Can you believe it? Most of the election action is in the suburbs. This can’t be.
Yeah, I know, lots of city political operatives moved to the ‘burbs to cause trouble. Beyond a compelling referendum question to decide funding for Bridgeport’s library system, City Council and Board of Education elections are ho hum. No real action in the state’s largest city this election cycle. Mayor Bill Finch, who enjoys a four-year term, is not up for two more years.
That should not deter political junkies from enjoying the fisticuffs in the suburbs where incumbents in Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull are hanging by their fingernails.
Why does any of this matter to Bridgeport? The better the relationships Bridgeport has with the suburbs the better for the entire region. And a lot of the usual suspects that donate to Bridgeport races are dumping money into suburban races. Yeah, they cannot help themselves.
First up, Shelton. Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti has a lot more to worry about than Democrat Chris Jones. Federal officials have been going through every orifice of the long-term mayor for several years. The mayor has not been charged with any wrong doing, but he is clearly in the crosshairs of a federal investigation and just two weeks before the general election developer James Botti will be on trial for greasing a public official (guess who? ask the feds).
This cannot be good for a popular mayor who has enjoyed nearly 20 years of balanced budgets, low taxes and economic extravaganza. But if Lauretti’s so dirty why hasn’t he been charged? Well, the guy the government thinks can do the most damage to Lauretti will not fold. Botti has stubbornly decided to go to trial and, as a result, is a major toothache to the feds. And maybe, the mayor hopes, the electorate will give him the benefit of the doubt on election day.
If the feds case is so strong why haven’t they charged me?
In Stratford, Democrat Jim “I pack” Miron, the first mayor in history (even though he opposed a mayoral form of government) has his hands full with Republican State Rep. John Harkins. Mayor Miron likes to take on all comers: pols in his own party and opposing party, local scribes, council members, park preservationists, education officials while holstering added thunder in case things get real tough. Maybe we should set up a steel cage match between the mayor and Harkins at Booth Memorial Park to settle this whole thing.
In Trumbull, four-term Democrat Ray Baldwin is fighting for his political life against Republican Tim Herbst, chairman of the the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Tax increases, a $5 million Trumbull High School swimming pool, inflated sewer assessments have contributed to Baldwin’s woes. Ray, a mighty good golfer, is spending a few less rounds this cycle at Tashua Knolls than usual.
None of this suggests suburban incumbents will not survive come election night. But don’t be shocked if Mayor Finch calls opponents the morning after asking: can we talk?
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