Whoa! A Debate With All Three Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral debate at Burroughs
From left, Jeff Kohut, Rick Torres and Bill Finch debate issues at the Burroughs Community Center. Photo courtesy of Frank Gerratana.

Democratic Mayor Bill Finch, Republican Rick Torres and petitioning candidate Jeff Kohut debated issues Wednesday night in Black Rock. From Michael Mayko, CT Post:

Mayor Bill Finch urged voters to consider his four years of accomplishments, including maintaining a stable taxes, balancing four budgets and cutting $3 million in costs while rebuilding the city through his Be Green by 2020 initiative.

Republican Rick Torres called upon what he sees as a “burnt out” electorate to liberate the city from its Democratic machine and rebuild the waterfront and education system.

And Jeff Kohut, the independent, envisions a city that is the “cradle of innovation in technology with things like a city-wide, Internet-accessible video surveillance system and grid-free electricity.

For the first time in this election campaign, all three candidates appeared, attacked and agreed, albeit seldom, with each other Wednesday night during a debate before an overflow crowd of nearly 100 in the Burroughs Community Center on Fairfield Avenue. Prior commitments kept Finch away from the previous two debates much to the chagrin of his two opponents.

The format involved the audience writing out questions that were read aloud, with each candidate given the opportunity to respond. On several occasions, however, the candidates’ comments were drowned out by cell phone ring tones, forcing them to pause or yell over the various musical interludes that droned on.

Taxes, declining property values, the lack of jobs and the state of the city’s schools comprised most of the audience’s concerns.

“No ones’ taxes went up during the last three years,” Finch maintained. “No other city can tell you their taxes have not increased in the past three years. No other city can tell you their mil rate has not increased in the past two years. It means I’m spending $3 million less than when I was elected … despite oil, gas electricity and everything else going up.”

But Torres, who has attacked the Democratic machine as corrupt in the past two mayoral elections, accused the mayor of painting “a rosy picture. Close your eyes and you’d think we were living in Stamford.”

The Republican said Bridgeport has the nation’s highest tax burden “and that’s before the state of Connecticut increased taxes.”

“All this patronage stuff has to end,” he told an audience packed with supporters from his Black Rock home base. “We’ve got to get rid of the guys feeding off us …”

To lower taxes, Torres said businesses first have to be lured to the city with tax cuts.

Kohut, too, has his sights on bringing manufacturing back, but he would pursue that, he said, by being proactive using such things as petitions to convince companies such as General Electric, once a manufacturing powerhouse here, to return.

“We must use our strength in numbers to get them back,” he said.

But Finch told the crowd he has already done this, pointing to the recent announcement that Columbia Elevator is moving here, with plans also in place for a grocery store on the old Carpenter Steel site and work on Steel Pointe to begin soon.

On schools, Finch touted the construction of five new schools during his administration, including the soon-to-be built inter district science and technology high school which he believes will become a “tourist attraction” for its environmentally green construction.

The mayor, who pointed out his two young sons attend public schools in Bridgeport, explained his reasons for broaching the state take-over of the city school board.

And he added; “I want what Hartford has — public school choice” on where parents can send their children.

What Kohut wants is a chancellor, like New York, to oversee the school system and a mayor who has a seat and vote on the Board of Education.

But Torres believes Bridgeport’s approach is wrong.

He points to the Gates Foundation, which recommends smaller, neighborhood schools, not the mega-schools the city is building.

“They are real pretty,” he said. “But massive schools are a huge, huge mistake.”



  1. I wish I had known about this debate. However, if it was as unorganized as the last debate at this venue, I am glad I missed it. It seems the Mayor did what he had to do and the other ca6ndidates did what they felt compelled to do. Talking about the Democratic machine is redundant ad nauseum. Most people in the city believe the election took place on September 27th. Good luck to all of the candidates and Mr. Fox in Black Rock. If you make history maybe the Foster camp will lament on what could have been. Maybe Finch was destined to raise the city to a new level. Maybe not. The important thing to remember is Bridgeport’s fate was sealed on September 27th. Bridgeport’s success would be more eminent if we were all on the same page. Maybe after November 8th we will be.

