City Employee Councilors Sayonara, Primary Post Mortem

Primary day has ended, but it’s not over. And even when the primary vote is certified following recounts, there’s the general election in November and then another vote for City Council president in December by peers. And guess what? When the new council meets in December it will do so without a city employee councilor in decades. Bit by bit, city employee councilors have been defeated, the latest two, Jim Holloway, the most tenured council member, and Milta Feliciano.

The issue of city employee councilors emerged in district campaigning in recent years as voters considered the conflict of members of the legislative and budget body approving their own wages and benefits and the lack of checks and balances on the executive branch.

City Council President Tom McCarthy had been among them, but received a city buyout more than a year ago of his job in labor relations. He recently took a similar position for the city of New Haven. After a nice run, 16 years on the council, 10 years as council president, McCarthy eschewed reelection this year. The past decade the election for council president among peers has been rather ho hum with McCarthy locking it up with little opposition each time.

Who’s in the mix for council president? Depends how the recounts shake out. East End councilor Eneida Martinez, former State Rep. Bob Keeley, former council president and state legislator Ernie Newton are among the names floated. Tuesday’s primary results show Keeley locked in a tie with Jeanette Herron in the North End 133rd District. A recount will take place. If they’re still knotted a runoff will settle it. Newton, as well, is in a recount with a slight lead over Wanda Simmons.

If Herron prevails over Keeley could she be an alternative for council president? Or perhaps someone else?

Some thoughts about district results:

130: For all the meowing about last year’s tax increase in Black Rock, incumbent Scott Burns, co-chair of Budget and Appropriations Committee, held his own in Black Rock School against challengers Christina Smith and Pete Spain. Overall, including the Aquaculture precinct, Burns trails Spain by 11 votes, according to unofficial returns. A recount will follow. Smith and Spain, newcomers to elected politics, aggressively and successfully captured the anti-establishment spirit in the neighborhood. The working class, lower end of the district Aquaculture that takes in the P.T. Barnum housing project and portion of the West End is not as impacted by taxes. That’s where Burns made gains, but appears short.

131: Urban warrior Jorge Cruz ran alone against incumbents Jack Banta and Denese Taylor-Moye. It’s tough to break through without a running partner working votes.

132: This district became ground zero for insurgent activism led by young guns Marcus Brown and Kyle Langan taking on party endorsed incumbent Evette Brantley and Rolanda Smith. Brown and Langan, backed by West Side operatives opposed to Brantley, ran up a large number in the Madison School precinct home to the higher-taxed Brooklawn neighborhood on the West Side. Voters have been asking for new blood and now they have it.

133: This has been the land of Tom McCarthy for a decade. Endorsed Dems Jeanette Herron and newcomer Michael DeFilippo, who has tended bar at Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa’s restaurant, faced a challenge from veteran pol Keeley and zoning commissioner Anne Pappas Phllips in her first candidacy outside of a Democratic Town Committee run. Keeley pushed anti establishment, but that’s a hard message to stick when you’ve been part of the establishment for decades. DeFilippo finished first, according to unofficial returns. A recount and/or runoff between Keeley and Herron will settle the matter.

135: Incumbents Mary McBride-Lee and Richard Salter, following a falling-out with District Leader Steve Nelson, waged a primary against party endorsed Rosalina Roman-Christy and Darrett Evans Moss. Call this one a split decision. McBride-Lee and Roman-Christy have won, according to unofficial returns. And that’s part of the fascination of these contests: you can run as a team but some mischievous voters revel in splitting.

136th: Incumbent Joe Casco had to go it alone against incumbent Alfredo Castillo and Maria Zambrano-Viggiano. State Rep. Chris Rosario has emerged as the leader of this circuitous district that includes the East Side and cuts across the city to take in the Hollow and lower North End.

137th: Four years ago the city’s queen of absentee ballots City Clerk Lydia Martinez and Milta Feliciano fended off Maria Valle and Aidee Nieves in a council primary. Valle and Nieves won on the machines but Martinez’s vaulted absentee ballot operation carried the day. My how the worm turned in that district. This time around Martinez supported Valle and Nieves, both of whom won on the machines against Feliciano and Hector Diaz, but blew out a convincing win via absentee voters.

