‘Politics on the Post Road’ begins in Bridgeport

(Photo: WTNH)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH)– With the first presidential debate Monday night, we are heading out to find out what is on the minds of Connecticut voters.

News 8’s Kent Pierce is traveling to five communities along the shoreline all week. He is talking to the breakfast crowd in diners along Route One and Monday morning’s stop is White’s Diner in Bridgeport.

The Post Road ties together the shoreline, but a lot of these cities and towns don’t have much else in common. For all the wealth of Greenwich and Darien, in Bridgeport, the median household income is 28,000 less than the state average, and close to two thirds of the city is made up racial minorities.

Related: Debate Night: Clinton, Trump set for high-stakes showdown

The Post Road rolls through more than two dozen towns on Connecticut’s shoreline. White’s Diner first opened on Route One more than 80 years ago. Vincent is a regular there, even though he can’t see the menu any more. He started working at age 16…

“I went from plumbing, electrical wiring, contracting, sheet rocking, dry walling, painting, cook, mechanics,” said Vincent Muse, Bridgeport.

But when glaucoma took his sight, finding work became a lot harder.

“Who’s hiring me? Where’s my chance? I go to a federal program. They have one for disability for the blind. I heard from the person one time. I don’t hear from them no more. They gave me a booklet to read, right? I’m legally blind!” said Muse.

He wants a fair shake for the disabled. John says his big issue is the future of the supreme court.

“I don’t think it should be one way or the other too much, but I think if it’s too much on the liberal side it would be a problem for the country in the future,” said John Mori, Westport.

Fanny wants better treatment for veterans, like her husband, and for the current military.

“We’ve got to protect the ones that are serving now, and their families,” said Fanny Muse, Bridgeport.

Just a couple blocks from Route 1 is Mount Aery Baptist Church, where Pastor Anthony Bennet has a simple message for his congregation.

“Just do your part. Vote. Vote your conscience, but vote,” said Pastor Anthony Bennett, Mt. Aery Baptist Church.

But, he says, Donald Trump’s campaign has made race relations anything but simple. Trump tried reaching African Americans at a Detroit Church.

When asked if Donald Trump were to come and say to him, that he’d like to speak at Mt. Aery, A: would Bennett let him speak, and B: what would he ask him. Bennett replied, “At this point, no I wouldn’t let him.” Why not? “Because he has demonstrated a sense of disingenuousness.”

Pastor Bennett said he would have a conversation with Hillary Clinton, and both candidates would be welcome to worship at Mt. Aery, just not to speak. Meanwhile, other national trends worry the congregation here.

“There’s a lot of volatility as it relates to violence, both with police actions as well as within the community,” said Bridgeport resident Terry Walden.

There are also environmental concerns, like the water in Flint, Michigan.

“Because it’s impacting communities of color and so, for me, that makes me wonder, well, what are the long term effects of these issues,” said Rev. Porsha Williams. “How does it affect people who are going to develop cancer or who have asthma?”

Whether it’s the church or the diner, everyone is concerned about the economy. Bridgeport Resident Mike Barber spent year working in a factory, and just recently retired from the Postal Service.

“Jobs. We’ve go to get jobs for the people,” said Barber. “That’s the big issue in this country.”

Warren Cooper of Bridgeport has spent the past 20 year working in social services, where the budget keeps getting slashed.

“Correctional programs have been cut, mental health programs have been cut, because of lack of funding,” Cooper explained. “My biggest concerns is that the politicians get on that.”

Vincent Muse, holding his long white cane, would just like to feel like politicians have his back.

“I’ve been working hard, doing what I have to do, I turn around and there’s no one around,” said Muse.

With those concerns in mind, folks in Bridgeport and all across Connecticut will be glued to their TVs tonight for the first presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. We will bring you more Politics on the Post Road tomorrow in Milford.

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