For The Love Of Politics–Primaries

Tom McCarthy St Pats
City Council President Tom McCarthy is this year’s St. Pat’s grand marshal.

You can spend all your time making love. You can spend all your love making time. In city politics, it cuts both ways. Break up, get back together. Break up, get back together. Break up, get back together. Sometimes, just like St. Valentine, it’s off with your head (politically speaking anyway). Is there a lot of love in city Democratic politics this Valentine’s Day? Depends. Political relationships are developing as we segue into this year’s City Council and Board of Education cycle.
A key area to watch is the East End where former City Councilman, state rep and state senator Ernie Newton is “seriously considering” a run for his old council seat in the 139th District. Every other year it’s been a rite of passage for the council’s longest-serving member James Holloway to declare he’s done, only to reverse himself for another two-year term. Holloway won his council seat in 1991, during the Joe Ganim 1 era, for what will be at least a 26-year run on the legislative body. It started with Ganim as mayor, then John Fabrizi, over to Bill Finch and now Ganim again.

Holloway council
What will James Holloway do?

For the most part Newton and Holloway have gotten along, but Newton has not lost his appetite for city politics despite losing a close State Senate primary battle to Andres Ayala in 2012, then a primary loss to Andre Baker for State House in 2014. A key broker in Newton’s resolve is East End District Leader Ralph Ford. Holloway wants to go out on his own, without being pushed. But could other candidates emerge? Eneida Martinez is the other council member representing the 139th District.

As a young city music teacher, Newton won a seat on the council in 1981, then was elected the first black City Council president prior to winning a seat in the state legislature.

All 20 seats for council and six school board positions are on the line. One big question is City Council President Tom McCarthy, this years St. Patrick’s Day grand marshal. Will he seek reelection to his North End council seat? If so, will he have a challenger?

School board member Maria Pereira, elected to a four-year term in 2015, is interviewing potential candidates in support of citywide school board seats and council candidates in her home turf in the Upper East Side 138th District where she serves as leader. She wants to take out the incumbent council members she supported in 2015, Anthony Paoletto and Nessah Smith, with whom she has had a falling-out. There’s not a lot of love there on either side of the fence.

Former State House member Bob Keeley is making noise about building coalitions to forge council primaries across the city. Will he?

In 2013, the last off-cycle municipal election, all endorsed Democrats for school board and council were thwarted in primaries. Looks like a number of primaries are on the horizon. Can’t ya feel the love?



    1. Ron Mackey, you are absolutely right on calling for primaries right across the board for all 20 City Council members. There are voices within Bridgeport who are not happy with the direction Mayor Joe Ganim and the City Council have taken with Bridgeport. The time is now for organizing and groups reaching out to one another. These City Council elections are a key test for these people who want to see a change in the direction of Bridgeport.

  1. Lennie, I know your stance on our Sanctuary City status; however the immigrant community in Bridgeport (I would say the largest immigrant community in Connecticut) is extremely disappointed with those who voted against Sanctuary City Status, and I wholeheartedly agree with our immigrant communities.

    2017 – 2019 will be a wake-up call for a lot of our elected officials. It’s a nice mirror to the dupery of DJT to the working class/working poor whites who voted to “Make America Great [Hate] Again.”

    I took the time to upload the current resolution, introduced by Councilman Casco and co-sponsored by Councilpersons Banta, Brantley, Bukovsky, Burns, Feliciano, Herron, McCarthy, Nieves and Olson.

    1. Gage, I’m not personally against a sanctuary city. I have, however, raised questions about what’s in it for a city like Bridgeport. What are the specific guidelines a city should/must follow? What are the trap doors? The latest resolution provides some information. Thanks for posting.

  2. I doubt the position a city council candidate takes on this ‘sanctuary city’ resolution will be a factor in elections. This election cycle without the mayor at the top of the ticket tends to have very low turnout.
    The resolution was not crafted by Bridgeport city council members. It is an off-the-shelf template the various groups opposed to enforcement of immigration laws are providing. Co-sponsoring the resolution requires no more than saying ‘Yeah, put my name on it,’ similar to endorsing bills in the state legislature.
    It will be interesting to see if the DTC takes a position on ‘sanctuary city’ pandering or simply ignores it.

