Winds Of Change On City Council?

Rick Torres and Sue Brannelly ride on a bike for two. Will the tandem end?
Rick Torres and Sue Brannelly ride on a bike for two. Will the tandem end?

There’s Bill Finch, Joe Ganim and Mary-Jane Foster, Howard Gardner and Charlie Coviello too running for mayor on the Democratic side. Enrique Torres is a Republican mayoral candidate. Okay, what about the City Council?

Some key members of the city’s budget and legislative body are determining (or maybe they’re not saying publicly) if they’ll seek reelection. Others are weighing who they’ll support for mayor. Some of this will impact the respective mayoral candidates because of votes they bring to the table.

A large question mark is the 130th District, covering Black Rock and the West End, that pairs Torres and Democrat Sue Brannelly. Torres won his seat in 2013, but now is seeking his third shot at the mayoralty. Word is Brannelly has had enough after barely surviving reelection two years ago. Brannelly, a Finch supporter, has served as co-chair of the council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee, a demanding position, with little fanfare. Maybe she’d rather devote her volunteer time to other causes? Council members receive $9,000 stipends to cover expenses in lieu of a salary.

If Torres and Brannelly are both out, who’ll replace them as candidates? One candidate in the wings is citizen fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee who’s trying to determine where he fits in as a City Council insurgent. Democrat? Republican? Something else?

In the West Side 132nd District incumbent Bob Halstead is supporting Joe Ganim while his council partner Trish Swain is backing Foster. Swain, a budget committee member as well, has been a balanced voice on the council. Ask her a question and you get a direct answer, not necessarily with a biased agenda.

Feliciano, Ganim, Hernandez
Joe Ganim flanked by City Councilwoman Milta Feliciano and East Side District Leader Gil Hernandez.

There’s pockets of fascination in this election cycle such as the East Side 137th District, the domain of the city’s queen of absentee ballots Lydia Martinez, generally a Finch supporter. Her council partner Milta Feliciano is on the public payroll as chief of Veteran’s Affairs, but she has attended two Ganim fundraisers. It’s not often someone who works at the pleasure of the mayor strays. Finch spy or legitimate Ganim supporter?

So the future makeup of the City Council is definitely a work in progress.



  1. With Halstead backing Joey and Swain with Foster, maybe there’ll be no endorsed candidates in the 132nd. Now that would be a boil in Finch’s butt. Or a Boyle in Finch’s ass.

  2. Lennie, what a great introduction (for the second time):
    “citizen fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee who’s trying to determine where he fits in as a City Council insurgent. Democrat? Republican? Something else?”

    There is much advice out there when you are seeking a Council position “independent” of a party as a petition candidate. I am a Registered Democrat. So I talked with Danny Roach a few weeks back and he shared he was seeking a running mate for Sue Brannelly. Other folks have advised about other party tickets but the wisdom of forfeiting my Democratic Registration in this City that has Democratic primary voters the day of a primary still asking whether Line A or Line B is the Republican candidate, inclines me to petition as an independent with strong WATCHDOG credentials. After all if any party claims WATCHDOG credentials in this City at this time, it would raise my hackles and cause me to growl. Fiscal monitoring and oversight are not practiced. It is unheard of, frankly.

    I have been advised to engage a talented partner in the endeavor and I am following that serious advice with great hope. Black Rock will probably continue to be favored because of the expectations, connections and willingness to use their voice of residents, but getting a street paved, or a new park grassed, or a tree removed is not the same as monitoring legacy expenses, tracking trends in Grand List over the years, or securing genuine legislative support to create a semblance of regular checks and balance action with the Council. As I pursue this developing campaign I look forward to sharing financial data and general information with other candidates for Council in other parts of the City who find no credible or easy way to come up to speed on this important topic. Time will tell.


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