Halstead Hopes For A West Side Garden Party, Challengers For City Council Incumbents

Bob Halstead
Bob Halstead

West Side City Council incumbents Evette Brantley and John Olson face a Democratic primary challenge in September from Bob Halstead and Trish Swain as all 20 seats on the city’s all-Democratic legislative body come before voters in November. Five Board of Education seats are also up for grabs in November. Mayor Bill Finch, who has a four-year term, faces reelection in 2015.

“Things won’t change in Bridgeport unless new people run,” says Halstead who knows city neighborhoods as well as anyone as founder of the city’s community gardens program instrumental in transforming vacant eyesores into community pride points.

“I think it’s important that we change the leadership in this city or things will not change,” says Halstead. “I hope a lot of other people run. I think its different this time around. A lot more activism, anger and interest. People need more confidence and realize a lot of us can do a better job than who is in there right now.”

Halstead no longer serves as director of community gardens, a victim, he says, of retribution for supporting Mayor Bill Finch’s mayoral opponents. Halstead and the mayor go way back, even rooming together in the South End during their days at Neighborhood Housing Services in 1979 when Finch was coordinator for a new South End NHS and Halstead served as housing rehabilitation specialist for the East Side Neighborhood Housing Services. The mayor and Halstead are no longer buds. Halstead has been a vocal critic of the Democratic Party establishment in the city led by Town Chair Mario Testa.

For 24 years Halstead served the city as a housing director, property disposition manager and city planner. He has a  master’s degree in city and regional planning from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.

Brantley and Olson represent the 132nd District that includes the Central and Bassick voting precincts. It’s the territory of former council members Bob “Troll” Walsh and Lisa “Honey” Parziale, both of whom are still engaged in district issues. The 132nd District is one of the city’s melting pots of working class in the southern portion of the district and higher assessed homes in the Brooklawn neighborhood, one of the highest voting areas of the city.

Brantley vowed in April she would not vote for a budget that includes a tax increase. In fact, she said, she’d put her house up for sale and roll out if the council passes a tax hike. The council passed a modest tax hike, but Evette has not yet placed a for sale sign on her lawn. Neither Brantley nor Olson are city employees, a point of contention of City Council critics opposed to municipal workers serving on the legislative and budget-making body.

Olson has emerged as a leading council critic of the $400,000 taxpayer-paid driveway for Bridgeport-based developer Manny Moutinho’s Stratford mansion as part of an airport safety project.

Still, Halstead maintains, that fresh blood and a fresh perspective are required to remove the council’s rubber stamping of Finch administration initiatives.

OIB has reached out to Trish Swain for her background and statement.

The 90-member Democratic Town Committee will endorse candidates for school board seats July 22nd, 5:30 p.m. at Testo’s Restaurant.



  1. Good luck, Bob Halstead. Your entire working career has been revolved around the City of Bridgeport. You are committed to the improvement of our city. I wish you well. You need to start knocking on doors now. You know it is an upward climb. The good news is you are qualified, competent and deserve it.

  2. “Neither Brantley nor Olson are city employees, a point of contention of City Council critics opposed to municipal workers serving on the legislative and budget-making body.”

    “Olson has emerged as a leading council critic of the $400,000 taxpayer-paid driveway for Bridgeport-based developer Manny Moutinho’s Stratford mansion as part of an airport safety project.”

    Lennie, your point has a gap as big as the one in yahooy’s brain. Neither Brantley nor Olson came out in support of Hennessy’s bill intended to flush out city employees on the City Council. Not only don’t they see a problem with this, they both voted for a City Employee (McCarthy) for City Council President. The council President is the one who MUST make sure its elected members are provided with all information necessary to do their job properly and maintain the independence of the council. If I had to drop one of these two, I’d drop Brantley like a hot potato (Is Dan Quale a regular OIB reader? If so, please check my spelling) and keep Olson. Olson voted against the 53-85 Seaview Avenue deal and has been more vocal than Brantley while she just sat next to him ready to vote yes. I’m sure had Olson stated he would move if the taxes were raised, the for sale sign would be on the lawn. Where are the other 16 challengers?

      1. Indeed Lennie, but the grandfather provision had hardly any teeth. In order to get fast results from that provision the council person would had to have resigned; not run again; voted out of office; or die while holding office.

  3. “While a full revaluation could take 18 months, this will be a statistical revaluation that depends on sales data instead of field visits, she said. Her assessors do that work every day.”

