Rolling Out The Goods For The City Council Election In The Rock

Black Rock addition
Rendering of Black Rock School addition.

The City Council battle in Black Rock’s in high gear between Republican challengers Rick Torres and Phil Blagys and Democratic incumbents Sue Brannelly and Steve Stafstrom. Following last week’s Tuesday night massacre of endorsed candidates and several incumbents on the City Council in the Democratic primary that shook the political establishment, Brannelly and Stafstrom will be kicking out every piece of good news possible in the highest voting district in the city where electors tend to be choosy.

In a few weeks Mayor Bill Finch and Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas are scheduled to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new 18,000-square-foot addition to Black Rock School that includes 10 new classrooms, a multipurpose room that can serve as a gymnasium and assembly space, elevator access to all floors to make it ADA compliant, two new playground structures and a new entrance area on School Street, according to a news release.

The addition was designed by Newman Associates of New Haven and Bismark Construction is the construction manager. The addition will cost $8.8 million, with the state paying 80 percent, according to city officials. State Rep. Auden Grogins helped to secure the state funds.

Stafstrom, Blagys
Steve Stafstrom, left, and Phil Blagys, general election opponents, yuk it up in front of Black Rock School on primary day last week.

Brannelly and Stafstrom, as the neighborhood representatives on the council, will remind voters in The Rock of their efforts.

“I am thrilled that our persistence has brought this project to fruition,” Brannelly is quoted in the news release. “The parents at Black Rock School worked tirelessly with the city to be certain this project maintained its place as a top priority. Our goal is to keep young families in our city with high quality schools to educate their children. This project will help us all considerably to reach that goal.”

And Stafstrom adds, “This addition will make Black Rock School a top-notch neighborhood school facility, providing students with a cohesive learning environment until they are ready to move on to high school and further increasing the desirability of the neighborhood. Susan and I want to thank the Mayor and our Council colleagues for their support in keeping this project on track, and State Rep. Auden Grogins for her support in ensuring the receipt of state funding for the project.”

When you’re incumbents you trot out as much good news as possible, especially in an environment of cranky voters. Torres and Blagys, no doubt, will do their best to frame how a change in government representation is necessary to move the neighborhood forward in the area of taxes and services.

Political operatives and active neighborhoods residents expect this race to be highly competitive. Torres and Blagys should perform well at Black Rock School that has the highest percentage of Republican voters in the city as well as engaged unaffiliated voters and independent-minded Democrats. Brannelly and Stafstrom will likely do well at the district’s other precinct, the Aquaculture School that features more Democrats. Bridgeport’s 130th City Council District has more than 6,000 voters. In the next seven weeks thousands of them will be hearing from all four candidates, be it phone calls, door knocks or mail pieces. And Torres and Blagys campaigning on a bicycle built for two.

Although Torres and Blagys and Brannelly and Stafstrom are running together respectively, the two top vote producers will be elected to the council. So it’s possible one candidate from each party could serve the district together. Could there be a lot of vote splitting at Black Rock School?



    1. Politicians do send their children to Black Rock school. I believe the Mayor sends his children there. I guess the schools in the 138th district are beneath Finch’s standards of excellence.

    2. Mayor Finch has always sent his children to Bridgeport Public Schools. If he has moved them from Winthrop to Black Rock to Read school it’s most likely for their protection FROM disgruntled mean-spirited OIB readers. 🙂

  1. My two Council persons voted to approve a 2013-14 City budget that includes the Board of Education budget, and failed to note the City failed to include the ‘minimum budget requirement’ though notice from the State had been received by the City weeks before. What is happening with that $3.3 Million gap? The State has consequences when cities fail in their responsibility.

    How can this have happened? Since budget approval in May, why is the City Council ignoring this issue? The Budget and Appropriations committee lost two current members (DePara and Silva) including one co-chair with the primary results. The other co-chair is Sue Brannelly, who stepped up to the responsibility when Bob Curwen left the post a year ago.

    The School Building Committee is performing systematic, informative monitoring and reporting monthly on each project, including Black Rock School (as well as Longfellow School, the other neighborhood school). If Budget and Appropriations were doing a similar job of monitoring City financial issues, we could rest much easier, ask fewer questions and see that our taxes were less burdensome and our home values increasing more. Time will tell.

