Talk About Political Odd Couple–Could Working Familes Party Endorse Rick Torres For City Council?

Oh, this could be so much fun. Jennifer Buchanan, supporter of Republican-endorsed City Council candidates Rick Torres and Phil Blagys, dropped off petitioning sheets Wednesday afternoon at the Town Clerk’s Office with signatures of registered voters from Black Rock seeking another line for the candidates’ names to appear in the November general election. This isn’t just any line. It’s for the Connecticut Working Families Party traditionally aligned with pro-labor, pro-minimum-wage-increase Democrats. Torres, two-time mayoral candidate, is proud of his small-government conservative credentials sometimes contrary to WFP values. Could this be a defining pragmatic moment for both WFP and Torres?

What gives? Both sides have a common enemy–Bridgeport’s Democratic establishment–and see an opportunity to win City Council seats against Democratic incumbents Sue Brannelly and Steven Stafstrom.

The WFP has elected three of its candidates to the nine-member Board of Education since 2009, but has not yet ventured into City Council races. The political party has made its mark in Connecticut elections pushing left of center from moderate Democrats and leveraging its mantra as “an independent party that stands up for hard working every day families across Connecticut–not the Wall Street banks, the lobbyists and the CEOs.” In some cases it has forced candidates to gravitate to positions aligned with the WFP because the extra line can bring extra votes. Example, in 2010 Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley received more votes on the Republican line than Dan Malloy netted on the Democratic line. Malloy won the governorship when the 26,000 votes he received running on the WFP line were added to his column. Some political operatives maintain most of those WFP votes would be Malloy’s under any circumstances but there’s a school of thought about one percent of the electorate cannot stand to vote for either major party so the WFP becomes a viable line for them.

In close races it could matter. Torres is well-liked in Black Rock, where his Harborview Market serves as the mothership of community activists, and has proven so at the ballot box, but prone to candor about national social issues that can focus away from nuts and bolts issues so key in a local race. Blagys, whose roots in the neighborhood can transcend politics, provides a nice complement to Torres. More on the Blagys impact here.

A WFP endorsement of Torres could help his standing with some working-class constituents in Black Rock. In return, a Torres/Blagys win provides the WFP credibility in council races.

Campaign operatives for the community action group Citizens Working For A Better Bridgeport were instrumental in trying to broker a WFP endorsement for Torres and Blagys.

This endorsement is not a done deal. Irrespective of submitting signatures to qualify for the WFP line, the party “still must endorse any candidate wishing to appear on our line,” according to communications director Taylor Leake. “The process starts with the candidates filling out the questionnaire, and then the State Committee decides which candidates have earned our endorsement. Candidates cannot just petition their way onto our line, the party must vote to endorse them.”

Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, has influence over endorsements. She is weighing questionnaire responses submitted by Torres and Blagys. An endorsement decision is expected within a few days. WFP municipal candidate questionnaire here.

WFP website here.



    1. Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
      And I’m wondering what it is I should do,
      It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,
      Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,
      Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
      Here I am, stuck in the middle with you–

      The late great Gerry Rafferty.

  1. *** If Torres is indeed being endorsed by the WFP for city council this would be a great move forward for all parties and people looking for possible change in our local city government. *** HERE WE GO! ***

  2. The potential endorsement speaks volumes about WFP’s commitment to Bridgeport. I am impressed with them for their willingness to come together to consider building a bridge. Good Form, WFP!

  3. The petition is for Rick Torres and Phil Blagys. We had less than 18 hours to get the signatures and obtained over triple the number required. Hopefully the GOP and the WFP will come together to promote integrity, transparency, accountability and transformation in Bridgeport. You can’t expect to achieve positive and lasting change in Bridgeport with the same Council members who are part of the political machine that is killing the City.

  4. “… Integrity, transparency, accountability and transformation …”

    Always brings tears to my eyes when talking about Bridgeport politics.

    In this case, the old proverb applies: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    1. Jim,
      It’s OK to be teary eyed and celebrate at the same time. In addition, creative and historic alliances to defeat the political machine and make real progress makes sense.

