Rolanda Smith is Bridgeport’s newest City Council member.
The City Council Monday night, following a recommendation by the West Side 132nd Democratic Town Committee, approved Smith to fill the vacancy of Evette Brantley, following her recent death.
The vote was 15 for Smith and two for Dasha Spell, a candidate for the office in the recent election cycle. Two City Council newcomers Aikeem Boyd and and Tyler Mack voted for Spell.
Councilors Maria Pereira and Michele Small abstained from the vote, asserting a special election should have taken place to fill the seat.
Brantley passed away after her reelection but prior to her oath of office.
Only two candidates submitted applications to the district town committee.
See their application responses below:
The Town Committee issued this statement to council members for consideration:
The 132nd Town Committee first would like to acknowledge and agree with those who would have preferred that this vacant City Council seat be filled by special election. However, despite our preference for a special election as a matter of public policy, we do agree with many others who say that, as a matter of law, the City Charter (specifically the broad language of Chapter 5) prescribes a process in which the Council fills the vacancy by majority vote when there is a vacancy on the City Council “for any reason” and does not prescribe a process for a special election as it does with respect to vacancies in the Office of Mayor (see Chapter 2). We believe that this Charter language is ripe for reconsideration by a future Charter revision commission.
Anticipating that the Council will fill the vacancy, the 132nd Town Committee has decided to fulfill its role, by tradition, of recommending someone to fill the vacancy. Of course, the City Council is in no way legally bound by our recommendation. We have taken our advisory role seriously, and have tried to engage in a vetting process for which there is no real precedent. Our process included openly seeking interested Democratic electors of the 132nd District to answer a very brief questionnaire, submit a resume highlighting past volunteer/civic engagement, and meet
with the 132nd Town Committee for an interview. We received interest from two great candidates–Rolanda Smith and Dasha Spell–and their answers to the questionnaire and resumes are attached hereto.
In the view of the 132nd Town Committee, both candidates meet the basic qualifications for the position under the City Charter–that is, they are both Democrats registered to vote in the 132nd District (and were so at the time of Councilwoman Brantley’s passing). Additionally, they satisfy several other non-Charter conditions that we set as a Town Committee for our endorsement:
They both live in the Bassick precinct, neither of them are City/BOE employees, and neither of them have any apparent conflicts of interest if they should be selected for the Council. Furthermore, both candidates have sought the office in past elections, and have demonstrated a level of community engagement that is laudable and demonstrates their care and concern for the needs of the people in the district. Ultimately, it is our view that both of them are appropriate for the City Council’s consideration.
However, after thoughtfully considering both candidates, it is the decision of the 132nd Town Committee to endorse Rolanda Smith to fill the Council vacancy. Rolanda Smith has lived in the 132nd District for over 20 years and has deep roots with many of the constituents that live in the district. Ms. Smith’s record of volunteer service to those most in need throughout the City of Bridgeport is beyond extraordinary. The 132nd Town Committee has great confidence in her ability to represent the residents of the district and to address their needs by connecting our residents with city services.
We appreciate the City Council’s consideration of our recommendation