    I’d like OIBers to read this latest article from Keila Torres of the CT Post. If you read carefully, especially the quote above, you would do a Jonathan Pelto and say “Wait, what?”
    Had I been a City Councilmen and someone was to make such a statement, I would have them repeat the statement. I would then ask the person this:
    If your assessors “do that every day,” why isn’t it done already and why do we need to contract a company to do it? Can you believe the only thing the Budget and Appropriations Committee could find wrong is a “typo?”
    www .ctpost.com/local/article/Typo-questions-delay-revaluation-action-4655304.php

    1. Since OIB and OIBers tend to depend on the CT Post for news and information even if there is something wrong with the article, I needed to clarify something that didn’t quite sound right with this Keila Torres article. There is only one Tax Assessor in the City of Bridgeport. “Her assessors do that work every day.”

      Keila mistakenly understood the tax assessor used the term “assessor,” when she should have written appraisers. There are three appraisers and one Tax Assessor. The point made and the context in regard to this part of the discussion was related to permits checked on by the three appraisers from the tax collector’s dept. This happens when one is trying to beat the printing press deadline of the CT Post. Maybe it was just a “typo” from Keila.

  4. Good Luck to Bob! Primary in the 132nd, how fun!

    I don’t know Trish, but I am inclined to agree with Loej Zelaznog. Olson is thoughtful and honestly seems to make his decisions based on the greater good. I know he voted in favor of the tax increase, but he is far from a rubber stamp Finch supporter.

    Evette is a nice person and all, but needs to understand the true meaning of integrity is actions and words are aligned. We noticed Evette.

  5. Let’s not forget Evette Brantley’s disgusting behavior at a Common Council meeting a couple years back in the throw-down with Cecil Young. We have yet to see the final results of Cecil’s lawsuit and $$$ damages.

  6. Bob is a good guy. A class act and not afraid to speak his mind. He has done a great job recently with the gardens, really loves the city and will do a fantastic job on the City Council. This is what local activism is about.

  7. Bob. Good luck. Steve says it all, you have all the skills needed to complete the job. I watched from down the hall as Finch ran over you and forgot where he came from. Best wishes.


    BRIDGEPORT — Police are investigating an incident in which a Stratford woman was shot in the leg late Tuesday.
    The 22-year-old woman told police she was carjacked, forced to drive around and then brought into Beardsley Park, where she was assaulted by two males, according to William Kaempffer, police spokesman.
    The victim told police that she was at a gas station on Huntington Turnpike, at about 10:45 p.m. when two black males approached her. One got into the back seat of her vehicle, put a gun to her head and ordered her to drive, she stated. They ended up at Beverly Place near East Main Street.
    The second suspect then also appeared on Beverly Place. It remains unclear how he got there because he wasn’t in her car and she didn’t see a vehicle following them, the victim told police.
    The two men forced her to walk on Beverly into Beardsley Park where they allegedly attempted to sexually assault her, she stated. She resisted and she was assaulted and shot, she said.
    A passerby saw her emerge from the park and contacted authorities. She was taken to St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Her injury was not life threatening.

    An extensive, hours-long search for the suspects was conducted in the park with the assistance of the State Police and neighboring police departments.

    The victim reportedly had been hit in the head with a blunt object, according to police radio dispatches.

  9. SAD. YOU ARE SHOWING THIS TO ME BECAUSE YOU THINK I AM UNAWARE OF THE CRUELTY IN THE WORLD? Because criminals like to import their victims to Bridgeport? Because the back seat of the car wouldn’t do? Because you were trying to inject some lighthearted banter? Andy … of course I am aware of terrible things happening. IT IS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE. IT IS A VERY SAD COMMENTARY. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? Glad to see you are still on the blog.

    1. Steve, in previous exchanges you kept referring to the closeness of the mayor’s home, the two restaurants and the park. I had been trying to point out the rise in crime up here, which you ignored. This latest diatribe by you really makes no sense, who the hell was referring to world cruelty? There was a time this was basically a crime-free area, not now.

      1. Andy, you are right. I know you only give the facts. I was not disputing your previous commentary. Nor am I diminishing the horrific act that took place last night. I know you and Barney care deeply about the neighborhood as do I. That’s where I go to spar with my Republican friends. I suggested before as I will again. Get the Mayor to hold a neighborhood meeting with Gaudett, Paoletto and Marella. I would love to attend and lend support. This most definitely definitely a serious issue and the neighborhood needs to get it together. Let me know. Seriously Andy, this is beyond political parties and personal grudges. How can I help you?

