East End Town Committee Challenge Slate Fails To Qualify, North End Battle Ramps Up

The East End Democratic Town Committee challenge slate that was seeking to unseat veteran political operatives failed to secure sufficient signatures to qualify for the March 6th primary, according to local elections officials. That means incumbent committee members such as Ralph Ford, Ernie Newton and Eneida Martinez will continue to control things in the 139th District.

Slates must secure certified signatures from five percent of registered Democrats in respective districts to wage a primary. Wanda Simmons, aligned with the Connecticut Working Families Party and former district committee member Debbie Sims were among signature hunters.

When petitioners fall short, generally it’s because sheets handed into the Registrar’s Office included unaffiliated voters or those not registered. This is a surprise because Simmons and Sims are veterans of East End campaigns. Simmons, for one, came up a little shy of winning a district City Council primary last September.

Joining Ford, Newton and Martinez on the committee are Charlie Coviello, Clem Young, Elizabeth Ann Barnes, Maurice Barnes, Keith Williams and Barbara Pouchet.

Elections officials are still reviewing petition sheets to qualify slates in other districts.

One district to watch because of implications involving a third City Council primary in the 133rd District is the town committee battle involving the four council candidates who’ll face off for legislative seats April 10, Michael DeFilippo and Jeanette Herron and former State Rep. Bob Keeley and zoning commissioner Anne Pappas Phillips.

DeFilippo and Herron are running with long-time District Leader Tom McCarthy, former City Council president. All are incumbent committee members.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ordered a third Democratic primary for City Council in the North End district based on absentee ballot irregularities. Her ruling was appealed and upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

So the four council candidates will immediately segue from a town committee battle to another district primary for two City Council seats. The four have been campaigning for council seats since last summer.

Bridgeport’s 90-strong Democratic Town Committee has 9 slots per 10 districts. They are the party regulars who conduct business, endorse candidate for public office and select officers.

Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa must pay close attention to the races because he’d like another two-year term when officers are selected shortly after the March 6 primaries.



  1. Now let’s see if Ralph Ford, Ernie Newton, Eneida Martinez, Charlie Coviello, Clem Young, Elizabeth Ann Barnes, Maurice Barnes, Keith Williams and Barbara Pouchet all endorse, support and vote for Mario Testa for the Democratic Town Chair Mario, my best guess is that they all will vote for Mario Testa.

  2. RON

  3. Frist of all We Don’t know who’s running for DTC-Chair. WE Have ELECTIONS IN March. ITS early so let’s see who comes forth. Two years ago someone just put up a Name that person did not reach out to anyone but his district. Let’s see what happens in the coming DTC Elections
    Thanks RON>

    1. Ernie, with the majority of the 90 member DTC being black and Hispanic it’s time to seek a candidate to become the Chairman of the DTC, plus that person doesn’t have to be a member of the DTC. The hell with waiting, go out and draft a candidate to lead the DTC.

    2. I’m with Mr. Mackey on this one, Moses. He wasn’t soeaking for you but wondering loud if you’re going to be compromised by Mario Testa. You were ekected to represent the folks in the district and the best interests of the people of the city of Bridgeport. We’ve seem too many seek public office with the best of intentions only to be corrupted by the machine politics of Mario Testa and the DTC.

    3. Moses,

      We already know Mario Testa wants another two-year hitch as DTC chair. He wants to shepherd Little Joe’s gubernatorial campaign. As if a convicted felon has a chance…

  4. Derek, I would think that question can be asked of every Puerto Rican and white person on the DTC, who’s your loyalty to, your constituents or Mario? That’s not a question that’s mutually exclusive to Ernie.

    1. It was an ethniclly neutral question, Donald. There are Africn-Americans, Latinos, Caucasians on the Committee. All are suseptible to pressure and manipulation.

  5. *** All the town committee leaders will go with whom ever agrees to some of their needs & wants; nothing new! What will you do for us; and gender,ethic background or race,does not matter. Plus at times some of the T.C members or city council members don’t even live in the districts their representing? Its nothing new, same old shit just a different year. Lets see how much money the Bpt. 90 members T.C can come up with since their budget is real low? Donations from the party members maybe? Most of the real party money makers & donors are gone, moved on and if not for the Trump/GOP national debacles, the Dem. Party would be in political turmoil.***

    1. Mojo, sad but true, those district leaders who don’t ask and demand things for their district then they get nothing because Mario knows how to deal without them. Mojo, you said, “your gender, ethic background or race does not matter,” unfortunately that’s true.

  6. Mojo, your statement is inaccurate when it comes to the 138th District. Six of us stayed true to our campaign promises and have never been beholden to Mario Testa.

    Two of those that broke EVERY campaign promise are running on the challenge slate. They are absolutely beholden to Mario Testa.


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