    2. The tears are the result of what has been done to this once-vibrant city. The proverb can be attributed to both an Islamic proverb and an east Indian proverb. Either way both describe the morass of the City of Bridgeport.

  5. In the spirit of transparency will Rick and Phil make public their answers to the survey?

    While it’s great to get the extra line on the ballot, I wonder at what cost it might come. As I read some of the questions I would be very interested to see their positions on the issues that are important to the WFP. I would hope they do not handcuff themselves just to get the endorsement.

    I would like to think they would be able to win the seats outright. They are running against Sue’s record of voting the party line and increasing taxes year over year and never questioning anything that comes out of the administration. Steve, the hand-picked machine candidate, did not fully support the state bill barring municipal employees on the council and already has had to recuse himself from votes before the council due his business relationships. How can Steve fully represent his district if his current occupation will cause him to recuse himself many times during a full term on the council? On top of that they both stood in front of their constituents this spring, and heard them say no tax increase this year, and they said they were listening and still they both voted for it. Was there a huge contingent of voters that told them to support a tax increase I do not know about?

    Just hammering on these points I would hope would resonate with voters out there. I am new to following the politics but I can’t imagine (D) next your name is an automatic vote in Black Rock, especially now.

    1. Captain,
      If you know Rick and Phil, you already know they are principled persons with real integrity. Any GOP and WFP alliance would be based on a common desire to defeat the political machine in Bridgeport and move the City forward. I feel sure Rick and Phil will campaign based on the facts, the current Council’s poor record and what needs to be done to create a better Bridgeport. Compared to the status quo, they represent the only real choice for Black Rock if you want the future to be better than the past.

      1. Dave–thanks for the reply. I guess that is part of point. I do not know them well, that is why I would like to know more about this potential alliance. Many of the questions they ask in the questionnaire have implications on the city budget and services so I would just like to know ahead of time what to expect.

        The current administration has time again asked us to trust them, they assure us they are doing what is best for everyone. We all know how well that has worked out. I am sorry but I do not just take people’s word for it anymore.

        Even if Cincinnatus was running for city council in Black Rock I would still want to know about any potential alliances he may have. I would trust, but verify.

        I certainly did not intend to call into question anyone’s character. There is no way I can vote for rubber stamp Sue and conflicted Steve, I just saw this as an opportunity to find out more about where they stand on certain issues.

        1. Captain,
          In the interest of transparency, Rick and Phil agreed to the below CW4BB principles for City Council candidates.

          AUGUST 2013

          o. I agree that my first commitment is to serve the interests of my constituents and the city and not any particular political party, individual or special interest group.

          o. I commit to act in a honest, professional  and ethical manner in connection with all my public duties and responsibilities.

          o. I commit to read, understand and do my best to ensure that the City Charter and ordinances applicable to the City Council are upheld.

          o. I commit to make attending City Council and committee meetings for which I am assigned a top priority and to study the issues that I am asked to vote on.

          o. I commit, to the best of my ability, to hold the Mayor and his/her administration accountable for properly and ethically discharging their responsibilities consistent with the City Charter and applicable ordinances.

          o. I commit to do my best to help promote economic growth and job opportunities in order to ensure that the city’s tax base grows faster than the city’s budget so property tax burdens can be reduced over time.

          o. I commit not to accept any city job or contracts with the city which are funded by the City of Bridgeport’s Treasury (does not apply to the BOE) while serving on the City Council.

          o. I commit to recuse myself from any and all matters where I have or may appear to have a conflict of interest and to publicly disclose any and all city related matters where my family members or close friends are involved.

          o. I commit to promote transparency and accountability in connection with Council matters, especially in regard to financial matters, and will promptly disclose any malfeasance as well as any actual or potential or conflicts of interest that become known to me.

          o. I commit to support responsible education reform and funding that focuses on improving student performance, including appropriate transparency, controls and accountability mechanisms for both the Board of Education and the Superintendent. 

          o. I commit to support the need for the creation of a Charter Review Commission for the purpose of pursuing meaningful and comprehensive charter reform that includes governance, financial, education and other reforms. All such reforms would be designed to improve the integrity, transparency and accountability of Bridgeport’s government.
          o. I commit to support the need for a state appointed Financial Control Board for the city in order to help restructure its finances and avoid bankruptcy.

          o. I commit to holding periodic “town hall” meetings and related forums for the purpose of informing my constituents, providing them an opportunity to express their views, and responding to their questions on important issues facing our city.

