One week from Tuesday city voters will fill four Board of Education seats in a special election ordered by the Connecticut Supreme Court after it invalidated state control of city schools. This event is an intriguing appetizer–albeit important to the makeup of the school board–to the general election in November when city voters will decide if they want to continue with an elected school board or support Mayor Bill Finch’s proposal to appoint members via a charter revision question.
The Democratic candidates for school board are Ken Moales, Hernan Illingworth and Jacqueline Kelleher, all three members of the state-appointed Board of Education. The Dems are being challenged by three Republican candidates, former GOP Registrar Joe Borges and husband and wife Wayne and Evelyn Hayes as well as Working Families Party candidates local basketball legend John Bagley and Barbara Pouchet, active in city education issues. Karen Jackson is running as a petitioning candidate. City electors can fill in the ovals of up to three of the nine candidates. The top four voter producers win. One of the seats is reserved for minority party representation. The elected board will be seated upon certification of the results by elections officials.
Campaign operatives say the special election turnout, the day after Labor Day, will be challenged to hit 10 percent. If Bagley and Pouchet win, the Working Families Party will be in position to control the school board, something campaign operatives for Mayor Bill Finch want to avoid. The Working Families Party has two of its members on the elected school board, Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka.
Absentee ballots could decide this special election. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa is leading an absentee ballot operation on behalf of his candidates. Roughly 300 absentee ballot applications are circulating, according to Town Clerk Alma Maya whose staff will be in overdrive working Saturday and Labor Day to administer the AB process.
On September 4, the night of the special election, an informational forum organized largely by opponents of a mayoral-appointed school board will take place from 6 to 7:30 at the North End Branch library 3455 Madison Avenue.