From the City Charter:
No person while holding office as a member of the city council shall be a member of any of the boards of the city …
Let’s reminisce about the future. The two candidates running on the Working Families Party line in Tuesday’s special election for Board of Education, John Bagley and Barbara Pouchet, finish among the top four vote producers, which shifts the balance of power on the board to the WFP. Elected board member Leticia Colon, a Democrat, is also a member of the City Council. Legal minds (paging City Attorney Mark Anastasi) are examining if the City Charter prohibits her from holding her legislative seat and school board position at the same time. If she cannot, what seat would she relinquish? The City Charter calls for sitting school board members to replace a vacancy. Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez who’s working in earnest on behalf of the Working Families Party could end up on the school board if the WFP prevails to control the balance of power. That’s exactly what operatives of Mayor Bill Finch want to avoid.
A few years ago, the Democratic Town Committee rejected Lopez’ overture for an endorsement in her quest for a school board position in favor of Colon. Lopez did not run a primary. Carmen, once a member of the DTC, has waged war against the party since her retirement from the state bench, the very party that aided her appointment.
Carmen is smart and cunning and brings expertise to the table about Connecticut law. She’s also a mercurial personality who’s been a toothache to the political establishment that did not embrace her return to the political process. Carmen is not a suck up. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa says Carmen forgot about the peeps who supported her bench appointment.
So a lot is on the line in Tuesday’s special election. The Connecticut Supreme Court invalidated state control of city schools and called for an election to fill four school board positions. The Supremes also ruled the elected school board will be reseated following certification of Tuesday’s results by elections officials.
The five elected school board members whose terms have not expired are Leticia Colon and fellow Democrats Tom Mulligan and Bobby Simmons as well as WFP members Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka. Pereira, Baraka and Simmons had generally voted in a bloc against the majority board that voted for state intervention in July of last year. If Bagley and Pouchet are elected on Tuesday the little WFP will be in a position to control the majority and select replacements should vacancies occur, as provided by the City Charter. That’s a nightmare in the making for supporters of Finch who say Lopez, Pereira et al. are obstructionists with their own agenda to control city schools.
The three Democratic candidates in Tuesday’s election, Jacqueline Kelleher, Ken Moales and Hernan Illingworth, are all members of the state-appointed board. City electors can vote for any three of nine school board candidates. One of the four open slots is reserved for minority party representation. Will it be a WFP candidate or one of the three Republicans, former Registrar Joe Borges or husband-wife team Evelyn and Wayne Hayes?
But if Bagley and Pouchet both manage to win just imagine the possibilities. That’s something Finch supporters are working hard to avoid.