    1. Again I agree. The litmus test will be the sitting members’ attention and involvement in this upcoming budget. For now taxes will not be an issue this budget cycle, however unnecessary appointees, this recent “bridge employee’s expense” what it will cost going forward, even beyond this administration, pensions, overtime, lack of economic development, safety issues, these are all matters that should be of interest to the respective members representing their districts. I’ve witnessed not one council person holding Ganim’s feet to the fire for his lack of action to fill expired terms on Boards and Commissions. There are necessary Boards and commissions that can’t address business because of a lack of a quorum. There’s a lot of fodder for the press, if they choose to address these issues, and if they don’t, it will be the responsibility of the challengers to arm themselves with the voting records of the incumbents.

  3. National League of Cities

    An attempt to shift the federal responsibility of enforcing federal immigration laws to local governments is an unfunded mandate that diverts critical resources from local government programs.
    This post was co-authored by Yucel Ors and Aileen Carr.

    On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the Executive Order on Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. This order would direct the federal government to strip federal grant money from sanctuary cities, which are cities deemed by the Trump Administration to willfully violate federal law by shielding aliens from removal. “The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
    The full text of the executive order is available here. The relevant section of the executive order states:
    “It is the policy of the executive branch to ensure, to the fullest extent of the law, that a State, or a political subdivision of a State, shall comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373. In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.”
    In response to the executive order, the National League of Cities (NLC) released the following statement:
    “There appears to be a false assumption that ‘sanctuary cities’ prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from enforcing immigration laws. This could not be further from the truth. In practice, federal programs intended to partner with cities and towns on immigration enforcement are broken. The reality is that, in cities across the nation, police departments are routinely cooperating with ICE’s immigration enforcement efforts, while at the same time building constructive relationships with their communities to improve public safety. The order signed by President Trump does not clearly define sanctuary jurisdictions, so it is difficult to foresee how and which cities will be impacted by the order. Legislative efforts in 2016 to define and penalize sanctuary cities were defeated in Congress, which could have cost cities up to $137 million or more in COPS hiring grants. We call on President Trump to open a dialogue with city leaders, and work with local governments to enact real, comprehensive immigration reform that respects the principles of local control.”
    NLC’s long-standing position is that measures requiring cities to use local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws are unfunded mandates that impose additional disproportionate responsibilities on local law enforcement, increase financial liability on local governments, and ultimately move us further from our foundational principles of federalism. Contrary to the president’s stated public safety goals, this action is likely to jeopardize the effectiveness of many local law enforcement efforts. Many police chiefs, mayors, and city councilmembers across the country are concerned that such policies impede efforts to preserve police-community relations and ensure that residents feel safe reporting crimes and accessing government services.
    “One thing I am sure of is that Nashville is stronger and safer when we are a warm and welcoming place for all. While we cannot control border policies here in Nashville, we can pull together as a city by embracing the immigrants and refugees who are an integral part of our community.”
    -Nashville, Tennessee, Mayor Megan Berry
    “We value the members of our community here and we’re willing to, at some point, sacrifice money to make sure community members feel safe.”
    -Beaverton, Oregon, Mayor Lacey Beaty
    “Santa Fe is a city that has practiced as part of its values nondiscrimination … We do believe that every person deserves respect and dignity when they’re living in our community peacefully, when they’re contributing. And the issue of law enforcement resources needs to go towards community policing. And so the last thing that we are going to do is serve as an extension of the federal immigration services and begin to issue, through administrative warrants, detention orders.”
    -Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mayor Javier Gonzalez
    “For more than 150 years, Portland has been a destination for those wanting to apply their hard work to the purpose of creating a better life for themselves and their families. My own family made the trek on the Oregon Trail. We are a city built on immigration. We are not going to run from that history. We will not be complicit in the deportation of our neighbors. Under my leadership as Mayor, the city of Portland will remain a welcoming, safe place for all people regardless of immigration status. This approach is consistent with the Oregon state law and the 4th and 10th Amendments of the United States Constitution. We will not compromise our values as a city or as Americans, and we will resist these policies.”
    -Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler
    President Trump’s latest executive order is not the first federal measure in this arena–in recent years, Congress has also introduced bills that would cut federal funding to cities they deem to be sanctuary jurisdictions. The most recent bills targeted COPS and CDBG funds, but NLC was successful in efforts to defeat all of them.
    Since there is no statutory definition of “sanctuary” cities or policies, and the nature of collaboration between federal and local law enforcement on immigration has evolved significantly over the last decade, there is often much confusion about this issue. Here are the facts:
    For many years now, ICE agents have routinely worked in all cities, whether or not they have policies that limit the voluntary role cities play in federal immigration enforcement. No city or local government official provides safe harbor to an immigrant who breaks local and state laws.
    ICE agents have full authority to take people into custody from any jurisdiction as long as they have evidence that the individual violated federal immigration laws. While cities voluntarily cooperate with ICE in all sorts of immigration enforcement efforts, they are not obligated to be a surrogate agency to ICE.
    Cities are not permitted to have polices that may interfere with or restrict federal law enforcement from enforcing immigration laws.
    Title 8 of U.S. Code Section 1373 also prohibits cities from restricting local law enforcement from cooperating or exchanging information with federal immigration authorities on any reasonable suspicions they have regarding persons already in their custody.
    As long as cities are in compliance with Section 1373, the federal government should not be able to withhold funding that has been statutorily authorized and appropriated.
    Federal agencies may require cities to demonstrate that their policies are in compliance with Section 1373 when they apply for grants and federal assistance. Cities that are not in compliance may need to change their policies prior to receiving federal assistance.
    The Department of Justice has issued guidance on what cities need to do to comply with section 1373. City leaders can access that resource here.
    The short-sighted executive order issued by the President neglects to recognize that is it the sole responsibility of the federal government to prosecute and deport criminals who violate federal immigration laws. At a time when local governments are working to strengthen police-community relations, build trust, advance initiatives to increase economic mobility, and live out their values of inclusion and equity, executive orders and legislative proposals to withhold funding from cities are particularly troubling and counterproductive. An attempt to shift the federal responsibility of enforcing federal immigration laws to local governments is an unfunded mandate that diverts critical resources from local government programs, compromises public safety, and hinders local efforts to work with immigrant communities.
    Instead of trying to coerce cities and towns to enforce the broken immigration laws of the United States, President Trump should work with local governments to find a solution that respects the principles of local control, effectively enforces current immigration law, and creates a process whereby undocumented immigrants currently living in our cities may earn legalized status through payment of appropriate fees and back taxes, background checks, consistent work history, and appropriate civics requirements.
    About the authors:
    Yucel (“u-jel”) Ors is the Program Director of Public Safety and Crime Prevention at the National League of Cities. Follow Yucel on Twitter at @nlcpscp.
    Aileen Carr 

