Dems Endorse Municipal Candidates, City Council Primaries Loom

Martinez, Robinson
Party-endorsed candidates for school board Chaila Robinson and Jessica Martinez.

Get set for a bunch of primaries for City Council, possibly 9 of 10 districts. The Democratic Town Committee Monday night at Testo’s Restaurant endorsed candidates for Board of Education, city sheriff and the 10 districts encompassing the legislative body on a day its leader Tom McCarthy announced he’s not seeking reelection to his seat in the North End 133rd District.

With Town Chair Mario Testa presiding over the endorsement session and Mayor Joe Ganim observing after addressing party regulars, the Dems endorsed for citywide four-year term school board seats education activists Jessica Martinez, Chaila Robinson as well as former board member Hernan Illingworth who was knocked off in a primary two years ago. Former City Council member and retired city educator Sybil Allen, a long-time ally of Testa, was endorsed to fill out the final two years of the seat vacated by Republican Kevin McSpirit who was replaced by John Weldon per appointment by Mayor Joe Ganim. Under state law if the school board fails to fill a vacancy within 30 days it goes to the mayor to fill it with a replacement decided by voters the next municipal election year.

Dems endorsed for citywide city sheriff slots incumbent Steve Nelson, former long-time sheriff Dennis Scinto and former city councilor Anderson Ayala.

The City Council, it appears, is where the primary action will take place in September. Potential primary challengers are expected to hit the pavement this week  to collect signatures for certification. Here’s how it breaks down by district.

Kane, Burns
Young Dems veep Rowan Kane, left, was endorsed with incumbent Scott Burns in the 130th Black Rock/West End district.

130th, Black Rock/West End, incumbent Scott Burns was endorsed with Rowan Kane, vice president of the revitalized Bridgeport Area Young Democrats. Black Rockers Pete Spain and Christina Smith will wage a primary challenge.

131st, South End/West End/ Downtown, incumbents Denese Taylor-Moye and Jack Banta were endorsed for another two years. Community activist Jorge Cruz says he will primary. It’s unclear if Cruz will have a primary partner.

132nd, West Side, incumbent Evette Brantley was endorsed with Rolanda Smith. Young bloods Kyle Langan and Marcus Brown, backed by the Young Dems, will primary.

133rd, North End, with McCarthy packing it in, committee members endorsed incumbent Jeanette Herron and fellow DTC member Michael DeFilippo, a barkeeper at Testo’s. Former State Rep. Bob Keeley and zoning commissioner Anne Pappas Phillips will primary.

134th, North End, incumbents Michelle Lyons and AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia were endorsed. No one has stepped forward yet to primary.

135th, North End/Whiskey Hill, District Leader Steve Nelson decided to go in another direction, collecting the votes to endorse Rosalina Christy and Darrett Evans Moss over incumbents Mary McBride-Lee and Richard Salter. “I’m not a yes person,” says McBride-Lee who vows a primary with Salter. “I’ve got a new pair of sneakers to knock on doors.”

136th, East Side, Hollow, lower North End, incumbent Alfredo Castillo was backed with education advocate Maria Zambrano Viggiano. Incumbent Jose Casco says he will primary.

137th, East Side, incumbent Aidee Nieves will join forces with former council member Maria Valle. Incumbent Milta Feliciano is teaming up with former State Rep. Hector Diaz, a city police commissioner, for a primary.

138th, Upper East Side, District Leader Maria Pereira worked the committee votes for Timothy Bassey and Michele Small over incumbents Anthony Paoletto and Nessah Smith. Two years ago Pereira backed Paoletta and Smith. They had a falling out. “This will be the battle of the summer,” says Paoletto. “We’re not going away without a fight.”