  2. We have to spend money on education. We have to spend a lot of money if the future of our city is to be secure. But we must spend that money wisely. We must get the best bang for our buck through competitive bidding processes that ensure we are engaging the most qualified at the least possible expense. I am not comfortable with the actual people who are managing these highly lucrative BOE contracts. I’ll bet some really good contractors are passing on opportunities in Bridgeport because they would have to put up with Calamarian influences.

    1. yahooy,
      “But we must spend money wisely.”
      I am in total agreement with you. That is a reason for delving into City finances for years. The Education operating budget is heavy with personnel expense. I assume this is not the area you are focusing upon?
      The School Building Construction group is dealing with projects including land, bricks, mortar and lots of contracts for the work. Is that the area disturbing you?
      If your concern is about actual people “who are managing these highly lucrative BOE contracts,” let’s do some cooperative digging and see what is there? How about it? Give me a call and let’s put some some flesh on the skeletal structure you describe, OK? 203-259-9642. My overall sense of City operations is evaluation of work process, work product and human performance is frequently missing. So when total compensation for City work is higher than similar work in the private sector it begs questioning. Look forward to your call. Time will tell.

      1. Yes indeed, it is the bricks and mortar and goods and services especially the nutrition services that cause me concern. Classroom teacher costs only concern me because they are too damned low. My nephew started this year in his first classroom teaching job right out of college in the NW corner of the state. His initial salary is nearly $15,000 more than he would have earned as a newly graduated teacher in Bridgeport. Instead of putting away money to a highly select goombah’s network for bricks and mortar, we could spend those funds better and apply the savings to the classroom where it matters most. Time will, indeed, tell. We are at the beginnings of making a sweep of Calamarian rule. I’m proud of the challengers. More of us seem to be reacting these days. Maybe voter apathy is waning.

        1. Nutrition is a Federally funded program that appears to cost local taxpayers nothing in excess of the Federal funds coming in. By a strange twist they may gain us some funds … though I am not sure of that. Just looks that way.

          So let’s look at the stream of projects on which we are spending hundreds of millions of State (80%) and local (20%) approximately though in the future the State will pick up less of school building costs. Let’s see generally or specifically what can be saved. Specifics are great at campaign time, upcoming, please call me and let’s get on the topic together. Cooperation beats apathy! Time will tell.

  3. Brannelly and Stafstrom are not the most popular figures in Black Rock, coming off another tax increase Black Rock is the highest taxed area of the City.
    While the good people of Black Rock IMPLORED them not to increase our taxes, Budget Co-Chair Sue Brannelly said “I heard you!” In spite of what she said, she nevertheless voted another Finch tax increase for Black Rock.
    Under Brannelly, Stafstrom and Finch our taxes have increase 31%.


  4. *** Frankly, any “new” school or addition to a school is a good thing for Bpt. However, improving the quality of education, student and parents behavior, as well as interest and participation in the school itself by the entire neighborhood it’s located in, is better! What’s the saying, “it takes an entire village (neighborhood) to raise a child,” no? *** TIME TO GET INVOLVED IN THE BUILDING OF AMERICA’S FUTURE! ***

  5. “Although Torres and Blagys and Brannelly and Stafstrom are running together respectively, the two top vote producers will be elected to the council.”

    So let’s say Torres is on line 1a and Brannelly is on line lb, I could vote for the both of them???

  6. donj,
    I hope Jennifer has been gently helpful on the question of voting for CC and the potential for ticket splitting.
    If you are still confused, you might let the Registrar of Voters’ office know you wish to vote by absentee ballot. Perhaps someone will assist you with instructions without your even raising a question. I understand it has happened elsewhere in the City. What type of help do you require? Time will tell.

  7. *** In my opinion, the right way to vote in Black Rock for something other than the usual Democratic incumbents would be Republican! If not for just change in general, to send a much needed overall message voters are just fed up with the continued political status quo. It’s two political years of something different that hopefully may help in moving the city in a different positive direction. As a Democrat, if I voted in the 130th district; I would vote Republican this coming Nov 2013 no doubt! However, I vote in the 131st district and I will be voting for myself (independent) for city council. *** VOTE ***


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