Ganim sup­port­ers stick with him de­spite loss to La­mont.

Back­ers still sup­port Bridge­port mayor’s gu­ber­na­to­rial bid de­spite loss to La­mont

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Brian Lock­hart

HART­FORD — Once in a while, Bridge­port em­ploy­ees board a po­lice depart­ment bus, turn it into a “mo­bile City Hall” and ride into dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hoods to deliver ser­vices.

On Satur­day, it looked like that tour had stalled at the Demo­cratic Con­ven­tion.

There sat Bridge­port’s head of pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties and his deputy, and the city’s lawyer and his deputy. Also, the po­lice chief and as­sorted may­oral aides. The fi­nance di­rec­tor. The health di­rec­tor.

All sup­port­ing their boss, Mayor Joe Ganim, in his un­suc­cess­ful bid for the gu­ber­na­to­rial en­dorse­ment.

Some were del­e­gates cast­ing votes, oth­ers, just cheer­lead­ers.

Health Di­rec­tor Mar­itza Bond gave a pas­sion­ate nom­i­nat­ing speech for Ganim.

But having lost the del­e­gates’ en­dorse­ment to Ned La­mont, Ganim must col­lect thou­sands of sig­na­tures to ap­pear on the pri­mary bal­lot. The woman whose of­fice will be in charge of check­ing the au­then­tic­ity of pe­ti­tions col­lected in Bridge­port is Santa “Sandi” Ayala, the city’s Demo­cratic regis­trar of vot­ers.

Ayala and fam­ily mem­bers were del­e­gates Satur­day as well.

Long­time Ganim friend Po­lice Chief Ar­mando Perez had no vote to of­fer, just en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port.

“(Ganim) has the abil­ity, the knowl­edge, the ex­pe­ri­ence to make this state great again,” said Perez, who has been present for the mayor’s po­lit­i­cal highs and his lows.

Dur­ing Ganim’s first ad­min­is­tra­tion in the 1990s, Perez was the mayor’s driver. And, though never charged with a crime, it was Perez who stored ex­pen­sive wine at his home that Ganim re­ceived as part of the mayor’s pay-to-play schemes.

When Ganim suc­cess­fully asked Bridge­port vot­ers in 2015 to for­give his 2003 cor­rup­tion con­vic­tion and re-elect him, Perez — then a cap­tain — was of­ten at his side.

Some of Ganim’s del­e­gates Satur­day have less­friendly his­tory with him. Tony Barr, for ex­am­ple, is a com­mu­nity ac­tivist who, two years ago, was ar­rested for al­legedly threat­en­ing to shoot Ganim.

Barr said were Ganim to be elected gover­nor, “Bridge­port will have to be the first pri­or­ity.”

State Rep. Christo­pher Rosario was fired from his job run­ning the city’s an­tib­light of­fice by the re­turned Ganim. He said, “I’m look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture here. That was three years ago.”

Rosario of­fered po­lit­i­cally prac­ti­cal rea­sons for back­ing Ganim’s nom­i­na­tion, like get­ting Bridge­port votes for his fa­vored lieu­tenant gover­nor and at­tor­ney gen­eral can­di­dates.

And, Rosario added, “If the mayor’s seat was open, it’s def­i­nitely some­thing I’d be in­ter­ested in.”

Con­stance Vick­ers, head of Bridge­port’s Young Democrats, was also among the Ganim del­e­gates. Vick­ers has pushed for new blood and fresh think­ing in lo­cal pol­i­tics, and Ganim — and vet­eran Town Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mario Testa — rep­re­sent the ex­act op­po­site.

“The next gover­nor of Con­necti­cut needs to see the value and im­por­tance of Bridge­port … We’re treated like a stepchild,” Vick­ers said.

She said Ganim’s cam­paign, win or lose, would force that is­sue.

Testa, who was work­ing the con­ven­tion floor to cut deals for Ganim votes, re­cently said the mayor was like the son he never had. The mayor’s ac­tual fa­ther, Ge­orge Ganim, was at the con­ven­tion, too.

“It’s a dream come true, I hope,” said Ge­orge Ganim. “I have a great deal of con­fi­dence in my son.”

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