Barring a change in the political zeitgeist Nov. 2, four new members will officially join the 20-unit City Council in December.
Many veterans of the legislative body remain such as Council President Aidee Nieves who is likely to be chosen by her colleagues as leader for another two years. She will then announce committee assignments where the defining work of the council takes place such as the budget, contracts, economic development and ordinances.
What impact will they have?
Let’s start with Simmons who squeaked by incumbent Eneida Martinez in the September primary. Diagnosed with covid days after her win sans vaccination, her ramifications are already being felt. While recovering, the anti-vaxxer is largely communicating via her Facebook page defending her campaign silence on vaccination while actively engaging voters in the East End. It only came to light after her diagnosis was publicly revealed.
Simmons had the backing of the Working Families Party during the primary and will occupy that line and Democratic banner in November all but guaranteeing her a win albeit on the campaign shelf. Martinez is waging a write-in campaign, but that requires tremendous resources to activate voters during a sleepy general election. Speaking of resources, had the WFP leadership known about Simmons’ rabid anti-vax position, would it have endorsed her? Simmons won by 13 votes, a 7-vote swing between her closest opponent Martinez. Without WFP resources, Simmons comes up short. And, if actively known in the neighborhood about her personal anathema to the vaccine, she likely loses handily.
Framing herself anti-administration Simmons is not likely to be a consensus vote on the council. But who knows based on her secretive nature how she will vote? Speaking of administration loathsome, when the council resumes in-person sessions to be determined, Simmons will be seated in the vicinity of the emotive Maria Pereira. They don’t like each other. Could lend to intriguing exchanges.
Pereira, popular in her district, brings with her to the council Michele Small who’s been in her advocacy circle for several years. In her years campaigning in the Upper East Side, Pereira has broken with everyone she has supported for City Council including outgoing incumbent Samia Suliman.
How long will the Pereira-Small partnership last? Depends how Small votes. Pereira reliably votes against the administration. She preens independent of the administration but balks at aligned council partners voting contrary to her positions. For Pereira, independence is a relative term.
Former councilman Michael DeFilippo, under federal indictment for alleged election violations, voted often with Pereira his enmity was such toward Mayor Joe Ganim and Nieves. In fact, in at least one occasion DeFilippo changed his yes vote when he learned of Pereira’s no vote.
Ray Collette, DeFilippo’s brief replacement on the council, lost his September primary bid. Aikeem Boyd’s stunning win in the 133rd District brings a fresh face to the council and North End constituency. Running alone, he amassed the most votes running against two endorsed candidates including incumbent Jeanette Herron who retained her seat.
Boyd echoes a refined temperament departure from the irascible DeFilippo. Those who know Boyd say he will not be an anti vote just for the sake of it.
Tyler Mack will be another new face on the council in December joining 131 District incumbent Jorge Cruz. Mack defeated incumbent Denese Taylor-Moye by eight votes in South End and Downtown polling areas. This race, as well as Boyd’s victory, were among districts where the civic group Bridgeport Generation Now Votes enjoyed victories of primary candidates it backed.