138th. In what could be another split decision, incumbents Anthony Paoletto and Nessah Smith battled challengers Karen Jackson and Samia Suliman. This was a tale of two precincts, Jackson and Suliman performing well at JFK  and Paoletto and Smith winning Hooker. The unofficial totals Jackson 218, Smith 215, Suliman 203, Paoletto 202. Recount will follow.

139th. Last week at the Bridgeport Generation Now candidate forum at the Bijou Theater, incumbent Jim Holloway took the stage, greeted the audience and then remarked he had a close race, walked off the stage and out the door to campaign. Voters in the East End showed him the door after a mighty 26 years of district representation. Holloway and the other district incumbent Eneida Martinez were endorsed. Ernie Newton and Wanda Simmons challenged them on separate lines respectively. Newton showed he still has support in the Dunbar School precinct while Simmons, backed by a Connecticut Working Families Party effort, ran well in Harding. Martinez leads with 231 votes, followed by Newton 216, Simmons 209, Holloway 176. If Newton prevails in the recount his work is not done. Simmons will appear on the WFP line in November when a pool of unaffiliated voters can participate.



  1. Times are changing and it’s time to start fresh with someone new who has not been involve as a elected official and who have no old baggage. I strongly support either Christina Smith or Pete Spain as the next Bridgeport City Council president.

  2. I have lived in the 132 since 2011. I saw Marcus Brown and Kyle Langan more in the last 4 or 5 months that I saw Evette Brantley since 2011. Assuming these gentlemen chalk up the win in November, the 132 will be in good hands.

    1. Michael I agree with you. I welcomed the opportunity to work and support the next generation in our district. I have much hope they will prove to be well-informed, intelligent, independent representatives. As a resident for 42 years in the 132nd, and an elected official for over a couple of decades, it warms my heart to have been a part of this long-awaited outcome. I believe we’re halfway there,!

  3. Lennie..good analysis but If you can give us some thoughts about the 130th. I ,also,noticed the dichotomy of the voting results between Black Rock School and Aquaculture. As far as the property tax increases,most respectfully I will say it was a ROAR versus a meow. In your recollection,did you ever see The City Council Chamber Room have as many and as vocal protest as in that period when the new tax bills went out. I like and respect Scott Burns but I(and others) disagreed with some/many of his actions. The question becomes WHY did the vote run up for Scott Burns at Aquaculture. Rumor was it that Burn/Kane had very little presence in the Aquaculture district.I question whether the difference in vote totals between Black Rock School and Aquaculture was due to the fact that the Aquaculture district was less affected by the property tax increases. The fact is that the voting patterns at Aquaculture seem to always remain the same. There has been “talk” “rumor” about owned votes in Twin Towers and the P.T Barnum public housing complex. Lennie,do you have any thoughts about the “owned votes” analysis? Thank you.

    1. Frank, during Ganim 1 the council chambers was packed top and bottom to protest two asphalt plants, one in the South End and the other in the East End. There were residents picketing outside of Testo’s on Madison Ave.

    2. Frank, Tom Mulligan has said he rembers when city council meetings would have every row filled with citizens. They were not usually there to protest.
      He also tells how his elderly Aunts would call him after reading public notices in the paper – and demand he do something about – whatever the issue was, and there were times he was unaware of the issues. I’ve sat in many council meeting with perhaps fewer than 30 citizens in attendance. Why would any governing body change anything if citizens don’t show up in numbers to watch them and engage on a regular basis? People may complain they only see elected officials during elections, but how many people show up to both support and challenge their elected officials? If they don’t hear from consistency they think everything is just fine. Not showing up consistently is why unpopular development and agendas are passed. The council has known about and discussed development and ordinances for many meetings, then the public feels they are blindsided when the vote to approve is made public. Holding elected officials accountable is a very popular catch phrase. Working with them by showing up, writing, calling – reminding them why they were elected- before they break their campaign promises might just keep them from breaking their promise, and possibly be more effective than spending months and years working to get them out of office.

