For Pete’s Sake, Spain Not Seeking Reelection To City Council Seat

Pete Spain and Christina Smith both one and done.

Two years ago they formed a tandem of outsiders warring against the establishment, one from Yale, the other Princeton, now both Pete Spain and Christina Smith–who did not always get along–have decided the demand of one City Council term is enough, neither seeking reelection to seats in the 130th District covering Black Rock and a portion of the West End.

Months ago Smith announced she was one and done. Now Spain has done the same. Spain brought to the table an intimacy to council meetings, the good, bad and ugly, via his live Facebook posts, as well his outsider peer from the West Side Kyle Langan who’s seeking reelection. Spain, be it committee meetings or full council, brought us directly into the inner-workings of the legislative body.

He also occasionally took to the streets, his wife Kate often assisting behind the camera. One of the best was a gem from Spain who provided a demonstration in January 2018 about picking up dog poop in his district.

Spain demonstrates proper poop pickup.

Spain, supporting State Senator Marilyn Moore for mayor, often provided updates to his constituents about the demands of the work, for no pay, albeit a $9,000 stipend. Near the end of his latest update is this declaration, “Due to increasing demands at my work, I will not seek re-election for the City Council in 2019.”

I am grateful to our district for electing me to serve it on our City Council, from Dec 2017 through November this year.

I encourage people to run for the Council who can and will:

1. demonstrate active knowledge and love for our amazingly diverse, talented, and caring community, and who are friendly with all or most of their neighbors and community groups (if you’re a shy, shut-in type, this isn’t for you);

2. make more time to serve their constituents–especially the young, elderly, infirm, and marginalized–than to attend vanity press events and/or political social events (if you’re doing this for your ego or resume, this isn’t for you);

3. understand that the City Council role comes with no compensation (I welcome you to see what I’ve spent my stipend on to date online) and that this VOLUNTEER position is not intended for you to serve yourself, your family, or friends, but all of the some 15,000 people in our district (if you’re doing this for money or to further your career, this isn’t for you);

4. be responsive to constituents who seek reasonable assistance and/or answers to questions and help them connect with the city’s resources and processes (e.g. See, Click, Fix; speaking at Council meetings and/or Police Commission meetings with new perspectives and new ideas);

5. value the long-term benefits of investing in public education and in feeding grassroots community well being and engagement;

6. demonstrate independence from the old guard “Machine” Democrats and their widely reported corrupt practices, which include absentee ballot fraud, voter intimidation, and job placement for people unqualified and/or unsuited to the demands of a city job but, nonetheless, are awarded sinecures for being a loyal cog in this costly “Machine” (if you need this decades-old network of corruption to get into office or to get onto a board or commission, try another avenue for getting more involved in and serving your community);

7. have 25 hours or more a week, with rare exception, to give to this important and highly visible endeavor (if you can’t give the time, this isn’t for you);

8. visit and listen in all areas of this district and truly endeavor to make positive change for our district, its citizens, and also, when possible, for our city, region, and state;

9. continue to Facebook Live broadcast public meetings and regularly inform the public via social media and/or e-mail (hint: use your stipend to pay a capable intern);

10. study the Bridgeport Municipal Code of Ordinances and Charter and identify areas for updating and improvement (e.g. term limits; residential parking permits; demanding a City Historian now; fully staff the Ethics Commission now; enacting a Metro COG-led regional transit authority, infinity symbol…);

11. be humble but firm and persistent;

12. be aware enough to know do what you realistically can try to accomplish in two years;

13. feel free to call me to discuss.

Due to increasing demands at my work, I will not seek re-election for the City Council in 2019.

Hope you have a wonderful summer and I’ll see you around the neighborhood.



