BRIDGEPORT – The mayoral dreams of Cecil C. Young, the longtime city activist who was tackled last May at a public hearing by a city councilman, may have been thwarted by a typographical error.
Anyone hoping to get his or her name on the November mayoral ballot as an independent candidate needed to turn in 126 signatures from registered city voters to the Town Clerk’s Office Wednesday by 4 p.m.
Young turned in zero.
To understand why, though, will take a minute.
Last week, Young submitted to the Secretary of State’s office 45 signatures supporting his candidacy. He received a form requiring the 126 signatures – which represents 1 percent of the turnout in the last mayoral race – this Monday.
“Candidate’s name,” it said above the blank rows for signatures. “Cedil C. Young”
When Young called the office Monday afternoon to complain, he was told to go out and get the signatures anyway. It’s too close to deadline to get a replacement, he was told. And the office will accept your signatures even if the candidate’s name is wrong.
Instead, Young wrote up a complaint Tuesday, requesting a new form and an extended deadline. He folded the complaint into an envelope and put it in the mail, bound for Hartford. Then he faxed a copy of the complaint to the Connecticut Post.
Reached for comment Wednesday, hours before the 4 p.m. deadline, this was news to the Secretary of State’s office. Nor did a spokesman seem to care.
“If (Young) is waiting, he really only has himself to blame,” said Av Harris, noting that the forms were available on January 3 to anyone hoping to run for mayor in November. “We have zero discretion to extend any of these deadlines, which are statutory deadlines.”
Young, who has four lawsuits swirling through the court system already, said he’ll take the matter up with his lawyer, if rejected. He’s crying foul.
Asked why he didn’t fax his complaint Tuesday to the Secretary of State’s office, he blamed them for not faxing him the “Cedil Young” form, which he says he only received Monday, or a replacement. Asked why he wasn’t taking the office’s directions – Harris said the office would accept the 126 signatures on the “Cedil” form, if submitted – Young suggested that would be unethical, maybe illegal and devastating to his campaign chances.
“I don’t have time to explain to people why my name is ‘Cecil’ and not ‘Cedil,’” he said. “People are going to read it and say: ‘That ain’t your name.’”
Referring to the Secretary of State’s office, he added: “Don’t tell me what I should have did. No, they should have did it. Not me.”
With an hour before the deadline arrived Wednesday, Cecil was on a roll: “Why should I be forced to go out there like a madman trying to run down everyone I can and convince them to sign my form when it’s not even my name?”
That would reflect poorly on his governing skills, he said.
“Am I going to get in trouble?” he believes voters would say, when presented with the “Cedil” form, “because this isn’t (your) real name.”
Or, worse yet: “Is this the way (you’re) going to run City Hall? The proper papers haven’t been filed, but go ahead and do it anyway?”
Young says the pressures of “standing up to authority” for several decades has left him physically, mentally and psychologically exhausted.
(He was tackled onto a bench at a city council meeting last May after his long, spirited complaint that sewage is seeping into the basement of the P.T. Barnum Housing Complex, where he grew up. Councilman Angel DePara Jr. approached him at the microphone and they had a brief scuffle. Young was tackled, injuring his back, he claims. He’s since had back surgery and says more is necessary.)
Young wasn’t planning on running for mayor until neighbors insisted he do so. That was just a few weeks ago, he says, which in part explains why he didn’t get the required form until Monday.
“You do a poll. Ask the people, ‘What do you think of Cecil Young running for mayor?’” he says. “Ten-to-one, they’ll say, ‘Why not?’”
“I’m a sick man,” added Young, who says he has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and has been seeing a psychiatrist for several years. “But before I just lie down and act like I’m dead, if I can look up, I’m going to get up. If I can see up, I’m going to speak up.”
Even so, he said he could handle the rigors of being mayor. Though he can’t run or climb stairs or bend over like he once could, he’s mobile enough when taking his pain medication. Also, he’s as loud as ever, he said. And he’ll appoint people to his administration who are in good enough mental and physical shape to carry out his policies.
Like a modern Job, though, Young is conflicted over his mission. He considers the typo a sign from God that he should hang up his political dreams. He says his wife is exhausted. Then again, he promised God when he was 16 that he’d use his gift for standing up to authority to benefit his fellow Bridgeporters.
“If I won, there would be jubilation in this city like never before,” Young said. “I would turn around this city in ways they never thought it could be turned around – by motivating people, by asking people, ‘What are your needs?’”