Connecticut Post (Sunday)

Bradley should resign, allow special election

- By Juliemar Ortiz Juliemar Ortiz is a Bridgeport resident and former state Capitol staffer.

Time is running out for Bridgeport and Stratford to receive adequate representa­tion in the Connecticu­t state Senate during the 2022 legislativ­e session.

Last week, things took a turn for the worse when state Sen. Dennis Bradley’s campaign worker and former Stratford town councilor Tina Manus pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection to election fraud conspiracy during Bradley’s 2018 campaign. The embattled senator and his then-campaign treasurer, Bridgeport Board of Education member Jessica Martinez, are also charged with conspiring to defraud Connecticu­t’s public campaign financing program of $179,850.

Instead of dragging his constituen­ts down with him, Bradley should resign and give voters a chance to elect someone they can trust to represent them at the state Capitol in time for the next legislativ­e session convening on Feb. 9. This can only happen if Bradley steps down, allowing the governor to call for a special election to take place as early as 46 days after the vacancy.

It seems clear however, that Bradley, who was arrested and released on bond in May, has no intention of giving up his seat even as a judge this week granted a continuanc­e in the federal trial until February — the exact same time senators are expected to return to Hartford to chair committee meetings, attend public hearings, and negotiate, draft, and vote on critical legislatio­n.

But herein lies the problem: as a result of his indictment, Bradley was stripped of legislativ­e committee assignment­s, which means he can no longer represent his constituen­ts in an adequate and fair manner. Without the trust of his fellow legislator­s, Bradley is at a significan­t disadvanta­ge. This reality should concern every voter in the 23rd Senate District, who already get the short end of the stick when it comes to state funding for housing, education, health care, economic developmen­t, public safety and many other critical government programs.

As Connecticu­t continues to move towards a more equitable future, our residents need bold, modern, progressiv­e leadership — someone who values transparen­cy in government and who will take a stand against corruption.

However, this week, in response to calls for his resignatio­n from the Connecticu­t Republican Party, Bradley compared himself to Donald Trump, calling it a “tragedy” for anyone to “ignore process” and call for his resignatio­n prior to having his “fair day in court.”

What the senator fails to fully recognize is that elected officials must be held to a higher standard, especially when the charges they face are directly tied to their role in government and erode public trust. Residents of his own district have been betrayed by elected leaders many times before and should not be expected to hold out for his trial in order to regain legislativ­e power.

If Bradley is truly the “freedom fighter” he claims to be, he would step down and give Bridgeport and Stratford voters freedom to choose better representa­tion. If he ends up proving his innocence, no one is stopping him from running for the seat next November.

Until then, he must put the needs of the hardworkin­g people in his district first and not his own.

Let’s hope and pray he makes the right choice in time for session.

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