The Charter Revision Commission will conduct a public hearing Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 45 Lyon Terrace. What’s on your mind? The panel has been focusing on education initiatives and likely will send to the City Council for approval a question that asks voters to choose between elected or appointed school board positions, or perhaps a hybrid. School board members are currently elected and Mayor Bill Finch has been weighing in hard on the side of a mayoral-appointed body, saying if you’re going to blame me for schools authorize me the power to improve them.
Other questions voters could decide include minority-party representation on the City Council, a streamlining of the reporting process involving the economic development department, extending the city’s budget-making calendar closer in line with the Connecticut Legislature so that state funds don’t become a guessing game for local budget impact. Voters will act on the charter questions during the November presidential election.
During the past 25 years voter-approved charter changes include budget authority for the City Council (eliminating the Board of Apportionment and Taxation); mayoral appointment of the police and fire chiefs to five-year terms with an option to appoint them to one final five-year term; creating an Office of Policy and Management with a director who builds the budget presented to the mayor and City Council and an Office of Finance with a director who oversees the city treasurer, tax assessor and tax collector.
In 1998, voters also approved a four-year term for mayor. Finch is the first mayor to win two four-year terms as a result of that charter change.
Attorney Steven Mednick has been retained by the city to provide advice in drafting a new City Charter. Mednick has advised charter commissions and drafted new city charters for Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain, East Windsor and Hamden. Finch issued this statement last month when he announce formation of a charter panel.
Harry Weischel, Democrat, vice president with Arnold Peck’s Commercial World, has been a long-time city resident active in a number of social service and city athletic programs. He founded the city’s Grassroots Tennis Program. He has served on the city’s Ethics Commission.
Charlie Valentino, Republican, served years ago as the chairman of the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee. He has been a long-time state marshal involved in serving summons and complaints in state and federal civil matters.
George Estrada, Republican, vice president for Facilities at the University of Bridgeport, served under mayors Mary Moran and John Fabrizi as chief of Public Works and Public Facilities. An intriguing selection by the mayor considering his past issues with the University of Bridgeport where his primary opponent Mary-Jane Foster works as an executive vice president.
William Marshall, Democrat, pastor of Bridgeport Christian Life Center on Connecticut Avenue.
Cathleen Simpson, Democrat, labor relations attorney for the state Office of Policy and Management. She graduated from the University of Bridgeport School of Law.
Florisca Carter, unaffiliated, director of operations for Achievement First Bridgeport Academy. She is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Ruben Felipe, Democrat, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Finch. Felipe has taken on an expanded role serving as the city’s point person for redevelopment projects on the city’s East Side.