Voters in Bridgeport, Connecticut elected as their next mayor an ex-convict who spent seven years in federal prison after being convicted on 16 corruption charges.
Democrat Joe Ganim, 56, had served as mayor of Bridgeport – the state’s largest city – 12 years ago, from 1991 to 2003, when he resigned after being convicted of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals and companies in exchange for sending city contracts in their direction, the New York Times reports.
Since he was released from prison five years ago, Ganim has worked as a legal assistant at his family’s law firm in Bridgeport, though he has not been able to have his law license restored.
Ganim defeated Mary Jane Foster, a University of Bridgeport administrator who lost in the Democrat primary but filed a petition to get on the ballot.
According to the Associated Press, Ganim released a public apology for his actions earlier this year. His campaign was driven largely by nostalgia for “the good old days” when Bridgeport had lower taxes and safer streets.
“Tonight, we not only made history, but we defined a new course for this great city,” Ganim said during his victory speech. “Of course, there’s an element of redemption in all of this.”
Eddie Moro, a security employee in the public school system, said he has no problem with Ganim’s criminal record.
“He didn’t kill nobody,” he said. “He didn’t rape nobody.”
“It’s not that Ganim is such an engaging rogue,” writes managing editor of the Journal Inquirer Chris Powell. “It’s that Bridgeport is such a morass of poverty, welfare, drugs, crime, and political patronage that people are so demoralized or so corrupted themselves that corruption even on Ganim’s scale doesn’t bother them.”
Some Bridgeport voters said, “Ganim didn’t steal from us,” not understanding that the city policy he sold to contractors had indeed been theirs. That many Bridgeport voters considered Ganim a better mayor than his successors only emphasized the city’s decline and the comprehensive failure of Connecticut’s urban policy, which has done no more than feed the government class while worsening the poverty it supposedly was alleviating.
Registered Democrats in Bridgeport number about 42,000, followed by 15, 400 unaffiliated voters and 3,600 Republicans.