        1. Of course Tom White doesn’t want to talk about “corporate welfare.”

          “The Corporate Welfare State: How the Federal Government Subsidizes U.S. Businesses”

          By Stephen Slivinski
          May 14, 2007

          The federal government spent $92 billion in direct and indirect subsidies to businesses and private- sector corporate entities — expenditures commonly referred to as “corporate welfare” — in fiscal year 2006. The definition of business subsidies used in this report is broader than that used by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, which recently put the costs of direct business subsidies at $57 billion in 2005. For the purposes of this study, “corporate welfare” is defined as any federal spending program that provides payments or unique benefits and advantages to specific companies or industries

          1. Bridgeport City Hall, with the conivance of the City Council, has been giving away the ranch acre by acre, for years. Successive administrations have given out multiple-decade tax abatements to corporate interests, passed ’em out like party favors. That is corporate welfare, giving them a free ride. The city can’t tax the land owners so Black Rock and the North End property owners are taxed beyond comprehension.

            The city of Bridgeport is stuck with properties contaminated by industrial pollutants and toxic chemicals. A rubber factory has burned, TWICE. An abandoned perfume factory burned. Both buildings were full of barrels of God knows what, leeching into the ground. O & G has been spreading dust over residents for years. City Hall has been apathetic. (Maybe this is due to the fact many of the effected residents are renters.) 

            We have a failing public education system, arguably the worst in the state of Connecticut. The BOE is snarled by lawsuits, pettiness, bickering and a collective inability to focus on the needs of students.  Too many young people in Bridgeport settle differences through violence because they didn’t acquire conflict resolution skills in school. 

            More power to the young Democrats challenging the status quo. New political blood is badly needed. It will be an uphill effort. The DTC under the chairmanship of Mario Testa and his lieutenants will not give up without  a fight. 

      1. Jennifer Buchanan..I always love to talk to you because I learn a lot of information based on your previous experience here in Black Rock. However,Tom Mulligan has supported and has been a part of the establishment. Sooooo..what are we to do?

      2. Jennifer you comments are true. It’s been my experience that those who promoted and supported these candidates have a stake in observing their commitment and performance to their respective districts. I know of no elected official doing it on their own. I played a large role in the election of Langan and Brown; I know through my experience what is expected of them. If they are willing to learn the job, keep there noses out of the Executive tier, except when necessary, they will have my support again. If they don’t, well then they better take a close look at the numbers of their campaign and how they got there. I can tell you for certain, they could never have generated that support if not for the few who stepped in.

  4. congrats to the winners in the 130th i could not vote in this election because last year i registered as a republican but i will register as a dem again soon. im very shocked at the low low turnout at the dunbar precinct the east end usually turns out at higher rate 152 for the higest vote getter is bad. anyhow congrats to ernie weather you like him or not he is a good campaigner

    1. Donj..I live in the 130th and did some canvassing. I am darn proud of the turnout in the 130th. Just off the top of my head,I believe more votes were cast in the 130th than in any other CC district. This is a reflection of the people in the 130th and the candidates that they needed to choose from. On a philosophical note,everyone was a winner in the 130th. Everyone still has a future if they decide to stay and live here. Dan Roach got his 500 votes out but it was not enough this time. The only losers were Dan Roach and the 130th Democratic Town Committee members.

      1. Because of the voter totals in the 130, Christina Smith will enjoy bragging rights, should she choose to do so (though it’s not her style) for a campaign effort that put an African American female homeowner (canned by the Ganim team when they came into office as one of their early efforts at efficiency) with great educational credentials and deliberate decision making style to garner top individual honors. Quiet confidence and evidence of competence, by Smith Spain team worked this year whatever else was working in the 130. What will happen when Council persons ask questions and expect full timely responses from the legislature? Time will tell.

  5. For all the change we are seeing from the primary results, do we understand the meaning of the changes. For instance, there is the situation of James Holloway, longest serving Council person at this moment, but despite choosing to do some campaigning the night of the “gen now Forum” rather than speak to the audience with “words of wisdom” it seems it was for naught. Voters provided him with scant support on primary day. When he appeared at the last Council meeting I had asked him how School Building Committee was operating. At that September 5 meeting he said he had left the SBC several months previously.

    I asked him why and he told me that it was because of “conflict of interest” because his boss was John Ricci at Public Facilities. That seemed strange to me because that “conflict” had been present in the Finch and Fabrizi administrations as well, it seemed to me. A boss can tell you what he likes and what he dislikes about issues before the Council, and that can put you in a corner, can’t it? How you are evaluated, whether a privilege or personal favor is extended, may hang in the balance. Isn’t that the nature of conflicts, even if supposedly you are protected by union membership, or civil service rules? So Mr. Holloway left the SBC where he did not favor public input and now will be leaving the Council. Will he write a version of municipal history for the past two decades? Isn’t it about the stories we live to tell? And the number of people who hear them told credibly that allow change in the right direction to proceed? Can story telling in such way correct past wrongs? Time will tell.

  6. Ron, the fact is that all most all of those from the 139th that voted made up their mind weeks ago who they would vote for just like all most everyone else from every other district.

  7. Does Bob Keeley need any help in the North End if there is a runoff.I’ll be honest and say I like Jeannette Herron but if she wants to remain a Testa puppet,everyone in the rest of Bridgeport needs to go up to the 133rd and take it away from Testa.What a joke. a bartender got the most votes in the 133rd. DeFilippo is a bartender at Testa’s restaurant. How low can we go????

      1. DeFilipo will become the the new Paoletto in the next CC starting December 1st. Paoletto rhymes with DeFilippo.Maybe Jim Fox can write a sonnet about that. BTW,I had the honor of meeting Mr.Fox for the first time in the last couple of days.

  8. I never heard of anyone having a Sign Fetish, someone said, her basement is full of stolen political signs all the way back to the 70’s. (This Class Act needs help!)

    Dr. Phil : Please welcome Suzy to the the show today Folks.

    Audience: applause …………

    Dr. Phil: Now Suzy, when was the last time you had the urge to steal someone Political sign.

    Suzy Martin : Yesterday Dr. Phil, I can’t control myself , when I see a political sign, I have to have it.

    Dr. Phil : Is it just political Signs you steal Suzy?
    Some people are saying that a lot of Tag Sale signs also go missing in Black Rock , do you have any of those signs in your basement ?

    Suzy Martin: No! I only take political signs from people I don’t like, or if it’s a blue Sign, like the ones I use to have when I campaign for City Council in Black Rock.

    Dr. Phil : Is it because someone stole your signs when you ran for office?

    Suzy Martin: Yes Dr. Phil !
    I would stay up all night thinking someone like that flucking Jim Fox is stealing my signs as I try to sleep and it would keep me up all night, the next morning I would run down to the corner to see if my Political signs where still there, cursing Jim Fox’s name as I ran!

    Dr. Phil : So Suzy, if we can get you some professional help, would you let us do that for you?

    Suzy Martin: Will I be able to keep the signs that I already have in my Basement?

    Dr. Phil : I’m sure we can work that out Suzy, but you’re going to have to return the ones you stole this week from the Smith and Spain campaign okay!

    Suzy Martin: Can I just keep one?

    Dr. Phil : Were going to have to talk about that another day Suzy.

    1. I agree with Ron Mackey. (Alert the media.) smith or Spain for CC President. Both will aquaint themselves with the rules of order, the appropriate ordinances governing the City Council.

      Previous CC Presidents couldn’t be bothered to do so. Ignorance means a person doesn’t know any better. Stupid means a person knew better but doesn’t give a shit. (Stand up, Tom McCarthy.) Ignorance is defensible. Stupidity is not.

  9. State Statute allows Teachers to serve on municipal legislative bodies.
    Jeanette Herron is a Board of Education employee but is not a Teacher.
    If she prevails in the vote recount the city council will continue to have a member with a conflict.


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