Knock, Knock, Anyone Home? We Need You To Vote–Teachers Endorse Bags, Babs, Kelleher For School Board

Special election ballot
The special election ballot for Board of Education informs electors to "Vote For Any Three" of the candidates.

A coalition of community interests including clergy, education and social justice is urging Bridgeport voters to turn out for the Sept. 4 special election to fill four Board of Education seats the day after Labor Day. Maybe it’s time to scream from the highest point in the city (Whiskey Hill?) for everyone to step up. Isn’t it amazing how voters gear up for a presidential election but mail it in for local elections? Speaking of mailing it in we may see one of the highest percentages of absentee ballot voting for this race in city history. What’s wrong with that, at least they’re voting? Even if they’re shown how to vote? Ah, that’s another story.

City teachers have weighed in on this race. The Bridgeport Education Association has endorsed Working Families Party candidates John Bagley and Barbara Pouchet and Democrat Jacqueline Kelleher.

A lot is riding on this election for Mayor Bill Finch, Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, education advocates who like the direction of education under Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas and the state-appointed school board, as well as insurgents opposed to state control and a mayoral-appointed school board that voters will decide in November. Political supporters of the three endorsed Democrats Ken Moales, Hernan Illingworth and Kelleher say it will be devastating to the education process if the Working Families Party gains control of schools.

If John Bagley and Barbara Pouchet finish among the top three vote producers the little Working Families Party could exert enough influence to choose BOE officers as well as control votes and appoint the next school chief when Vallas, the turnaround professional, leaves at the end of the 2013 school year. The WFP already has two of its loyalists on the school board, Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka. One of the four open school board seats is reserved for minority party representation. The special election ballot informs electors to “Vote For Any Three” of the nine candidates on the ballot.

Some Democratic operatives are encouraging supporters to vote for one of the three Republicans on the ballot, former Registrar Joe Borges and husband-wife Wayne and Evelyn Hayes, to deny the WFP a minority-party spot. Ironically many of the same Democratic operatives pushed the candidacies of Pereira and Baraka to reject Republicans board spots in 2009. Be careful what you wish for. Now they regret that effort as Pereira and Baraka have worked against Finch administration interests.

See letter below from community interests also distributing flyers to educate voters about the special election.

On September 4th, the residents of Bridgeport will be given a second chance to vote for their own Board of Education. The Connecticut Supreme Court has given the people of Bridgeport the chance once again to make decisions about who will run our schools.

Bridgeport residents need to seize this opportunity! Bridgeport needs to elect a strong and effective Board of Education that brings with it a balanced and objective approach to problem-solving and a belief in and a commitment to our public schools. As a community, we must move forward. Let’s remember our common goal and focus: providing Bridgeport children the quality education they need and deserve to ensure future success.

This has been a tumultuous year filled with lots of change; with more to come. We encourage a smooth transition with the newly elected Board members and those members returning to office, for our schools and most importantly, for our students.

Bridgeport voters–show that you are invested in the electoral process. Go to the polls on September 4th and VOTE!

Pastor Anthony Bennett, Co-Chair, CONECT Executive Team (Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut)

Jane Norgren, Chair, and Mary Pat Healy, Executive Director, Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC)

Diane Brassell and Marta Calderon, Co-Chairs, BCAC Education and Early Care Task Force

Sandra Carmichael, Interim Executive Coordinator, Bridgeport’s Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI)

Carolyn Vermont, President, Greater Bridgeport Branch NAACP



  1. BEA endorses?
    Problem is they are out on a limb with this one. If turnout sucks and their candidates don’t even win on the machines the BEA looks very weak.

  2. Yes, the court has given Bridgeport voters a chance to change what Mayor Finch has done by taking the right to vote away from Bridgeport voters. I will vote for the Working Families Party candidates, John Bagley and Barbara Pouchet and Republican candidate Joe Borges. But this is just the FIRST step in getting our voting rights back, the second part is to VOTE NO on the question that will be on the ballot in November 2012, so this is a two-step process to get our right to vote back.

  3. With all due respect to all comments and those voting for the Working Families candidates … that is a good choice … if each of us who reside in the city would reach out to 20 or more voters … guess what, the WF has a chance. If all is talk (like in the MJF election) and no action, shame on us. Even though no one asked, I will be voting for the WF candidates and Hernan.