  1. “Say It Ain’t So Joe,” C’MON MAN, Pete I know you made a sacrifice to serve the voters and you did a great job, your newsletter was really needed and very informative something that no other council member has ever done. I always thought that the City Council was the wrong elected office for you because there is so much more talent that you have to serve the voters of Bridgeport. Pete you and Christina Smith were a great team and I thank you and Ms Smith for your time an service for all of us. Kate Spain, thank you for sharing your husband with us. Now let me be me, Pete your list is good but this City needs leadership now and action, you have seen the lack of direction, vision and leadership this City has and I hope that you are planning your next step to serve Bridgeport. The best to you and Christina.

  2. Good luck Christina and Peter. While I’ve never met Christina I have had the pleasure of meeting Peter and it’s a sad day for Bridgeport residents by his departure. Honesty, integrity and character on the Bridgeport Common Council just became less than. I guess not having an ulterior motive other than the common good of the people doesn’t go well with the duties of the council and makes it hard to serve.

  3. Yes, thank you for your service! I bet your departure has much to do with all the B S you both have witnessed up close.
    Hopefully more people like you with honesty and integrity will run in ALL districts…
    …..that being said… let’s see who the “party endorsed” candidates will be??!!!!

  4. I thank Pete for his hard work and his speaking out with intelligence and particularly his positions on advocating for not tearing down historic landmarks, the former Sanborn Library and Bassick, his opposition to Mario and his opposition to political influence of dropping a liquor store in Brooklawn backed by OPED legislation to increase liquor stores in Bridgeport!
    And for his being the only vote against the absurd and ridiculous calling out the ridiculous Pequonnock River Bike Trail through Noble Avenue and the Berkshire Bridge.
    Thanks Pete

  5. Pete, thank you for representing the interests of your 130 constituents as well as of those across the City on the large issues, so often ignored notice. Your listing of the practical activities necessary for “great representation” ought to be required reading for any and all. You have used your stipend creatively and listened to residents from all over your district as well as communicated in ways new to voters.
    I thank Christina as well for the financial questions she has raised that have gone unanswered for too long. Public service is a sacrifice to personal time including to your occupation. There are too few persons of independent means who can provide the time to truly serve without becoming a “part of the machine” that never announces its priorities other than when observed in “self-serving” behavior.
    Who cares for the youth? How will Ganim2 pivot on that issue? TIME WILL TELL.

  6. Good show Spain and Smith. Hopefully other intelligent and educated residents in the 130th will consider seeking a seat on the City Council. Pete Spain and Christine Smith proved an endorsement from Don Mario is not required, or necessary.

    1. Derek,
      Pete and Christina took a turn of running for office and they won. Don Mario did not let them win. They did those things necessary to defeat the opposition. Don Mario has no values that he announces to his “faithful” in public, before a City Council committee (where it is most likely that a co-chair will acknowledge him and allow him time to address them.) He is a master at putting his desires into the minds of his followers, as he operates out of sight and out of mind of those things that might appear on the platform of the multitude, were they consulted. The current activity of City Council members from outside the district with frequent visits to PTBarnum as well known political supporter Wanda Geter-Pataky and others is evidence of his activity. Do they see through Alumni Picnics that neither discuss nor improve the plight of tenants and cost dear dollars to fully participate in? Do they understand the value of an absentee ballot submitted, while never understanding that ABS are a restricted privilege, and not a service of canvassers who care about your personal circumstance or a vote beyond the TC candidate? Profound public ignorance can be overcome. Time will tell.

  7. Off topic, wake up Connecticut!
    In a little more than five years since becoming the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, Colorado says it’s gone past the $1 billion mark in marijuana tax revenue.

    The money that once fed illegal cartels now builds Colorado schools and health programs.

  8. This a big loss for all of us. Both Pete and Christina came with fresh perspectives and asked the tough questions and refused to be complicit with our government.

    That said, CC is a PT job in my opinion and until we create a salary for the 20 people making key decisions that impact our city we will continue to have incompetent council members, questionable tactics, and unable to keep professionals that can contribute like Pete and Christina.

    The quality of candidates would get distinctively better if it was a salaried position.

