Who am I?
A native of Denver, Mary-Jane Foster was raised by her mother and grandmother. After earning an Associate Degree she moved, with $227 in her pocket, to Manhattan, where she became a professional actress. Over her 22-year career, she performed in 200+ commercials, helping to coin the tag line Please dont squeeze the Charmin and ring around the collar.
After starting a family, she began volunteering at the YWCA, where she found her voice as a victims advocate. She became a certified domestic violence counselor, volunteered as a court advocate, and served nine years on the Board of Directors including three as its chair. By 1995, Foster completed her undergraduate degree and earned her juris doctorate with honors from Quinnipiac University School of Law. She served on QUs Board of Trustees and was named to their Business Leader Hall of Fame in 2008. She is admitted to practice law in Connecticut and New York and concentrated in family law.
In addition to her work in domestic violence, Foster has worked to provide financial literacy, prevent homelessness, and open job opportunities through numerous organizations. In 2003, she was named Connecticut Post Woman of the Year and in 2006 was elected to the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame, one of only a few women to have been selected for this high honor. She is a director of Hudson Valley Bank, where she serves on the Audit Committee.
Happily remarried, Foster and her husband Jack McGregor were the visionaries behind the development of the Ballpark at Harbor Yard and the adjacent 10,000-seat arena that have created hundreds of jobs and serves as an economic stimulus for dozens of area businesses. She co-founded the Bridgeport Bluefish and engineered the concept of an arena anchored by professional hockey and world-class concerts, entertainment and national college basketball. Since 2009, she has served as vice president of university relations for the University of Bridgeport.
Foster and her husband live in Bridgeport. In addition to her son and daughter, she has four stepchildren and 12 step grandchildren.
Why am I running?
I am entering the Democratic primary as a candidate for change. Change from the party and machine politics that promote cronyism in lieu of competence, encourage ineffectiveness of government instead of open and transparent governance and hinder economic and social change in exchange for the ongoing benefit of incumbency and the politically connected. A successful reform candidate who is independent, disciplined and strong will, as Mayor, transform Bridgeport. A Foster administration will be about our residents and not back-room politics. I will work tirelessly on the issues our families struggle with day in and day outbringing jobs, building safe neighborhoods and making our children the focus of our education reform, not the victims of political expediency.
Top issue: Education
Educating our children so that they are college ready and prepared for 21st Century job is essential as we work to revitalize our city. Mayor Finch has flatlined the BOE budget since taking office and refused to work with the BOE to improve public education.
With the mayor and superintendent steamrolling parents and the public with a State takeover of our Board of Ed, it is clear that new leadership is required at all levels. I have called for Superintendent Ramos to resign to make way for new management that reflect the best practices in education. This includes a total reevaluation and streamlining of upper management, developing innovative choices for students regarding schools with a goal of creating smaller class sizes, establishing school resource centers in every school, and working with the community to involve parents in school management.
Schools are the anchor of a neighborhood and the mayor and Board of Ed need to work together to ensure Bridgeport children are receiving the quality education they deserve.
Second issue: Jobs/Taxes
The sad reality is that the only job creation weve seen in Bridgeport is for the politically connected who have been hired by a mayor who is beholden to the political process. In Bridgeport politics trumps people and posturing trumps policy. Job creation will be my focus because it drives all the essential ingredients to rebuilding a city. Tax growth leads to more revenue that funds public services, enhances quality of life, sparks community spirit, and provides discretionary dollars to support local businesses, restaurants, recreation, the arts, and non-profits. Bridgeports unemployment rate is among the highest in Connecticut and we need to focus our energies on putting people back to work.
Jobs will be created when the mayor relentlessly markets Bridgeport to potential investors. As mayor I will have an economic development department that responds to the needs of investors and developers who want to do business in Bridgeport and efficiently moves projects to completion. Job creation isnt just about attracting new investors; its also about supporting your existing businesses and connecting them with programs that strengthen their bottom line and help them stay and thrive here. I assure the people of Bridgeport when Im elected they will have a mayor and economic development director fully engaged in attracting and retaining jobs.
Third issue: Ethics/Good Government
Take a look at Bridgeport's current administration and it becomes obvious that connection trumps competence in City Hall. While you cant solve a legacy of bad decisions overnight, my administration will change course with a fresh, new approach to governing. That starts with leading with integrity, forging relationships, building consensus, truly embracing transparency, knowing where we want to go, and how to get there.
For too long weve seen the conflicts of interests that arise for City Council members who are also City employees. While a mayor cannot stop a City employee from seeking public office, a mayor absolutely can decide to never appoint a member of the City Council to a paid City position. If theyre qualified to do the job, they must resign from the City Council. You cannot have it both ways. We will have experienced department heads who know how to get things done. They will not be appointed based on the number of votes they can deliver or the amount of money they can raise.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
Our door knocking presence is the strongest example of how the Foster campaign represents a grassroots campaign. We have a dedicated group of volunteers committed to educating and interacting with voters. We learn more and more everyday about the needs of the constituency by knocking on their door and listening to their concerns. By being dedicated to personal voter contact, my volunteers and I can establish a true relationship with the constituency, one that will be an integral piece of my tenure as Mayor.
In addition to personal voter contact, the strength and makeup of my volunteers is an aspect of the campaign I am particularly proud of. Bridgeport is an incredibly diverse city and I try very hard to make sure my office reflects that diversity. Furthermore, I am running against a well financed incumbent who can afford to pay canvassers, whereas I rely on true volunteers. People who believe in my message, and wish to see change in their city. I believe the dedication of my volunteers will make the difference in my campaign.