A former Bridgeport mayor who spent at least seven years in federal prison after being convicted of 16 counts of corruption, announced Wednesday that he will be running for mayor again and said he is hoping voters will give him a second chance.
Democrat Joseph Ganim has filed papers to enter into the race against incumbent mayor Bill Finch. Ganim will formally launch his campaign on May 14, according to a news release.
"My campaign will be about building a Bridgeport that works for every citizen and every neighborhood," Ganim said in a statement. “This election is about how we give every Bridgeport resident a chance for a better life. I believe Bridgeport deserves a Mayor focused on creating jobs, lowering taxes, improving schools, revitalizing neighborhoods, and creating a Bridgeport that works for everyone."
He said that Bridgeport is a comback city and he's looking to make his comeback.
"Knowing all the good things we did while I was mayor and then some of the things that were not perfect," Ganim said. "On the ones that were certainly less than perfect, the mistakes, I want the opportunity to make them right."
He said he's spent the last few months talking to hundreds, if not thousands, of residents and said he thinks he can improve the quality of life in the city he used to lead.
“Now some may want this election to be about the past — but I know the people of Bridgeport want this election to be about them — their future — and about electing the candidate with the vision and ideas to build a stronger and better Bridgeport,” Ganim said, "After listening to residents throughout the city, I am humbled by the overwhelming favorable reaction. I will work tirelessly to make our streets safer and cleaner and find ways to reduce the tax burden on homeowners. I will drive the dramatic reform necessary for government to work better for every neighborhood.”
Ganim served as Bridgeport's mayor from 1991 until 2003, and was in his fifth term in 2001 when he was indited on 16 counts of corruption related to steering city contracts in exchange for lavish gifts, cash and home improvements for himself. He was convicted, losing his license to practice law in Connecticut and spent seven years in prison.
Ganim is apologizing to voters about what he calls "serious errors of judgment" during his time in office and said that he is ready to move on and take on Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.
“I love the people of Bridgeport. We have been through a lot together — both highs and lows," Ganim said. "I have learned some very tough lessons. But because of these experiences, I will be a better person and will be a better Mayor."
Regarding Finch, Ganim didn't mince words, calling the administration mediocre. He said he's not afraid to take him on and said he's ready for a fight, but it will all come down to what the voters decide.
"Everybody should have a choice to come out and vote and in this instance come out and vote for who is going to lead their city," Ganim said. "If they’re happy with the status quo, which I believe is below par, mediocrity, then they can support that."
In response to his announcement, Finch's campaign manager Maryli Secrest said, "Joe Ganim is a corrupt politician who spent seven years in prison."
"His criminal activity has already cost the people of Bridgeport more than a hundred million dollars," Secrest said.. "Ganim's failed investment scheme and sweetheart investment deal on the waterfront set us back years. We’re confident voters will come to the same conclusion jurors did: Joe Ganim doesn’t belong in the Mayor’s office.”
He is also focusing on his self-proclaimed accomplishments as mayor. His campaign credits him with getting Bridgeport out of bankruptcy, balancing city finances and taxes, bringing in economic development like Harbor Yard, reducing crime, spearheading projects to rebuild schools and having a part in the creation of new parks.
He said that he plans to spend the months leading up to this summer's Democratic nominating convention meeting with voters and figuring out ways to lower crime and taxes in Bridgeport. A member of his staff said that if he's not able to get the Democratic nomination, he'll try to get on the ballot by gathering enough signatures from voters.
"Bridgeport has such great potential," Ganim said. "Let’s create a stronger, more inclusive Bridgeport. Let’s find solutions to tough problems together. This is why I now ask our residents for their vote for Mayor this summer.”