The campaign to fix Bridgeport’s broken democracy.
Bridgeport residents deserve a fully functioning government free from political corruption. Period.
Democracy – government of the people, by the people, for the people – in Bridgeport is broken. Under the leadership of Democratic Town Committee Chair Mario Testa, our city has been hijacked to ensure white men with power keep it. Aided and abetted by political operatives, our electoral process has been under constant assault. Through absentee ballot abuse and fraud, our elections are rigged and Bridgeport’s progress has been crippled by corruption to the point that our most important civic institutions – the mayor’s office, city council, police department, board of education, etc. – are all essentially non-functioning. Evidence from the 2019 Lazar vs Ganim lawsuit exposed political operatives for targeting some of our most vulnerable citizens – the elderly, young people, disabled, and mono-lingual spanish speakers all for the purpose of controlling their votes. This is voter suppression. And, they’ve been getting away with it for over 40 years.
Donald Trump, Mario Testa and Joseph Ganim use the same political playbook. What the country just survived under Trump on the federal level is happening right here, right now in Bridgeport. Constant chaos, criminal investigations, FBI subpoenas, and incessant attempts to manipulate election results are the byproducts of a normalized culture of corruption. All made possible by strongmen rationing out government jobs to loyal cronies. The play is one of control. Give jobs to unqualified people in exchange for political support and loyalty. This is political patronage. It keeps everyone locked into a system that benefits the few at the expense of the many. It is a tactic we all saw in the 2018 Police Chief search and the 2019 Superintendent Search. And it keeps Bridgeport residents in the dark and divided about what’s really going on.
Bridgeport’s Democracy must be restored. Voter suppression and political patronage are direct threats to a fully functioning democracy. They are the tools of Authoritarianism – a system desperate to nullify the will of the people, concentrate power and silence opposing voices. American Democracy on the other hand is dependent on opposing voices debating in the public square, then accepting the results of free and fair elections. As the current FBI criminal investigations of Mayor Ganim’s cronies plays out, Bridgeport is at its breaking point. Our democracy must be fixed, and it’s our job to fix it.
In 2018 as the Connecticut chapter of Represent Us, a national anti-corruption organization, Bridgeport Generation Now brought together a coalition of residents, community organizations, leaders, activists and elected officials under the banner, Bridgeport United Against Corruption. Together we successfully passed an anti-corruption resolution through the City Council and fought for transparency in the Police Chief search. In 2019 Bridgeport Generation Now Votes supported Bridgeport citizens in suing the Ganim Campaign alleging absentee ballot improprieties in the Democratic Primary and in 2020 we worked with the CT Safe Vote Coalition, Common Cause and our Bpt Safe Vote Coalition to expand mail-in voting due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, in 2021 VOTES is pulling our coalitions together again and launching UNRIG BRIDGEPORT 2021: A Campaign to fix Bridgeport’s Democracy. Working with our broad based coalition and State Delegation we will: