Mary-Jane Foster is getting close to the cycle: First it was Marilyn Moore, then Charlie Coviello, now John Gomes and Ernie Newton. If you count state Sen. Ed Gomes, Charles Walsh and a few other community leaders, including Howard Gardner, you can very well say she is working toward the cycle — she just needs to beat incumbent Mayor Bill Finch in the Sept. 13 primary. Then she will face independent candidate Jeff Kohut in November general election.
Close to 50 people gathered in front of City Hall Annex on Monday, Aug. 8, to listen to Gomes’ speech announcing he was joining Foster’s campaign. If she beats Finch in the primary and Kohut in the November election, she will become the second woman to be elected mayor of the most populous city in the state.
Carol Ann Curry, the first to join Gomes in his quest to become chief executive of Bridgeport, was there too. This time she was not on Gomes’ side — she withdrew from his campaign a week earlier. Thus, she has not announced publicly joining Foster’s campaign, but she seemed very supportive of Gomes’ move as she applauded from the crowd.
It was the senator of Cape Verdean descent, Ed Gomes, who opened the press conference. He said, “We are going to have a great mayor. We are glad John Gomes joined us. More people will come to us because of John. Thank you, John,” he said.
John Gomes, who is also of Cape Verdean ancestry, said, “It’s great to be here. Thanks to all of you for coming and showing support.” He thanked his wife, Janet, and four daughters for their support during his 13-month campaign journey.
Mayor Finch named Gomes director of the Citistat department several years ago. He was fired after being arrested in connection with a disturbance at a Bridgeport social club last year, but Gomes claimed it was because he was trying to find answers to irregularities within the department. Citistat combs through data to find ways to make government more efficient.
“We are two reform candidates — and I don’t want to split the votes,” he told the crowd. “That’s why I am joining forces with Mary-Jane. We both want transparency and share the same vision,” he said to the applause of onlookers.
Foster said she has high regard for John Gomes, who displayed a positive campaign while he was in the race. With a smile, she said “It’s time for change” and constantly turned her head to make eye contact with the audience.
Asked whether her administration would employ members of the City Council, she said, absolutely not. “That is a conflict of interest.” She was referring to six Council members who hold positions paid by the city.
Foster also said she will appoint people from the community to city boards and commissions. “We don’t need to have the same people running city affairs. We have close to 150,000 residents in the city.” She said her administration would utilize all the potential available in running the city.
Mary Moore, who also recently joined Foster’s campaign — and until a few weeks ago was Gomes’ campaign manager — saluted him for his decision. She closed the ceremony with a prayer for all the candidates, including Mayor Finch.