  4. With all due respect to OIB posters, we’ve had plenty of discussion considering Sanctuary status. This post concerns the City Council Primaries and Elections this year. IMHO, the primaries and City Council Election are more important than continuing the sanctuary discussion ad infinitum. Please, if we can get back to The City Council.

  5. I suspect this information has been discussed before, but might someone remind us of key dates on the election calendar leading up to the primary and general elections? If the reply might also include key dates on the DTC calendar, that would be all the better.
    Because we are discussing the sanctuary city matter as well on this thread, I’d like to point to a fact-filled, map-filled, and chart-filled article on the Connecticut Mirror published a few days ago by Andrew Ba Tran. He is data editor for the Mirror.

    Mr. Ba Tran’s earlier article on immigrants to Connecticut, published in November, is also relevant. Despite the title, the article discusses immigrants from a number of countries, even though the article and headline focus the most on Syrians.

  6. I have a history question. I’d love to know the answer.

    How is it that Bridgeport’s city council districts are designated with three-digit numbers? Why don’t we have districts One through Ten? Or districts A through J?

    The council district numbers remind me of state house districts. Was there a time when City Council seats and House seats has coterminous boundaries, of which this numbering system might be a legacy?

    Are council districts in other Nutmeg cities similarly numbered?

    Why have the districts kept this rather odd numbering convention?

    Another thought: Is the numbering left over from some earlier division of Bridgeport prior to its charter as a city–sort of like RTM districts of yore? I rather doubt it, but the town in Massachusetts I used to live in had 252 members of its RTM, so it’s not hard to imagine such an arrangement in pre-city Bridgeport. But I doubt it actually happened this way.

    Thanks for the answer!

    1. Okay Doug, you’re on to something. Bridgeport’s City Council districts (formerly known as Common Council) long ago (as a matter of convenience by city fathers) picked up from Connecticut’s State House districts ending in Bridgeport at “130.” State Assembly districts in Bridgeport run 124, (125 a suburban district), 126-130. City Council districts run from 130-139. So there ya go, courtesy of my garbage can for a mind. FYI, the Common Council became the City Council after city voters collapsed the Board of Apportionment and Taxation to give the legislative body budget authority about 30 years ago. Paging Phil Smith who served as director of several charter reform movements.

  7. Charter Revision of 1988 included elimination of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation, along with the Mayor’s Financial Advisory Committee and gave those duties to the City Council.
    The Common Council became the City Council in charter revision of 1992. Aldermen became City Council Members.


Leave a Reply