There’s no need to sugarcoat or hide from the truth. Corruption in Bridgeport hinders our ability to grow our economy, improve our public schools, police department and other city services. And according to an August 2022 poll conducted by Lake Research Partners, voters are tired of it and overwhelmingly want new leaders to end it once and for all. In fact 87% of all adults say reducing corruption is very important for Bridgeport elected leaders to address.

Over the years our city government stopped working for the betterment of all people and started working for a few individuals and their personal gain. Ensuring that those in power, namely Mayor Joe Ganim and Democratic Town Committee Chair Mario Testa, keep it. First elected in 1991, Ganim’s been mayor for nearly 20 years and Testa has led the Democratic Town Committee for almost 30. The good news is that our city doesn’t have to stay this way. We can vote out corruption and put the right leaders in the right places. We can chart a new course if we’re all clear about how we got here and commit to doing what we need to do to move on. In our video, Bridgeport Corruption: How it Works and How We Can Fix it!, we say it plain. 

93% of Mayor Ganim’s Campaign Donations Come From Special Interests!

One, special interests groups from outside our city pour money into our local elections via campaign donations in exchange for political influence. This was true in 2019 and is shaping up to be true this year. Tomorrow, we’ll release an analysis of the Ganim for Bridgeport 2023 financial filings, which will show that a whopping 93% of his donations so far come from special interests, the majority of whom are located outside of Bridgeport. 

Two, during our elections political operatives abuse the absentee ballot process targeting, intimidating and manipulating some of our most vulnerable residents; our elderly, youth, disabled, low-income and Spanish-speaking voters. All for the purpose of tracking and controlling their votes! In 2019 during the last mayoral election, Hearst Media conducted an in-depth investigation into the absentee voting process in Bridgeport and uncovered widespread voter irregularities. And in that same year we helped voters sue the Ganim campaign and other city officials because of the abuse. For decades, this behavior has destabilized our democracy to the point that Bridgeport voters feel that their votes don’t matter. 

Councilman Alfredo Castillo and Political Operatives Already Signed Out 600 Absentee Ballot Applications.

Gearing up for the 2023 election, on February 1st we visited the Bridgeport Town Clerk’s office to review the Absentee Ballot Application Log. Shockingly, City Councilman Alfredo Castillo and political operatives Democratic Town Committee member Steve Eaton and Robert Anderson have signed out 600 applications since January for the Democratic primary election on September 12. If not to try and manipulate the absentee ballots process, why do political operatives need absentee ballot applications 9 months in advance of an election?

And three, corruption thrives in Bridgeport because elected officials use city jobs as payment for political support. This is classic political patronage which results in Bridgeport hiring wholly unqualified individuals in lieu of qualified professionals. Since 2016, the system of patronage at the highest levels of Mayor Ganim’s administration has cost Bridgeport residents upwards of $1.5 million. Paid out in legal settlements, no-show jobs, consultant and attorney fees the cost of corruption takes its toll on our local government. Just like our federal government was under Trump, it is impossible to govern effectively when unqualified people lead departments and the administration is mired in scandal after scandal. This practice has a damaging effect on our children, our quality of life, our safety and our economy. 

All this mess – special interest money influencing our elected officials, rigged elections, and political patronage on steroids – keeps the average Bridgeporter feeling in the dark about what’s really going on. In the confusion voter apathy sets in and people opt to stay home rather than cast a ballot. This chaos is by design and we can thank the political machine for that. They really don’t want people to come out and vote. They want to control elections. When elections are easy to control, they can keep Mayor Ganim installed in City Hall, hoarding power and city resources.

But this year, we won’t let them steal our voices and our votes. This year, “We The People” have the power to elect candidates for Mayor, City Council, and Board of Education who are ready to end corruption at City Hall. We know that Bridgeport is better than this. 

Light At The End of The Tunnel!

That’s why, as an antidote to the political machine, the Unrig Bridgeport coalition launched our Year of Change campaign.  It’s our job as Bridgeport residents to join together to fight back and fix our broken democracy.  When we vote together for candidates who stand against corruption, we can have safer streets, fully funded schools, affordable housing, an improved police department, and job opportunities that benefit people, not just special interests. It’s time to have the Bridgeport of our dreams. Let’s step into the light together.

Love Bridgeport? Pledge to Vote on Tues, Sept, 12th and Donate to the Year of Change HERE!

The Unrig Bridgeport coalition is made up of the following community and statewide organizations: Bridgeport Generation Now Votes, Bridgeport Strong, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Greater Bridgeport NAACP, Greater Bridgeport Ed Gomes Black Democratic Club, Make the Road Action, PT Partners, and SEIU 1199 New England.