139th, East End, incumbents Eneida Martinez and James Holloway, the longest serving council member, were endorsed. Former council member and state legislator Ernie Newton who lobbied for the endorsement says he will primary. East End neighborhood activist Wanda Simmons may also be in the primary mix. In an interesting twist District Leader Ralph Ford refused to cast a vote for either Holloway or Newton saying Holloway’s been there too long and Newton has too many issues hanging over his head following his state conviction and six-month sentence for violating campaign finance laws. Newton is appealing. Martinez, also a committee member, said she wanted to support Newton with whom she has worked on second chances opportunities for her constituency. Holloway had four district votes to Newton’s three with Ford abstaining. Martinez for Newton would have made it four each. So she cast her vote for Holloway to give him the endorsement. Each DTC district has nine members.

The Democratic Town Committee endorsement hasn’t meant a whole lot in recent years as the city electorate has embraced a growing anti-establishment feeling.

So it’s game on in what could be City Council primaries in nine districts, assuming challengers qualify with certified petition signatures.



  1. I live in Black Rock and WHO IS ROWAN KANE???????. I was a Young Democrat before Rowan Kane as born. I need to talk to other “Young Democrats” in the 130th.

  2. jennifer , Rowan Kane is a young dem. I’ve met him a few times. He seems like a very bright and articulate individual. He will make a great candidate and I have been a fan of both Burns and Katy.I am pleased that the young DEms are integrating with the DTC. I have met many of their members and they are a great group. I think they will make a great team. I guess we will have to wait for the primary. I do not expect fireworks and certainly no contest from the Republican candidates.

    Frank Gyure, “Steve Stastrom”? Why would he run for council when he is an outstanding State Rep.?

    I was honored to nominate Michelle Lyons and Amy Marie Vizzo-Pannicia. 14 years and 12 years of experience between them. 2 independent strong woman. They have done an outstanding job . That is not only my opinion but most constituents in the 134th.

    I must admit I am totally surprised at a few of the endorsements. I am going to enjoy being a spectator.

    Congratulations to all of the endorsed candidates. I just received my invitation to Mary Evette Brantley and Rolanda Smith’s fundraiser. I am very proud of Rolanda Smith.

    Good luck to all of the candidates that have stepped up.

    Special mention to Tom McCarthy. Thank you for you many years of service on the council and as Council President. The ability to communicate to 10 districts and make things happen is not an easy task. You will be missed by the Council and the many that were your critics. Your replacement will not be an easy task.

    Was a great meeting! Politics does make strange bedfellows.

  3. For those who were looking for change in Bridgeport, well, they didn’t find it last night at the Democratic Town Committee endorsement session at Testo’s Restaurant. Only the names have changed, even if there are some upsets nothing will really change. Mario Testa dictates, tells or strongly suggest to the DTC district leaders and most of the district leaders follow Mario’s direction with the candidates that are endorsed.

    Bridgeport with no real Republican Party helps to keep the Democratic Party and Mario Testa in power. If change is to come to Bridgeport it must start with the election in March 2018 for the 90 members of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee who in turn will vote for who the next chairman of the DTC and those 10 DTC district leaders. This is where REAL change will happen but………..

  4. Well, well, well it seems in the 139th longevity is the only prerequisite for endorsement to the city council. I’ve known James Holloway for almost 50 years and he’s like a play cousin to me, but he hasn’t done a damn thing for the East End in years. When does the endorsement go to the person that is committed to excellence, that is willing to do what’s best for the community and it’s residents, that puts the community ahead of the best interests of the DTC and who is committed to seriousness coupled with action? That isn’t James Holloway. James is a good democrat who walks lock and step with the party overlords to the detriment of the community he has sworn to represent.

    Dr. Ford you had it in your power to show the Democratic overlords that you love the community that you represent more than you love the party and yet again you dropped the ball. Dr. Ford why are you so scared of white people they don’t bite? The worst thing that can happen is that they’ll be mad at you because they aren’t doing shit for the community now, so how can they hurt you?

    1. Don, Dr. Ford has been the district leader in 139th district for over 25 years and what has he gotten for his district? What has Dr. Ford’s longevity, experience and power bought to the black voters in the East End?

