Primary Fever For Democratic Town Committee Seats–Does Mario Want Two More Years?

Mario Testa
Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa

You thought you had to wait until the summer for the next round of primary season action? Hey, the state’s largest city marinates in primaries and we’re just around the corner from winter primaries for Democratic Town Committee seats. Fire up the absentee ballots!

What are town committee members? They’re the party regulars who conduct party business, elect a chairman and endorse candidates for municipal office. The Democratic Party in Bridgeport has 10 districts with 9 members per for a total of 90 seats. As we turn the corner into 2014 each committee district will select their respective members, some of them the usual suspects who hold down municipal jobs. Those town committee members can be primaried in early March. Right after that an election will take place for town chair who like town committee members has a two-year term. The current occupant Mario Testa is in his second tenure as chairman. He had the job during the Joe Ganim mayoral years. Mario resigned in 2003 to take heat off John Fabrizi who had succeeded Ganim as mayor after Joe resigned following conviction on corruption charges. Mario regained the chairmanship in 2008. Does he want another term?

He certainly has been a much quieter party leader this time around where his Madison Avenue restaurant serves as the epicenter of city politics. It’s good for restaurant business. Mario still likes the political action, but he doesn’t have a close relationship with Bill Finch. He did with Ganim. Mario’s strength throughout the years has been fundraising, kicking party regulars in the butt to work on campaigns and working his serial absentee ballot voters. Bridgeport government is not the patronage machine it used to be. Just not as many jobs to go around. This can be challenging to keep the troops in line on behalf of party peace.

One name floating out there as a possible challenge to Mario’s chairmanship is former State Rep. Americo Santiago who’s been working Hispanic districts to build a coalition base. Americo also has his eye on the Democratic registrar’s position occupied by Sandi Ayala who’s up for reelection in 2014. In some circles Mario is the ultimate statesman compared to Americo’s manipulative political persona.

The party has all sorts of split ends heading into town committee selections.

Anti-establishment forces are feeling pretty good following the September 10 primary drubbing off all endorsed candidates for City Council and school board. Had Democratic insurgents realized the potential shellacking for a clean sweep across the city they would have run candidates in all council districts. Some of the operatives looking to challenge veteran committee members are Democrats who were aligned with the Connecticut Working Families Party that now has coalition control of the Board of Education. Meetings are already underway to map out potential challenges. Sometimes seats can be leveraged simply by the threat of a primary. Okay, if you don’t primary we’ll throw you a few seats.

There has been some banter from OIB posters such as former councilman Ralph Mojica (Mojo) about building coalitions to wage DTC challenges. So let the games begin.



  1. Lurking out there are far, far worse choices than Mario. The DTC elections next spring are the fight–as in THE fight. In contention are people who define fraud by their actions and then there is Mario who is about patronage. Mario looks pretty good next to fraud on the Port Jeff Ferry, Twin Towers and so on, skullduggery like directing people to the wrong polls or slander like suggesting people are racists and members of the KKK. Amazing given the Finch administration how good Mario can look!

    1. Baffled in Bridgeport, let me address the ugly part of your post. The suggesting people are racists and members of the KKK when it was done in the last two elections for mayor is outrageous. Calling Chris Caruso a racist and Mary-Jane Foster a member of the KKK is a DISGRACE. First, I supported Chris Caruso and Donald Day and myself invited Chris to attend our church, Mt. Aery Baptist Church, and we proudly sat with Chris at church and after church introduce him to church members. As for Mary-Jane, over the years she has attended Mt. Aery without any fanfare, she would come by herself for church service so often she was told by the pastor she didn’t have to stand with the visitors because she was not considered to be a visitor because of how often she attended. It was told to me by friends they heard those ugly statements made by blacks and by a few black pastors in church.

      As for Mario, he knows how to play the game with patronage.

      1. I as a minority never want to hear those three ugly letters and will refuse to believe those ugly rumors.
        That said, taking the devil’s advocate, if I heard those rumors and wanted votes, I’d sit in that church every week, too.

