In front of more than 50 friends and supporters at the Holiday Inn, former Bridgeport Bluefish owner Mary-Jane Foster officially announced her candidacy for mayor of Bridgeport saying, “My name is Mary-Jane Foster, I am running for mayor and make no mistake about it: I am in this race to win it.”
Foster’s entry into the race comes as no surprise. She had formed an exploratory committee that was extremely active prior to the official declaration. Foster had thrown several fundraisers that yielded better than $50,000 and also hosted numerous meet-and-greet sessions throughout the city. She was the only potential mayoral candidate to cast a presence in the special election to replace former state Rep. Christopher Caruso in the 126th District as she and her campaign workers remained visible at the polls the entire day.
The Foster campaign has also released numerous statements in recent weeks, most of which were severely critical of Mayor Bill Finch’s administration. Among the criticisms Foster leveled at Finch were the mayor’s request to delay contributions to the city’s pension fund; the city’s need for $30 million in interim financing through tax anticipation notes; and appointing City Council members to city jobs without first requiring them to resign their position on the council.
The last criticism is directly aimed at Finch’s appointment of veteran City Councilman Bob Curwen (D-138th) to a “temporary” position with the city’s engineering department. Curwen, who is co-chairman of the Council’s Budget and Appropriations committee, promised to resign from his elected position in February, but has not yet done so.
Foster is one of four candidates who are definitely running for the city’s top office. All four are Democrats and will be squaring off in a primary in September. Along with Foster, incumbent Finch, activist Charlie Coviello and Bridgeport businessman John Gomes have all thrown their collective hats into the ring. They may not be the only four candidates on the Democrat slate, however.
Former Mayor Joe Ganim has cleared up his remaining legal obligations from his federal prison sentence and has publicly flirted with the notion of running, and political activist Tom Lombard has said he is also considering jumping into the fray. Former Mayor John Fabrizi has opted not to run, and despite saying he would not run after being appointed to a position in the Malloy administration, there is speculation that Caruso may yet re-enter the race.
At her formal announcement to run, Foster touted her vast business experience. An actress by trade, she earned her law degree and opened a practice concentrating on family law. The Black Rock resident is currently the vice president of University Affairs at the University of Bridgeport, but is probably best known as being one of the original founders of the Bluefish.
“One of the great joys in life is accomplishing what naysayers insist can’t be done. A baseball stadium and arena? In Bridgeport? ‘You’re crazy,’ they said,” Foster recalled to her audience at the Holiday Inn. “Well, they were wrong. The Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment Complex that is home to the Bridgeport Bluefish and world-class entertainment is one of the great joys of my professional life. I’m proud that we created over 140 permanent jobs, 90 percent of which are held by Bridgeport residents. The Bluefish alone have pumped approximately $40 million into our economy alone and 12 years later the ballpark and arena bring more than 500,000 visitors to our city each year.”
In making her first remarks as a declared candidate, Foster blasted Finch continuously without using his name.
“The sad reality is the only job creation we’ve seen in Bridgeport is for the politically connected who have been hired by a mayor who is connected to the political process,” she said. “Four years of a lot of talk and no action. Four years of misplaced priorities and missed opportunities. Four years of taxpayers being squeezed by higher taxes and higher unemployment. This administration told you they would cut your taxes by $600 only to raise them. The mayor claims victory with the latest budget, saying he’s cut spending. He hasn’t. He has simply put off spending by not paying his bills.”
As for her priority if elected, Foster explained she had one top priority.
“Job creation will be the focal point of my campaign message because it drives all the essential ingredients to rebuilding a city,” said the candidate. “Jobs will be created when the mayor relentlessly markets Bridgeport to potential investors.”