  6. Is reaching across the aisle starting here in Bridgeport? I believe the WFP, GOP and Rick and Phil can agree on the common ground good government is achieved not by one-party rule, but a balance of parties coming to the table to put the needs of all citizens above the needs of a single party. It is said all Politics is local–and this is an example of two parties finding common ground and taking a long hard look at the benefit for all Bridgeport voters. I am both proud and excited the WFP, GOP, Rick and Phil are showing such integrity and willingness to work together in this possible endorsement–to put aside partisan politics to move Bridgeport forward and promote the greater good.

  7. As much as Phil & Rick & WFP hold Bridgeport’s Democratic regime in contempt, I don’t see enough common ground between them for either WFP to endorse them or Phil & Rick to accept their endorsement.

    1. Flubadub–we must work on expanding your vision–the common ground of no more one-party rule and open and accountable government to the taxpayer working man and woman seems like pretty solid ground to me.

      1. JB, I am unable to access the WFP questionnaire, so perhaps my view is premature. However, from what I know of WFP’s guiding principles and Rick and Phil’s views on those, my vision is very clear. I’m referring specifically to labor unions and R & P’s contempt for them.

        1. Flubadub, both of my parents belonged to labor unions. I do not have contempt for labor unions. I am a Constitutionalist and labor unions are protected under the Constitution’s first Amendment “… or the right of the people peaceably to assemble …” Please don’t assume my beliefs, I am happy to share them with you.

          1. So is Rick going to now support minimum wage laws and CT’s mandatory sick-leave bill? And supporting a financial “control” board. Such boards have frequently been used to eliminate public-sector unions and collective bargaining.

        2. Seeing Phil and Torres on the WF line would really surprise me. WF is not some phony third-line party like the Independent Party. They have supported GOP members, Sauda Baraka is an example but certainly not people who oppose things like minimum-wage laws.

  8. Joel G, where are thee …
    I was wrong. The dog did eat my bid specification package. Please read Bern Tardy’s lame-ass excuse about the lack of a published Bid Waiver.

    “The city’s procurement rules would have required Tardy to notify the council within five days of waiving competitive bidding for the driveway. But Tardy said around 2008 he sent a memo to all departments–and Mayor Bill Finch–explaining he no longer had the staff to issue those required internal alerts.”

    So for 5 years Bern Tardy and the Mayor have failed to issue written notifications of bid waivers. A city employee and the mayor decide that due to budget cuts they don’t have to follow city ordinances.

    “The ordinance does not give you an option,” said Council President Thomas McCarthy, D-133.

    So Council President McCarthy what is your council going to do? I believe the city can level daily fines for failing to adhere to ordinances.

    Let’s see how quickly Attorney Anastasi and Deputy Labor Director McCarthy claim there is nothing they can do.

    This is criminal. Every contract awarded via a bid waiver for which notice was not provided to the council should be declared null and void and the city should seek restitution from the illegally named contractor.

    The city council cannot allow this brazen attitude to continue.

    1. Bob,
      The Finch Administration and the current City Council regularly violate the City Charter and City Ordinances. For example, CW4BB is still waiting for replies to several FOIA filings that involve such violations as well as decisions on two major ethics complaints involving top Administration and Council officials. The simple truth is Tom “Conflict” McCarthy is a lapdog for Finch and both Finch and he treat the rest of the City Council like mushrooms–and the other Council members put up with it! It’s time for real change in Bridgeport.

    2. They didn’t have the money for staff BUT they had money to give themselves 15% raises and buy Manny a new driveway. Such a crock of BS. Can’t the FBI or someone help us?

  9. Let’s hope and pray in the event Republicans are finally elected, they don’t turn out to be like: Thomas Cunningham the Republican who voted to dissolve the elected BOE; Charles Valentino, the Republican State Marshall who committed perjury when asked under oath if he served legal papers to Stefan Pryor; Nate Snow, the Republican candidate for BOE in 2009 who later supported the mayoral appointment of BOE members and strong advocate for charter schools. Buyers beware!

