The Times Are Changing

Where did eight years go for Bill Finch? And where did 12 years go for Joe Ganim? Strange as it seems, in one week Finch ends his mayoralty and Ganim commences a historic encore albeit a resumption from 2003. When Ganim receives the oath of office Dec. 1, he will tack on to his standing as the second-longest serving mayor in city history. Ganim became mayor in his first run when he was just 32 years old in November 1991.

Socialist Jasper McLevy, 1933-57, ranks number one in term of service. He stood on street corners for 20 years railing against the sins of Democrats and Republicans until the timing was right for an electoral embrace. Electors kept him there for 24 years when arguably his voter base had ended up on the obituary page. McLevy was 55 when elected, 79 when he lost to Democrat Sam Tedesco in 1957.

Had Finch been elected to a third four-year term and finished out the voter mandate, he’d be placed behind McLevy as the longest-serving mayor. Instead Finch lost to Ganim in a September Democratic primary.

In the nearly 180 years of city mayors, McLevy, Ganim  and Clifford B. Wilson (1911-21) are the only chief executives to hit double digits in years served, followed by Tedesco (1957-65), Finch (2007-15), and Hugh Curran (1965-71) and John Mandanici (1975-81), both of whom served for six years.

Finch had never aspired to be mayor. Elected to the State Senate in 2000 following nearly a decade on the City Council, he enjoyed life in the General Assembly as one of 36 in the upper chamber. Circumstances changed all that in the spring of 2007. John Fabrizi, who had replaced Ganim as mayor, experienced his own set of personal issues with revelations that he had snorted cocaine on the job, followed by his urging a state judge to show leniency on behalf of a sexual offender who was a friend of his son. The electorate freaked and Democratic party regulars searched for someone who could defeat the voter base of maverick State Rep. Chris Caruso, a close 2003 mayoral contender, whom they feared would power wash the political establishment into the Pequonnock River.

Finch became their man. Early polling showed Finch behind Caruso but as Democratic primary voters focused, the race tightened and Finch squeaked out a primary win on his way to a general election victory. Finch was reelected to a second four-year term in 2011. But things can change relatively quickly in the schizoid world of city politics.

Political skirmishes, education battles, higher taxes, a spike in violent crime made Finch vulnerable. Ganim stepped up to reclaim his old job. Backed by a passionate volunteer base and mighty fundraising operation, Ganim lanced Finch on his way to an impressive general election win.



  1. Steve, thanks. Now I feel like one of the OIB bloggers. You’re not really a OIB blogger unless someone calls you an arrogant ass. 🙂 Only in Bridgeport. 🙂


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