  10. Marc Delmonico and Joe Larcheveque,
    I am sure I am speaking for many on this blog when I commend the GOP Republican party for making it a criminal offense for Christian and Jewish clergy as well as any religious clergy who perform same sex marriages. That would be up to 180 days in jail for a Rabbi and priest who attempt to bless such unions. In the state of Indiana … only in America … And Rick Perry … Texas and woman’s personal rights … OMG. The Democrats have to be loving this. This is what the GOP is focusing on. It is so sad. I WOULD HATE TO BE A WOMAN IN NEED AND BE JUDGED BY RELIGIOUS FREAKS. AS FOR INDIANA, I CANNOT HELP BUT BELIEVE THE LAW PASSED WILL BITE THEM IN THE ASS.

    1. Fluckarella, that is tongue and cheek … Obviously I am pointing out how ridiculous, out of touch and creepy the GOP has become and yes I expect Local GOP to express outrage. Save themselves from … Themselves.

    2. Steve, I am from Indiana, still have family there–more conservative than CT for sure, however your take on the same-sex article is addressed here.
      www .christianpost.com/news/gay-marriage-criminal-in-indiana-claim-same-sex-marriage-advocates-law-being-misinterpreted-99823/
      My hope is Indiana will step into this century with regard to throwing off their provincial and Puritan thinking with regard to social agendas. Most people I know back home again really do support the rights of all people–it is the goddamned politicians (just as it is here) who make it impossible for the voice of reason to prevail. Marc Delmonico is pretty great–he did offer to snag a hot cookie for you, did he not?

        1. Set the time and day and I am sure he will, I will even get you some hot coffee–usually the Democrats rob the bank and the Republicans drive the getaway car–this time the tables will be turned!

  11. Steven,
    First of all, you do not know me or my views on some of these issues. But I will say I am a conservative in many regards both fiscal and social, but I do believe in certain freedoms. But your parents chose life; therefore you now have the ability to post on this blog, I guess some unborn just aren’t as lucky as you.
    I would like to know where you heard that about the GOP and jail time for the clergy. I am sure you read that on some liberal rag. But did you hear today your Dude Obama is trying to get the IRS another billion dollars in funding. But it does look like Obamacare is stumbling through no fault of the GOP. Obviously, Nancy should have read the bill before she passed it, I am sure she was smart enough to realize it was flawed (yeah right).

    1. Marc, you asked a question regarding the clergy. It is in all the papers in Indiana as well as Fox and MSBBC. I am happy my mother chose life but like most people I am not interested in your opinion on abortion issues. That is between a woman her husband, boyfriend and her G-d. PERSONALLY Marc I would never ever ever choose abortion. But for as long as I remember I have never ever ever thought it was any of my business what a woman does with her body. You are not going to heaven any quicker for your beliefs. Most people people these days are not interested in the conservatives because for some reason you believe G-d is on your side and homosexuality is a Democratic disease. The facts I stated about Indiana are factual, as well as Texas. The GOP would be best served staying out of people’s bedrooms. It is definitely a losing battle.

    2. Btw Marc, on a side note. I am assuming you are a member of the Republican party. In Bridgeport? I ask because if you guys have candidates running in the 138th they may want to be part of the dialogue regarding the crime they are experiencing. Andy Fardy may be trying to coordinate. This could be an opportunity for you guys.

      Marc, please do not take any of my ranting too personal. At 4 pm I will be the only Democrat amongst six blue color Republicans. I can hold my own. I have heard some very nice things about you. Within your ranks. Doesn’t mean you are going to win an argument, it does mean I am familiar with many who know you personally, and for a Republican–you are a shining star. Btw Marc, did I meet you in front of Winthrop school during the Foster, Finch Torres Sept. November elections? I think I had a business card from you. Is that possible?

      1. Steven,
        Thank you for the kind words. If I were a Democrat I would be a bit misty right now. On this blog we are engaged in debate, and with most on here, we meet at Lennie’s parties, laugh and shake hands. It is just spirited debate, exchange of ideas, and try for a few laughs now and then. So believe me, I take no offense to anything said. I heard many good things about you also, you are a good guy who wants this city to move forward (you can get misty because you voted for Obama). I think I did give you my business card, just please do not give it to BlackRockGuy.
        As far as the Republican party is concerned, they are doing some things that make me insane. But with that being said, most of the things the Democratic Party does makes me want to jump off a bridge. I guarantee you we are in close agreement on several issues. We will save our National Issue Debate for a discussion over coffee or a stolen cookie (in honor of Ron Mackey). However, I need to correct your view I will not win the argument … I will. Anyway, time to take on the city … let’s rally the troops and storm the gate.

  12. Bob Halstead has served Bridgeport as a concerned community activist for many years. The CW4BB looks forward to considering supporting Bob and other announced candidates later this month based on the criteria we have published. This should prove to be an interesting election cycle and it’s just the beginning of a multi-year effort to build a better Bridgeport and CT.


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