Mayor Joe Ganim of Bridgeport, Connecticut, will be one of thousands of elected officials from across the country in Washington D.C. Friday to witness the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
This is despite the fact that many of his fellow Democrats, including some members of Congress, are boycotting the swearing-in of the Republican president.
WSHU’s Senior Political Reporter Ebong Udoma spoke with Mayor Ganim before he left for Washington, and then sat down with Morning Edition Host Tom Kuser to talk about what he learned. Below is a transcript of their discussion.
Ebong, why does Ganim feel the need to be in Washington for the inaugural?
Tom, Ganim was in Washington this week attending the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s annual meeting. He was there with several other Connecticut mayors. Most left after the conference, but Ganim is staying on to witness Trump’s inauguration. He told me it’s out of respect for the office.
It’s certainly a personal honor to go to the ceremony, but also I think it’s being a part of it, trying to be at the right place at the right time over the next four years for the city. And if there’s going to be a commitment to expenditures in infrastructure, I want to have my ear to the ground of being at the right place at the right time for Bridgeport, and this is one of those opportunities that I think I should be there if I could.
‘The right place at the right time for Bridgeport.’ That’s interesting. Ebong, didn’t Trump have a business connection to Bridgeport in the 1990s when Gamin was first mayor?
Yes, he did. Trump owned the old Jenkins Valve factory building in the South End of the city for a number of years in the mid-1990s. He had wanted to build some kind of entertainment complex there, but it never materialized. The site is now the city’s Harbor Yard baseball stadium.
So does Ganim think Trump will help Bridgeport because of his familiarity with the city?
He seems to believe so. Here’s what he told me.
Certainly the president-elect, as a businessman, saw the opportunities that were here. Some time ago when he was here he bought property here, he had plans for development here, we developed a working business relationship there. But I got to know him as well, so I think that that will help in hopefully developing a relationship with the new administration. I’m not going to be shy or bashful about what I ask for the city of Bridgeport or putting together ready-to-go projects for the next administration.
I’m sure by “ready to go,” Ganim must be talking about infrastructure development projects?
Yes, he his. And you know that’s also the hope of state officials. They feel because Trump’s a builder and developer, he might be able to count on federal help for infrastructure.
So they feel the Trump Administration will reach out to get stuff done in Connecticut, even though he didn’t win the state and lost by a 4 to 1 margin Bridgeport?
That’s the sense I get. Here’s what Ganim told me.
You hear a lot of rhetoric during campaigns. I’ve participated in dozens of campaigns myself, and certainly there’s rhetoric before election night and then there’s policy afterwards. My hope and best estimation is that the policy afterwards is more tempered on all sides, that the extremism can be avoided and that we’re able to participate at a local level with state and federal partners to improve the country and our section of it, the largest city in Connecticut.
He sounds quite optimistic.
Yes, he does. We’ll see how much that optimism is justified when the Trump administration lays out its agenda. In the meantime, Ganim can expect some flak from some of his supporters in Bridgeport’s Latino and African-American communities when he gets back from Washington. You know they’re not happy to see their mayor trying to score points with Trump. Marilyn Moore, an African-American state senator who represents the city told the Connecticut Post she’s not going to forget this, and she won’t let her community forget this either.
Thank you, Ebong.