Who is John Gomes? (Asks Joe Ganim)

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim (Credit: Joe Ganim)

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To the Editor:

In lieu of the dirty political tactics we typically see at the national level, I have focused my campaign message on the positive things that my administration has done to make life better for Bridgeport residents. But the future of Bridgeport is at stake in this election and it’s critical that the voters understand the truth about their choices when they vote on January 23rd. Mr. Gomes has presented a false narrative about himself and the kind of person that he would be as Mayor. So here is the truth about John Gomes.

The Truth about John Gomes

John Gomes was hired twice to work for the city of Bridgeport. He was first hired and fired by former-Mayor Bill Finch and then given a second chance by me. We both have acknowledged hiring him was a big mistake. It would be an even bigger mistake if the voters hired him to be our city’s mayor in this upcoming Special election on January 23rd.

People have asked me, “Why did you hire him?” and “Why was he fired?”

In 2009, while John Gomes was a political appointee of then-Mayor Bill Finch, he was arrested after a drunken tantrum when Bridgeport police had to respond to a late-night party that he was hosting at the Cape Verdean Club. The officers were forced to arrest Mr. Gomes and, in response, he touted the position of authority that he held with city government. He verbally threatened the arresting officer’s job, telling him, “watch what happens to you on Monday,” implying that he would abuse his power of authority to reprimand the officer.

This led to Mr. Gomes’s arrest and subsequent dismissal from the Finch Administration. Notably, Mr. Gomes never apologized for his abuse of power. Instead, he looked to settle the score, launching a revenge mayoral campaign against Mayor Finch that was ultimately unsuccessful.

“Hatchet Man” and nepotism

After several years had passed and being a true believer in second chances, I hired John Gomes in 2015. It was not long before I was deeply disappointed. Within a matter of months, Gomes earned the moniker “the Hatchet Man” for ruthlessly terminating numerous employees, driven by personal vendettas. In hindsight, Gomes was the wrong person to entrust as the Acting Chief Administrative Officer.

Other abuses of power started to come to light over time, such as Gomes having all of the city hall security cameras displayed on a large screen in his office so that he could spy on employees. And then I learned that he secretly got his daughter hired in the Bridgeport Police Department, among other family and friends, without my knowledge. This nepotism was the straw that broke the camel’s back. As a result, I demoted him and brought in a new Chief Administrative Officer.

While notably upset with my decision to demote him, Gomes remained at city hall. After demotion, Gomes was tasked with projects ranging from homelessness, public safety lighting and blight issues. Unfortunately, Gomes failed miserably at delivering results for the people of Bridgeport.

Soon thereafter, it came to my attention that Gomes had several confrontational incidents with other city employees. Due to his inability to be effective coupled with his egregious behavior, I eliminated his position and fired John Gomes.

John Gomes is bad for Bridgeport

Fast forward to today, John Gomes with his cadre of cronies —many of whom also have a storied past with the city – have once again launched a revenge campaign for mayor.

This time, trying to sell Bridgeport voters on a message of “change.” But here’s the reality:

Gomes says that he would end nepotism in city hall, and yet nepotism was a major reason I demoted him.

Gomes says that he would be an effective manager, and yet he has been fired twice for failing in his leadership positions.

Gomes says he would be a Mayor for the people, and yet he abused his power both times he worked for the city and earned a reputation for being someone who created a toxic work environment, especially for women.

Gomes says that he would be an “agent for change,” and yet his plan is to bring back a host of disgruntled former employees to fill important roles in his administration. His entire campaign has been orchestrated by John Ricci who was pushed out of my administration after an FBI investigation into scrap metal sales and recently cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars due to sexual harassment lawsuits. This is who John Gomes thinks should run city operations.

Even through the pandemic and challenging times, Bridgeport is experiencing a resurgence. Things are moving in the right direction for our city and its residents and Bridgeport’s best days are ahead of us. Mayor Finch and I both fired John Gomes. I’m urging Bridgeport voters on January 23rd not to make the mistake of hiring him again.

Joe Ganim
Mayor and Candidate for Mayor