      Don, you put it best when you said, ” Dr. Ford why are you so scared of white people they don’t bite? The worst thing that can happen is that they’ll be mad at you because they aren’t doing shit for the community now, so how can they hurt you?” How many times has Dr. Ford either nominated Mario Testa to be the chairman of the DTC or Dr. Ford has second the motion for Mario to be the chairman of the DTC and he would give a speech telling everybody why Mario Testa should be the leader of the DTC. What the hell is wrong with this picture? Mario can’t do a dam thing to Dr. Ford so what’s the problem? There are only two answers, either Dr. Ford is scare of Mario or he thinks Mario is doing a good job for his district and for Bridgeport.

  5. My Brother DON thank you i may have minor issues but i have always stood up for OUR People.Since i,ve been home i have fought against the power to be. When i felt our people needed to be heard against the injustices going on in Our City and Our Communities. I will never stop speaking TRUTH to POWER and GOD Almighty give me the strength to do it.

    1. Lets see 5 years in prison for voter or money problems then another 6 months for voter irregularities waiting for you. Not getting the nomination probably saved you a 3 rd jail term. Truth to power and god, Give me a break. Give you the strength to do what Ernie. Ernie go away in effect you have done nothing for the east side that Ralph Ford did not ant you to do.

        1. I live on the east side, close enough. I only want one person to read what I write and that is you. Time to move on Ernie let the young bloods run the show. Old guys like Holloway use as a door stop

          1. Andy things are happening in the Eastend beccause of People like me and you remember me on the city council in the 80s we need LEADERSHIP! BAD and i will never stop speaking truth to power!

          2. Ernie your present job is more helpful to people that need help. Being on the council as one of 18 dumbasses is a waste of your time and will put every move you make under a microscope. Yes I know there are 20 members on the council. Look at the 4 dumb asses running in my district led by a 100% malcontent

          3. Andy, you said, “Look at the 4 dumb asses running in my district led by a 100% malcontent,” well all 4 of those dumb asses in the 138th district were supported and recruited by Maria Pereira.

    2. Ernie, Was Donald Day suggesting you should have been endorsed?? I didn’t get that. I didn’t hear accolades to you and all you have done for the East End residents. Maybe he will clarify?

      BTW Ernie, I think your current position and what you are doing for the second chance community is outstanding. How can you possibly do all of that hard work for those people as well as serve on the council with the aspiration of being council President. Can you possibly be spred that thin and do a great job???

      Lets see you run and win- Joe runs for Gov. and wins and you become Mayor. Do you really imagine that?

  6. Erie where did you go? 🙂 Does anyone find it a little odd that Maria’ candidates beat Anthony and Nessah? An apology is in order OIB bloggers

  7. This is a dog-and-pony show. No one will be able to buck the machine politics of the Democratic Town Committee. The people of the city of Bridgeport have been neglected for the benefit of a few, one more time.

  8. 138th District 2 years ago on three separate occasions Anthony Paoletto and Nessah Smith were at my door telling me what they stand for and what their motives would be as an elected representative. Less than 2 months into their term they proved one thing THEY LIED. They broke every promise and fell to every stance they said they stood for. THEY ARE BOTH FRAUDS.

    Anthony Paoletto and Nessah Smith don’t have a chance for re-election. Especially because they have been in contact with the people in their district in almost two years. I can’t see them knocking on doors to apologist for lying two years ago.

    Maria Pereira keep up they great work you do for the people. Timothy Bassey and Michele Small I wish you all the best and great success.

  9. Tobin take your head out of your ass and tell me about the two marionettes selected by Mary. Where do they live ? How long have they been here (138th) what have the done for the district? Don’t worry I am not voting for any of the announced 4

  10. Andy its alot of great thing happening in the Eastend under my Leadership as VP of Our Eastend NRZ Opening up our Waterfront New Civic Block with Housing and Storefronts New Library ETC Do you thing if i had been on the City Council 20 Plus Years my Community would look like that!


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