  2. Baffled, you are on point. Testa should definitely stay. I do think, however, the DTC group representation should experience overhauls across the City. There are many more malignancies in the groups, most of whom lurk as wolves in lamb suits.

    And then there is Martinez who is a shark in a wolf suit.

    The districts would do well to try to rid their DTC district representation of most of the sitting lame-duck council persons as well. I stress MOST of them, but not all. There are a couple who can be thoughtful assets.

  3. *** Whether you want change or not at this time, in the end there is no better chairperson than Mario. He can work with anybody or any group to find a way that’s beneficial to all involved. Dealing with 90 politically minded individuals on the city’s DTC must be tough. Everyone sooner or later wants something for nothing, if not for themselves then for someone else or their district. Say what you will but the man is good at what he does when dealing with DTC business! And if those who are seeking continued change really want to keep up the political pressure, then preparing a nine-member challenge slate for each district to run against the present local district town committees is a must. Start with a district meeting today and begin the process ’cause there’s not much time to prepare for this one due to the holidays and cold weather! *** MOVE YOUR DERBYS! ***

  4. Mario is the only choice.
    Let no one forget John Stafstrom put up the BOE chairwomen who helped the BOE state takeover and was the evil genius behind this BOE mess along with the mayor.

  5. “Sometimes seats can be leveraged simply by the threat of a primary. Okay, if you don’t primary we’ll throw you a few seats.”

    This is the first step I’ve taken in the past and will do it again one more time. I’m in district 130 for City Council and Town Committee. Lennie has defined OIB postings in regards to Democratic Town Committee challenges as “banter.” I prefer to describe my postings on this issue as a necessary call to action. It will take 90 straws to attempt to break the camel’s back. The DTC consists of 90 members (the old herd of camels). Rick Torres provided us with an insight of the kind of people the current Democratic Town Committees endorses–the kind who believe and have accepted they won’t be able to change anything.
    The challengers must start early in all ten districts. There are nine seats per district and in order to launch a challenge with a good opportunity to succeed, every person accepting to participate must fork up at least $200; put in the time and effort to campaign in potentially severe weather conditions, put together a strong message and appeal to the voters to come out to vote; have a strong AB operation and register new voters.

    I haven’t heard a peep from anyone interested in joining a slate, but I haven’t reached out to anyone other than by my prior OIB banter and small talk with some of the people involved in the past challenges. I’m going to proceed by reaching out to the current district leader (Danny Roach) and hear what he has to say.

    1. I think, more often than not, loose lips sinks ships. Although your willingness to post your intentions on this blog is commendable, not everyone operates in the same manner. In this City, the more advanced warning there is, the larger the number of housebound seniors, assisted-living seniors, disabled immobile folks, vacationers and folks who will be out of town, there seems to be. Funny little statistic about Bridgeport, right?

      1. That’s why one must start early. For your information, the district leaders have already been doing the work necessary in preparation. Do you think when the Machine’s AB operatives were out there getting the AB applications for the primary and elections, they only had the people sign one application for AB? Don’t be too sure and don’t doubt they have a few AB applications already signed. Is this legal? Has anyone checked to see if this is happening? Does anyone know how to check for tell-tale signs of this practice? The answer is NO.

        Let me tell you how this scam works. There used to be and probably still is some forgery of signatures on the AB applications. Here is the other clever way: Wait! I’ll show you the way if you want me to in person. Publishing it here will make it worse for us challengers, unless one does the same. Trust me when I tell you one time many years ago I was invited inside the home office of a well-known Bridgeport Political Activist. He had left a pile of AB applications on a desk and I saw they were signed and had the DOB. The rest of the forms were blank and there were no elections or primary scheduled any time soon. When I inquired, he didn’t give me an explanation and simply pulled the pile of AB applications from the tray and put them away. There is absolutely nothing the machine can learn by anyone stating their intent of participating in an election. Bond Girl if you are interested in seeing how this scam is pulled, I’ll be more than happy to give you a real demonstration. The AB system or process is flawed and should be banned.

  6. *** Love him or hate him in the political arena for change, he’s still the man! The man Dems, GOP or any other political party would want to be their party chair, no? ***


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