    1. I attended and listened to the statements.
      The Mayor’s “no tax increase” was challenged by people in the audience, and that is hard to deflate. However, no one mentioned the Mayor on our tax notices called to our attention the fact “the Library tax” was a tax increase. That lie, printed on every tax notice, itself belies his no tax increase in three years, doesn’t it? Public Library was in the budget in previous years for about 60% of the dedicated 1 mil totaled as result of the referendum. But the Mayor does not suffer details when he paints with a broad brush.
      So the other major issue I take with his listing of accomplishments (really due to previous administrations) is the education budget. Do you realize the budgets for 2010, 2011, and current 2012 showed BOE as getting $215 Million from the City operating budget? That is flat funding in an environment Bill Finch acknowledged had rising costs? How did he figure his City budget presentations were doing anything healthy for the City? I have not heard him comment on that subject. Perhaps he felt a financial diet would be good for the BOE members to wrestle with? Instead it caused multiple frustrations and a willingness to leave their elected posts, en masse. That was a sad decision for what is left of democratic process in the City that won’t vote! If you support something, don’t you put money into it? Bill Finch’s listing of ambitious goals in December 2007 indicated education was his second priority. Does his budget process in 2008-2011 put the lie to that? Will the public wake up to what was done to their children? Time will tell.

  2. Hey BrownEye, I did the numbers for Jim Fox, he needs 158 votes each from The UN/Repub/Dems 474 and hes in Brownporteye. That’s with a turnout of 18.5%. Go Jim!

    1. Finch was out numbered by 4 to 1 last night, thank god he had his wife there.
      If I were Marty or Sueloop I would start putting up my signs. Now we have 6 people running in the 130th for city council. A**hole.

  3. All BS aside, does anyone outside of OIB actually know he is running as a write-in? I haven’t seen one sign or anything else.

    Maybe he will have 2 votes, himself (fluck, Ronin, cupcake don’t count) and donj.

      1. Dude, this antisemitic side is very unredeeming in someone seeking office. Jimbo, seriously, you are either making fun of someone you think is Jewish or making fun of Jewish people. Hitler was antisemitic also, be careful of the company you keep.

  4. Hey BrownEye, you got that all wrong. They loved Mickey. She’s never there, Mickey was there every day and when she shows up, she’s on the phone running her house cleaning business out of the Senior Center. All the seniors want her out!
    Hey BrownEye, if want your house cleaned, call 203-576-7258.

  5. Dare I say it … Jim is exposed and has proven his multiple personality syndrome … shalom is part of Ronin’s persona fluck! You are so flustered you don’t even know your own other personas anymore, Jim! Get with the program, Ronin is angry and name calling, cupcake just backs fox, come on, look who you logged in with!

  6. Look fluck, I’m just saying does anyone know you are looking for the write-in vote?

    I got a question, if I write in Ronin or cupcake, does it still count for Jim?

    Are you worried your multiple personality disorder hurts your chances of getting elected?

  7. Jim, fluck, Ronin, cupcake, are you a WHITE SUPREMACIST? Do you hate all people who aren’t the same color or religion as you? SHAME ON YOU! I hope people see your real side before the election, all your hate-fueled posts, making fun of other people and their religions, you should be ashamed of yourself!

  8. Please, you’re embarrassing yourself and everyone else on this webzine, burman, if that’s your real name. Get a grip man, stop calling people names. Grow up!

  9. *** ALL for naught, the voter turnout in Bpt will be low & unresponsive towards any real change. It’s become a city of the “undead” just going through the everyday motions without a thought or care in the world! *** TRICK OR TREAT! ***

  10. So there jimbo, Ronin, flick or cupcake, I’m guessing like the true schoolyard bully you are, when you get a dose of your own medicine you don’t like it so much, eh? Got your pride hurt and your nose bloodied a bit, eh? The king of name-calling wants someone else to throw in the towel. You are too much.

  11. I voted for Brannelly last time, but she will never get my vote again. St. Mary’s is the pits, thanks to the I don’t give a shit attitude by our City Council Democrats. Anybody But Brannelly!


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