Do ethnic politics matter anymore? How about politically correct ticket balancing between gender and race? Could this impact the school board election?
Hispanics, by sheer numbers, are the new growing force in city politics. By registration, at least, they represent the single largest voting bloc in the city. State Senator Andres Ayala, Town Clerk Alma Maya, Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala, State Rep. Christina Ayala, State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago to name a few occupy municipal and state elected seats.
A lot is on the line for a September primary for Board of Education assuming the challenge slate to the endorsed Democrats submit enough certified signatures for ballot approval. Elections officials will be examining the names on petition sheets this week. Democrats currently hold a slim 5-4 voting advantage on most contentious votes over interests united with the Connecticut Working Families Party that is seeking coalition control of the school board. The WFP as well as the Bridgeport Education Association representing school system unionized workers support the school board challenge slate.
The endorsed school board slate features the Rev. Simon Castillo, a Hispanic male, Katie Bukovsky, a white woman and Brandon Clark, a black male.
The challenge slate has two black males, Andre Baker and Howard Gardner and Dave Hennessey, a white male. No Hispanics or women on the opposition slate. Does it matter in what is shaping up as a competitive primary? Or will what the candidates communicate far outweigh ticket diversity?
Hispanic children represent the largest student population in the school system.
Both the endorsed school board candidates and challenge slate have quality candidates with Castillo and Baker the best known.
Campaign operatives for Mayor Bill Finch as well as a majority of the Democratic establishment support the endorsed slate. Baker, however, has pockets of party support and an East End base from his City Council seat to bring to the table, aided by coalition forces from the Bridgeport Education Association and Working Families party.
The challenge slate, with a battle cry “Better education starts today,” will present itself as the alternative to the endorsed candidates backed by privatization advocates.
Operatives for the endorsed slate will frame their candidates as positive advocates for school progress opposing school board dysfunction fanned by the WFP.
Each side will look for an edge. Will candidate diversity be one of them?