The Rev. Charles Stallworth will be the city’s newest state representative after capturing the Feb. 22 special election to replace former Rep. Chris Caruso, who represented the 126th District but left to take a job with the state. That district encompasses the Upper East Side and a large portion of the North End.
“I am honored to be going to Hartford to represent the people of this city and I will work hard for my district,” said Stallworth shortly after hearing the results. “We (the state delegation) will work together and succeed for the city of Bridgeport.”
Stallworth tallied 473 votes, which was enough for him to earn the right to go to the State House. He was the Democrat-endorsed candidate, which touched off yet another battle between factions of the Bridgeport Democratic Party.
Stallworth was backed by Mayor Bill Finch and Democratic Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa. Caruso and state Sen. Ed Gomes, D-23rd, led an opposition coalition that backed Bridgeport Police Officer Verna Kearney, who finished exactly 100 votes behind Stallworth with 373 votes. James Keyser, the endorsed Republican candidate, rang up 82 votes.
The exact order of the finishers reads as follows: Stallworth (473), Kearney (373), Bob Keeley (191), Carlos Silva (89), Keyser (82), Mark Trojanowski (58) and Tom Lombard (34).
Keeley, who was a state representative for better than two decades, faced a difficult challenge by not living in the district. He pledged to move into the 126th if he had been victorious.
“It was a short race so there wasn’t a lot of time and we faced some obstacles,” Keeley told the Park City Independent. “But it was a lot of fun to be out campaigning again and I’ll be doing something in the future.”
Silva, who is the City Council’s president Pro Tem, may have been hampered by not receiving the endorsement of the Town Committee. Many political observers thought the endorsement was his for the taking.
“I was very surprised about that,” he said.
Other than Stallworth, Trojanowski probably spent more money than any of the other candidates, but he doesn’t regret it.
“I did spend a good deal of my own money, but it was worth it,” said Trojanowski, who purchased lawn signs and also took out four radio spots on WICC. “I had a great time. I enjoyed meeting the people and finding out what was on their minds in terms of the issues of the day.”
Lombard was running for the first time and explained that the special election was a great learning experience.
“I’ve been involved in city politics for a long time by attending a lot of meetings and usually putting in my two cents,” he said. This helped me learn the nuts and bolts of being involved in a political campaign. I’ve got a little more name recognition now, so hopefully that will help me the next time I run for office.”
Only 10 percent of the district’s registered voters cast ballots.