  4. So what’s up with the petitioning candidate Jackson?

    I have been following, but if there has been mention of her and her background, I have missed it. I am reticent to vote for Kelleher now because if the interactions via print media between her and the sitting members Pereira and Baraka is any indication of the flavor the relationship will take on moving forward, I see that as a counter-intuitive choice on my part. What about Illingworth? I am in need of a third, the WFP line two candidates are getting my vote and I am not going to leave the third spot blank.

      1. anna: I know Pereira and Baraka responded in an asinine manner, but the fact remains is THEY are SITTING, and Kelleher is not. I am just trying to be a realist, you know? How can we leverage our votes to make the most of the situation we already have and position ourselves for gains in the future?

  5. Zena Lu,
    I will be voting the WFP line and Joe Borges.

    I cannot bring myself to vote for Moales who apparently thinks a $200,000+/year contract with the BOE and receiving nearly 60 school readiness slots is not a conflict with his position on the board. I can’t believe this goes on and not one person in the Finch administration, the BOE or the business community thinks this is inappropriate or tolerable. Instead the BRBC throws a fundraiser for them. OIB.

    I admire Hernan and I’m sure Kelleher is an intelligent, fine human being, but I cannot bring myself to vote for anyone currently sitting on the BOE. In the face of being seated in a process that was ruled illegal, they are self-righteous, brook no dissent, show impatience and indignation when questioned and are so arrogant about their moral imperative they believe the means have totally justified the ends. By the way, we are meant to take them at their word when there is no evidence to date of their effectiveness.

    I remain outraged by this takeover and no amount of self-righteousness, proclaimed self-sacrifice or money is ever, ever going to remove the taint. Democracy does matter.

  6. The appointment of Moales was a joke and a slap in the face to Bridgeport citizens. Where was the ethics committee? Where was the council on this one? Oh yeah I forgot, they don’t know how to vote no when common sense says they should.
    This is typical of Finch and company, screw the rules who is going to stop us? This should have been handled by the city attorney’s office but I forgot, they worked hand in glove to dislodge the duly elected board. They were behind the scenes pulling the strings.
    This is no different than the Charter revision board. They had a chairperson who benefits from city work through her attorney husband yet here she is on the committee while good, qualified citizens were ignored.

  7. I’m not inclined to vote for Moales but curious about what this $200k contract and 60 positions is all about. Could someone please give me some background?

  8. Received a visit from a WFP rep this evening. Nice guy–just a note, they need to clarify their message.
    1) He tried to tell me next week’s election will impact the ability to vote on future boards. No, the election in November will impact my ability to vote on BOE.
    2) He only had a handout on his candidates and no other info than “they were not the three Democrats from the illegal board.” That is not good enough to get my vote.
    Right now, Bagley–I’m familiar with his Bagley/Walden foundation–would get my support, Kelleher and Hernan also. I do not know enough about the others but I’m not sold on the Hayes.

  9. If Mayor Finch and Mario Testa are pushing for Republican candidates for the BOE then I will NOT vote for any Republican candidates and I will still vote for the Working Families Party two candidates John Bagley and Barbara Pouchet but I cannot vote for any of the mayor’s endorsed candidates. I will do nothing to hurt any of the WFP candidates, nothing so my third vote will go to Karen Jackson.

    1. Hi Zena, here’s some background on Karen Jackson from CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck’s recent overview of candidates:

      Kids: Three sons, ages 9, 7 and 5, all attending Cesar Batalla School
      Occupation: Director of Grandparents Second Time Around, a nonprofit.
      Running as: Independent
      Active in her community, Karen Jackson has lived in the city 10 years. She called the state takeover of the school board heartbreaking. “It felt like they were stealing our rights to vote out from underneath us,” she said.
      She is not in favor of a mayoral-appointed school board. “Having one person dictate the education of our children is not something I want,” she said. “I want what’s best for all children.”
      The district she said is still lacking the transparency she thinks is needed.
      “Transparency is the key,” she said.
      If elected, Jackson said she would work to institute free summer school for all grades, work to make sure all teachers are culturally sensitive and ensure all schools are equal. “Some schools should not have curriculum and materials others don’t,” she said.

      Read more: www

  10. I am voting for Kelleher. Smart, an educator, and the continuity is important. Someone has to bridge the appointed board and the elected board. She is by far the strongest of the three appointed members. As for the other two, I am voting for Bags. I’m glad he is back in the City and ready to give back once again. My third vote is still to be determined.

  11. *** Does anyone know if Ms. Kelleher’s husband or mom works for the city of Bpt? If so, what could that mean for independent thinking and decision making? *** HOLLER ***


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