessity in an active democracy.

    I am running classes in City fiscal matters that certainly can be helpful when you meet the public, and should have you at full speed when you are elected. Contact me at 203-259-9642 to attend the next scheduled session. We have modified them to run after 7:30 PM so that they do not interfere with knocking on doors. Leave your name, number and best time to reach you? No expense to this investment meant to make you more effective than most current Council members about fiscal alternatives to the status quo. Isn’t it interesting to find that folks who have received a solid educational foundation know that more learning is the only way to grow into the demands of responsible representation? Time will tell.


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