  9. Kelvin,
    Always respect your commentary as you think about things use real world common sense.
    Limiting my comments to CT, are there municipalities that pay their elected legislators? How many? How much? Who are they? Is it a salary that gets integrity and competence?
    I assume that it is well known that the $9,000 annual stipend was a compromise, back in the day, between a salary and nothing.
    A cut of the stipend to $3,000 annually would provide $120,000 for two full time staffers that could do the digging necessary to have the info ready when it comes to voting time. Of course if we had a bipartisan Finance Committee, many of the oversight duties would be handled by that group and not leave those critical matters to the folks from Middle School being “mentored” by the administration finance officials.
    What a $3,000 stipend would cause to stop are the “learning junkets” with registration, travel, hotel and meal expenses that serve as a personal reward for folks who might not otherwise travel. Such opportunities might be an effort of one or more area Universities with a more reasonable expense for the learning? And maybe taxpayers could also attend to see what has been missing for local governance for too long? Time will tell.

  10. JML
    Yes there are cities that pay their council members. Why are you asking Kelvin these questions. Why don’t you get the answers and then tell us.
    And the stipend started at I believe $500 not $3,000 but what’s an extra zero or two.

    1. Bob,
      Because you are often so busy to put others down, you cannot observe that conversations occur on OIB where everyone can learn something new. You are excellent on history, like the differences between an actual $500 stipend and a theoretical $3,000, but I also believe there was a year when the CC cut their stipend in half. What a concept. Time will tell.

      1. JML, when the implementation of a council stipend s tarted, many years ago, I remember it was somewhere in the amount of $250.00. I don’t remember how this came about, I’m talking decades ago. What I do remember is my then council partner, John Stafstrom, was not pleased with the concept; he felt, rightfully so, that as members of the body we had the ability to serve our constituentcies without tapping into taxpayer money. Since we almost always agreed, I’m sure I was with him on that. However, it was the decision of the entire council, and a comprise was met that brought it down from $250.00, again I don’t remember how much. Every council member who participated in using their stipend was mandated to submit a monthly, detailed report to the Finance Dept. or they would not be entitled to any more use of the fund. If it was determined by the person in charge of this that an expense was not council related, that amount was deducted from future stipend use. The amount changed as time went on, and in particular who the CC President was, and the makeup of the Council.. I rememeber a few abuses but, not many during my tenure. When it did happen, it was exposed by the media, and the reins were tightened. Somewhere along the way it has become the best kept secret, i.e. what process is in place to keep things honest and relevant. Maybe someone should ask????? There’s always the FOI route if resistence is detected.

        1. Took a look at some recent FOI scans of Stipend records.
          Illegal because: Ordinance calls for submission of signed form acknowledging relation of expense to CC work and that is not part of each current request by way of a prefunded debit card!!!!!
          Illegal because: some info in reports is redacted. What is personal about a stipend account that is to be used only for Council business expenses???Can you imagine?
          When things are kept in the dark (think of Trump emoluments, taxes, etc) they are there because it provides less info to the citizenry. Is that the purpose of public records and public service? Who provides oversight on these charges?
          How can a Council member regularly if not weekly show up at Citgo or Cumberland Farms and spend $40 or even $80? Fueling the car for activities other than Council duties is not legal.
          Why has Ken Flatto settled for such a system where the PAYMENT FROM THE CITY is called to come after request for reimbursement with signature and backup?? Does Ken understand the language and meaning of before and after? If the full explanation comes in first, oversight will take less time. Is it done at all? And what do those records look like? FBI should take a look at a system that is operating, but is off the tracks. Time will tell.

          1. JML, that’s a bunch of baloney! I’m reluctant to overtly critiize present council members because most of them are serving with no frame of reference, and none being offered. When Tom White’s position was taken from the budget, the council members then and now were, and are doomed. Tom not only had the professional credentials to inform and guide members, he had the unique advantage of having served as a City Council member, and I can vouch that he was one of the best. Shame on the Finance Dept. for not placing enough importance on this debachle to assign a member of that department to oversee stipend use, and demand accountability. Under Jerry Baron’s watch, this never happened nor would it ever.He was one of the best appointments Joey G. ever made.

