BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — They may have supported different candidates — or none at all — but one thing united Bridgeport residents a day after Democrat Joseph P. Ganim’s landslide win for mayor: No one’s surprised.
“I think it was expected that Ganim would win,” said Shelly Schultz, shopping in the Family Dollar Store on State Street. “There aren’t too many Republicans in Bridgeport. (GOP hopeful) Rick Torres wouldn’t have a chance.”
Ganim, an ex-convict who was mayor for 12 years before a corruption conviction landed him in federal prison for seven years, won about 55 percent of the vote over Torres, a businessman and City Council member, and Mary-Jane Foster, a University of Bridgeport vice president who ran as an independent Democrat.
Torres’ daughter, Kait Torres, was busy taking down the “Fed Up? Wake Up!” campaign sign bearing her father’s likeness at Harborview Market, a neighborhood hub her parents have run for decades in the city’s Black Rock section. She had campaigned with her dad and found what she saw on the streets unsettling.
“The feeling of disconnectedness was really disturbing,” she said. “People only seem to think back 15 years instead of thinking back to when Bridgeport was actually booming.”
Voters don’t seem to see past party labels in the largely Democratic city of about 145,000, she said.
“Republican or Democrat is all they’re thinking of,” she said. “Not decent government vs. indecent government.”
Patty Arbelo, who stopped in for coffee Wednesday, hugged Torres’ wife, Michele, who was back in the market's kitchen Wednesday morning.
“He’s mayor of Black Rock,” Arbelo said of Torres. “He loves what he’s doing, and he loves people, and he’s honest.
“I believe in second chances, but how can (Ganim) pick up where he left off? Look where he left off!” Arbelo said.
Gloria Little, who was also shopping at the Family Dollar Store, said she supported Foster because she didn’t trust Ganim.
Foster “hasn’t done anything wrong yet," Little said.
“Fool me once but don’t fool me twice,” she said. “But I’m hoping it will come out good.”
Carlos Muniz and Tasha Hughes spent part of the sunny day relaxing in Knowlton Park on the city’s East Side. Neither had bothered to vote in Tuesday’s election.
“For me, they only care about the rich people. They don’t care about us,” said Muniz, who said he doesn’t trust any politicians. “They all steal and rob. I don’t care if they’re black, white, Puerto Rican, Chinese. … They use people like us to get in the chair and then they forget about us.”
Both said they aren't expecting much from the Ganim administration, but they do hope the new mayor addresses violence in the city.
“I think because crime is centered around youth, it’s so, so sad,” said Hughes. “He needs to focus on the youth. And the guns, the guns, the guns…”
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