A guide to Bridgeport’s very important Nov. 7 election

Bridgeporters vote. Photo: Connecticut Post

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, residents will hit the polls and vote on City Council and Board of Education candidates, and decide on a library referendum. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The 2017 municipal elections will be instrumental in Bridgeport. Here is a breakdown:

It's a good idea to get familiar with the ballot you'll be looking at once you're in the booth. Download a sample ballot for the Bridgeport elections.

If you do not know if you are registered to vote, you can click here.

If you want to know where to vote on Election Day, click this link from the CT Secretary of State's Office.

The library referendum

The city's ballots lead off with the referendum question, 1. "Shall a one thirty hundredths (1.30) mill tax be levied to operate a free public library and reading room?"

The city’s two state senators, Ed Gomes and Marilyn Moore, are urging voters to pass the referendum increasing the amount of money City Hall has to give Bridgeport’s libraries.

The referendum asks voters to back or reject altering the library funding formula, which doesn't raise the tax rate, but mandates the city to set aside some of its tax income for the library system.

That formula — based on the city tax rate — was established in 2009 and it has generally served the libraries well, ensuring around $6 million in taxpayer dollars is available annually.

But a recent $1 billion loss to the amount of taxable property — the so-called "grand list" — reduced the library board’s budget by just over $1 million.

Board members have argued that the formula change, which is expected to increase the budget by around $2 million, is needed to move ahead with three new libraries in the East Side and East End and to support the existing branches.

“Our libraries are critical to the quality of life of all Bridgeport residents. I urge you on November 7th to vote ‘yes’ to keep our libraries funded and open,” Moore said in a joint statement with Gomes.

Gomes said: “Libraries are a safe haven for our children and a learning center for everyone of all ages. Stand with me and vote ‘yes’ to keep our libraries open.”

“This would increase our (library system's) budget to about $7 million. (And) this is the one area where people have the ability to say how they want their tax dollars spent," said Library Board President Jim O’Donnell.

Library advocates point to four reasons why voters should say "yes" to the referendum.

1. Restore prior level of service – staff, hours and materials.
2. Pay the debt service (interest) on the bonding needed to build three new libraries.
3. This is not a tax increase. It merely gives Bridgeport voters the opportunity to say how they wish the city to allocate a small portion of its overall City budget.
4. All registered voters can vote on this question.

Learn more about the drive to keep the city's libraries fully funded.

Board of Education

Voters could shift control of the city's school district.

Six of the nine Board of Education seats are up for grabs Tuesday.

Nine candidates are vying for five, four-year seats, and a separate special election to fill the remaining two years for a board member who resigned.

In the four-year race, voters can select three candidates, and the top five vote-getters will win. Candidates include: Democrats Jessica Martinez, Hernan Illingworth and Chaila Robinson; Republicans John Weldon, Chris Taylor and Joseph Sokolovic. The Working Families Party has endorsed Howard Gardner, Shavonne Davis and cross-endorsed Sokolovic, so his name appears on the ballot twice. Sara Lewis, a petition candidate, is also running.

Weldon and Gardner are the only incumbents seeking re-election.

The two-year race pits Democrat Sybil O. Allen against Republican James A. Carbone.

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