As a former spokesman of the Bridgeport City Council, active Democrat and former National Committeeman of the Young Democrats of America, today I call for independence from the members of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.
The 90-member committee is comprised of area democrats, elected as a small sample to represent the thousands of Democrats registered in the city. In addition to selecting nominees to stand for office on the Democratic ticket in annual elections, the Board acts as a liaison between the Democratic leaders and the public at large. A primary contest has begun, with elections set for the 6th of March (near the Ides of March) in two districts.
A fissure has developed between the members of the party, beset by multiple purposes, of gaining electoral success and advancing the cause of the people, which resulted in four declared candidates in last falls election for the Democratic nomination for mayor.
In last years nominating convention, not one of the 90 incumbent committee members rose to place any of the mayor's ( a Trumbull native who is a THS grad) challengers in formal nomination, which is a normal procedure to ensure due dilligence, when any stated Democrat chooses to seek elected office. Contrary to normal practices, these candidates, were even barred from addressing the committee, according to local sources.
There were three slates of candidates brought forward to oppose the incumbents, filed with the registrar of voters office in Bridgeport before the Feb. 1 deadline.
The Democratic registrar's office, which moved from historic McLevy Hall to the City Hall Annex, declared one of the slate, featuring former member Joel Gonzalez (an ally of Daniels Farm native, Bill Finch and famous for having cut his finger off and bringing it inside the CT House chamber in all its bloody drama), invalid as not enough signatures had been acquired.
That challenge would have taken place in the 130th district against Dan Roach, the Democratic party boss in the West End and Black Rock section of town. Also under challenge would have been former Councilman Patrick Crossin, Councilman Thomas Mulligan, Jr. and former State Rep. Hector A. Diaz.
Two challenger slates have been deemed as valid and will contest the seats in March. The 131st district featuring Mitchell Robles, City Sherriff and Americo Santiago, former Deputy Secretary of State under Miles Rapoport will be facing a group including former Councilman Rafael Mojica and eight other Democrats.
In the 137th district, current member Alberto Ayala, who was removed from the party endorsed slate, will be the challenger this time joining a coalition of democratic members including Gilberto Hernandez, a former elected official as well.
Town committees must serve to represent all the registered democrats in a municipality.
This is what democracy is about, competition. Sometimes lack of competition silts up the process. Sometimes people throw their hat in the ring just to maintain influence, sometimes to contrast personalities, but the comittee is the building block of party politics and when its members cease to perform their functions it can quickly resemble North Korea.
We need a kind of diversity on the town committee so that we can build leadership for the future, to choose qualified candidates, as the purpose of the process is to elect people who can do the job, people who are our community, not merely to achieve partisan electoral success. We'll leave that delusion to the other guys.
This election, on March 6th, to select members of the Bridgeport Democratic caucus, ironically falls on the most sacred day in ancient Rome to celebrate democracy.
The 6th of March, in the Republic we often like to claim similarities with, was a day of supplication, a feast of public thanksgiving for the Goddess Vesta and for the Roman people themselves, as each Roman was the guardian of democracy and this festival celebrated that Rome was her people.
Sadly, the Bridgeport Democrats will be celebrating anything but the strength and the power of the people, whom they have all but castrated, with this next election. Much posturing will occur, but very little discussion on the importance of representing the wishes of the citizens, and most likely an endorsement by a very small minority of people will decide the outcome.
If the general election last november carried 18% total turn out, we can expect something like 4% to make the effort to vote on Tuesday March 6. This is a sad state of affairs for everyone involved, Democrats, Republicans, rich and poor alike. People from the city and suburbs like Trumbull, the hometown of Bridgeport's highest ranking Democrat, Bill Finch.
For it means failure, not just in representing the people effectively, by engaging them, but also a failure in what is becoming the American Republic.
We may never achieve the character of the ancients, who would trudge miles in the mud and foul weather, in their clean toga, on foot or on horse, without use of the mail or internet or automotive transportation, to exercise their right as citizens, a birthright that advanced a civilization, and a sensibility that predated recorded history.