BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Waiting for dignitaries to arrive for a Monday press conference at the future site of Bridgeport’s second train station, Mayor Bill Finch gently kicked at dead weeds and tossed around stones like a restless Little Leaguer in a sandlot.
The event marked one of the last times he would stand before reporters as the city’s top official: On Dec. 1, former Mayor Joseph P. Ganim will again take the oath to lead Connecticut’s largest city.
So what’s next for Finch, who has served in one political office or another most of his adult life?
“No idea,” he told The Daily Voice. “I want to continue working in this field — in building sustainable cities. I’d like to help other cities learn how to be sustainable. I don’t know.”
After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in agricultural economics, Finch, a Trumbull native, moved to Bridgeport and ran a successful campaign for a seat on the City Council, which he held for more than nine years. In 2000, he became state senator for the 22nd District, serving as chair of the Environment Committee and majority whip.
From there, he set his sights on the mayor’s chair, which he won in 2007.
Finch has made sustainability — and his BGreen2020 project — a priority, one that hasn’t gone unnoticed: He was appointed to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Task Force and Business New Haven named him a “Green Advocate.”
Asked what he considers his greatest achievement as mayor, Finch pointed to Steelpointe, a revitalization effort decades in the making on the city’s East Side. The site’s anchor business, Bass Pro Shops, is slated to open Nov. 18, and the initiative also includes the city’s first Starbucks and Chipotle locations.
“I drive by Bass Pro Shops a few times a day just to look at it,” Finch said of the massive building visible from Interstate 95.
He also cited the Interdistrict Science Magnet Schools at the Fairchild Wheeler Campus on the Trumbull border as a highlight of his administration.
“We’ve got 1,500 kids receiving a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education,” he said with a smile.
Any disappointments? He won’t be on board as the new Barnum train station takes shape.
“I really want to see this train station built, and there’s still work to be done here,” Finch said, surveying the empty, weed-strewn lot.
“But a lot got done in the last eight years.”
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