UPDATE: City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer has issued a legal decision with the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State in which he advises that John Weldon’s school board seat should appear on the November ballot to fill out the term ending 2019. Meyer termed it a preliminary decision pending a legal review and interpretation from the office of the state’s chief elections official. Monday morning SOTS spokesperson Tina Prakash emailed OIB, “To the extent that the city charter intersects with state election law, our office had no concerns about the city attorney’s opinion.”
Last week, retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez shared legal insight into the Weldon case with OIB. Meyer responded that he generally concurred with her interpretation of the law. The city faces uncharted territory this election cycle in the number of Board of Education seats up for grabs because of a vacancy Mayor Joe Ganim filled following the resignation of Republican Kevin McSpirit who was replaced by John Weldon. With party endorsements upcoming this month, local elections officials are uncertain if five, the traditional number this cycle, or six seats are up this November. According to Meyer’s legal review the number is six.
An excerpt from Meyer’s legal analysis and opinion:
The 4-year terms currently filled by mayoral appointees to unexpired terms (Annette Segarra-Negron and Rafael Fonseca Jr.) both expire in their ordinary course at the next municipal election occurring in November 2017. However, the 4-year term currently filled by mayoral appointee John Weldon does not expire in its ordinary course until November 2019. Since Weldon was appointed to his position by Mayor Ganim pursuant to statutory authority granted him by Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-107, such appointment is limited in duration only “until the next municipal election.” Therefore, in accordance with the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-1 (h) and the established election calendar, the BOE seat currently held on an interim basis by John Weldon will be filled by the 2017 municipal election. The person so elected then will serve the remaining two years of the 4-year term, which expires in November, 2019.
b. Political Affiliation of Person to be Elected to Serve Remainder of the McSpirit/Weldon Term
McSpirit was elected as a Republican in November 2015. Had the vacancy created by the McSpirit resignation in 2016 been filled by the remaining members of the BBOE pursuant to BPT Charter, Ch. 15, § 1 (d), then McSpirit’s replacement was required to be “a member of the same political party [in this instance the Republican Party] as the member vacating such office”.
However, the vacancy on the BBOE created by the McSpirit resignation was filled not by the BBOE, but rather by mayoral appointment pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-107. Mayor Ganim appointed Weldon who was “a qualified person” and who like McSpirit happened to be a Republican. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-219, unlike the Bridgeport Charter provision that governs BBOE appointments, does not require that the person elected in November 2017 to fill out the remaining two years of the unexpired term currently filled by Weldon be a member of the Republican Party.
c. Process for Election of Person to Serve Remainder of the McSpirit/Weldon Term
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-167a (d) provides in pertinent part that: “[I]f an unexpired portion of a term is to be filled at the same time as a full term, the unexpired term shall be deemed to be filled before the full term for purposes of applying this section.” In accordance with the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-167a (d), the unexpired term (the McSpirit seat expiring in 1112019 and occupied on an interim basis by Weldon until 1112017) will be filled by the November 2017 municipal election first, prior to the filling of any other seats for which the November 2017 municipal election is conducted.
The election for the remainder of the unexpired portion of the term currently filled by Weldon on an interim basis per mayoral appointment in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-107, shall appear on the official ballot specifying the vacancy to be filled per Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-219. This process is in accordance with prior historical practice (i.e. the 1987 BPT municipal elections) for conducting elections for unexpired terms on the BBOE. As the attached documents for the 1987 municipal election show, party nominations for the unexpired BBOE term position were conducted separate from those for the fu1l 4-year term BBOE positions. Similarly, the voting was conducted and the election results for the unexpired term were counted separately from those for the full 4-year terms.
Since: (i) the BBOE is a 9-member board, (ii) Conn. Gen. Stat. §9-l67a (a) (1) provides that a maximum of 6 members of the same political party may serve on a 9-member board and (iii) Conn. Gen. Stat. §9-167a (d) mandates that the unexpired term must be filled prior to the full terms for purposes of application of the party affiliation limitations of Conn. Gen. Stat. §9-l67a, this statutorily mandated sequence results in the following electoral outcome possibilities:
1. Democrat Wins Election to the Unexpired Term (and will serve 2 years until 11/19)
Then only 2 Democrats may fill the full 4-year term positions, because 3 Democrats already hold seats not expiring until 11/2019. The 3 positions expiring in 2019, together with the unexpired 2-year term position also expiring in 2019 (and filled first per Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-167a (dj), then will leave only 2 additional seats to be filled by Democrats to reach the maximum permitted limit of 6 positions for any one political party.
No other party would appear to be impacted by the party affiliation limitations imposed by Conn. Gen. Stat. §9-167a(a) (1).
2. Republican, WF, third-party or unaffiliated candidate Wins Election to the Unexpired Term (and will serve 2 years until 11/19)
Then only 3 Democrats may fill the full 4-year term positions, because 3 Democrats already hold seats not expiring until 11/2019. The 3 positions expiring in 2019 then will leave only 3 additional seats to be filled by Democrats to reach the maximum permitted limit of 6 positions for any one political party.
No other party would appear be impacted by the party affiliation limitations imposed by Conn. Gen. Stat §9-167a(a) (1).