  11. Kelvin
    IMHO I believe you would have to pay a minimum of $50,000 plus some support staff.
    You would have to cut back to 5 council districts. You would have to set minimum requirements, attendance and other duties which must be performed or else the council person would have to be removed from office and not allowed to serve for at least 3 years.
    That would be a start.

    1. Bob, thanks again for providing some added concepts in the form of “shoulds” and “woulds” but there is a matter of who provides oversight and has the power to remove from office said officeholders? Isn’t oversight a problem for which we have no credible response. Just spoke to the CC on the matter last Monday on the subject. Who will comment on the subject? Time will tell.

  12. Just a thought! While Pete may not be interested in another run for the council, who’s to say he won’t consider City Clerk or Town Clerk???????

    1. Lisa,great idea, especially the City Clerk position. The council position was just a starting point for Pete involvement with elective politics. Anyone who taken the time to talk to Pete and have a dialog with him knows that Pete has so much more to offer to the voters even if you don’t agree with a position of his on certain issues.

      Lisa, I hope that Pete and his lovely wife Kate reassess their position after getting a break from the City Council and make it know that he will seek another elected position because there are a lot of people who like him and will support him.

  13. Let me say a little something about Christina Smith, I’ve never met Ms Smith but in having a dialog with Pete for a number of years before he even ran for the city council I knew that if Christina ran with Pete that Christina had to be good candidate for the council and they would be a good team. Well they ran s a team and Christina Smith was the top vote getter than any other candidate running for the city council and Pete Spain and Christina Smith as a team got more votes together than any other district and the 130th district always comes out in large numbers. I wish Ms Smith the best Here is what Christina Smith bought to the table as a city council member.

    Bridgeport, Connecticut native who has lived in London, New York, and San Francisco among other places, Christina returned to Bridgeport with a passion not only for community development, but the desire to be part of making Bridgeport a place that people love to be!
    With a B.A. in Economics from Princeton and after having worked in the financial industry in a variety of roles, Christina says she pursued graduate studies “with the specific aim of returning to Bridgeport to make my hometown better and restore it to its former glory!” Christina now holds an M.A in Historical and Sustainable Architecture from New York University and an M.Sc. in Urban Regeneration from University College London, Bartlett School of Planning, where she focused on housing development.

  14. A little off-topic, but just wondering about the possible “aftermath” scenarios of the city elections this year. For instance, if Marilyn Moore were to win the mayoral race, who might be the likely candidates in the special election to replace her as Senator for the 22nd?…

  15. Lisa’s reference to the city council reducing its stipend by 50% is an action I have mentioned on OIB many times. The stipend, for an unknown period, had been $500 and required submission of receipts for council-related expenses. For the 1992 budget, the council adopted a budgeted reduction from $500 to $250 to demonstrate that the council members were recognizing the many cost-cutting measures being taken and to demonstrate that we were not immune from those measures.
    In 1999. an ordinance was adopted which formally recognized a stipend to reimburse council members for out-of-pocket expenses. Procedures were put in place by Finance, including reporting of taxable income which the City reported to the IRS via a 1099.
    Every year since then, mayors and city councils have budgeted $9,000 per council member.
    The only other city with a legislative body stipend is New Haven at $2,400 per alderman.
    About 10 years ago, Hartford changed their charter to reflect their 10 council members as part-time employees receiving a salary of $10,000 per year and reported to the IRS via W2.
    Now, although not reflected in the ordinance, Bridgeport City Council Members are issued loaded debit cards.
    For many years, back when the Connecticut Post did investigative reporting, city council stipend usage was shared with readers, often revealing misuse of taxpayer funds.
    Pete Spain is the only council member who has voluntarily shared a report of his stipend usage.


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