    1. Joel, our council person Sue Brannelly was standing in the voting line supporting mayoral appointment of the school BOE, Phil and Rick were not there. Sue opposed Hennessy’s 5724 conflict of interest bill. Rick Torres took time off from work to speak in Hartford for the bill. Most people in Black Rock did not know Phil is a Republican. Both of these men unite the community, and work to bring the community together over some very diverse issues. They are a real asset to Bridgeport, more leaders like these two must be elected to unite this city.

        1. My point is they were not working for appointed school board, either. Sue Brannelly was actively working for appointed. It was in response to Joel’s beware of all Republicans.

  10. I vote at Black Rock school and have voted against Torres before but if he is running for city council I am willing to put my differences aside and vote for him time around. Vote Torres!!!

    1. donj,
      Thanks very much. Please vote for Phil too and please pass the word to your friends, family and personal network. As has been said, expecting different results from the same City Council members doing the same thing is insanity! The 2013 election is critical to creating a better future. The 2014 and 2015 elections will also be of critical importance as well.

  11. Last time the FBI starred sniffing around, our Mayor resigned and went to jail. The Council President, Johnny the Nose, was elevated to become Mayor. We were no better off, trading a crook for an admitted drug abuser as well as a consummate dummy.

    My point here is it is a distinct possibility similar circumstance could befall upon this administration.

    Those whom we elect to the council will have a dramatic effect on the future, our future.

    Let’s get our people in and appointed to roles of actual authority and responsibility, especially Council President.

    1. yahooy,
      Right on! Tom McCarthy, the current City Council President, and several other City employees on the Council have clear and compelling conflicts. In addition, they are all serving in direct violation of City Charter that was ratified by all the citizens of Bridgeport. You would think the DTC and these people would respect the will of the people of Bridgeport, but they obviously don’t. Therefore, it’s time to take other steps to remove them from office. This is especially important in connection with Tom “Conflict” McCarthy who is a lapdog for Mayor Finch and who has failed to ensure the Council discharges its responsibilities consistent with the City Charter, applicable ordinances, and in a manner that is in the interests of the taxpayers of this City.

  12. Too many doomfeaks using straight-line extrapolations involving linear thinking to draw namby-pamby conclusions that undermine progress. Maybe the FBI will leave Bridgeport untouched.

    1. There are a few real freaks floating around here portending a polysyllabic persona for whatever gain. We are far better off without these contributions especially in important and troubling times.

  13. Help bring the CW4BB principles for candidates to the polls and to future Bridgeport City Government!

    Now is the time -contact Citizens Working for a Better Bridgeport (CW4BB) at

    and get involved! 🙂

    “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”–Thomas Jefferson

  14. Wow. Way to Go WFP for considering the fact the end game is the same! I really hope this works out but even the fact it is being discussed and petitioned gives us Bridgeport residents hope a better future is possible. The common ground is Bridgeport, and the common goal is good government. I commend you, WFP.

  15. So I read Lennie’s last blog about how the west of Ellsworth voters are far better off wage-wise than east who vote at Longfellow. I could not disagree more, voters who live on Alfred, Princeton, King and Scofield all vote at Black Rock school and I am one of them. We sure are not rich like the voters east of Fairfield Ave near the beach. Most voters who live between the portion of Fairfield Ave and Canfield are minority voters and they vote at Black Rock school. So I think it was a bad job of comparing Black Rock school voters to Longfellow school voters. Black Rock school is like two precincts in one, the Fairfield Ave to Grovers Ave voters (rich) and the Fairfield Ave to Canfield Ave voters (black, Hispanic and middle class white voters who all vote at Black Rock). Black Rock school is a solid solid Democratic precinct, Obama won two to one there both in 2008 1,567 to McCain 702 and again in 2012 Obama 1,465 to Romney 703. The thing is Black Rock voters are open-minded and will give a Republican a try from time to time, example Torres he got 679 votes on the machines and Finch got 429 votes on the machines at Black Rock school. I voted for Finch, btw. Like I said before though, I’m putting my differences aside with Torres and voting for him for city council.


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