School Board Challenge Slate Seeks Primary, Aided By Working Families Party And Education Union

Andre Baker
Andre Baker's appearance on an opposition school board slate is attracting support for a ballot spot.

A coalition of political activists including the Connecticut Working Families Party and Bridgeport Education Association that represents city school teachers have fanned out across the city to try to secure signatures to qualify a Democratic challenge slate against endorsed candidates for Board of Education. A lot is riding on this for both Mayor Bill Finch and future initiatives of Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas if the Connecticut Supreme Court overturns a lower court ruling that he lacks proper legal certification to serve.

Monday night the 90-member Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee endorsed for school board seats Rev. Simon Castillo, pastor of Good Shepherd Christian Church, who serves on the city Police Commission, Brandon Clark, a teacher with Achievement First Bridgeport Academy, and Katie Bukovsky, an education marketing professional for MDR, a Dun & Bradstreet company, active at Black Rock School.

An opposition school board slate has taken out petition sheets to hustle the more than 2000 certified signatures from registered Democrats required to run a September primary. East End City Councilman Andre Baker, former City Councilman Dave Hennessy, a retired school teacher, and Howard Gardner, an ex-candidate for City Council, are being assisted by a coalition of campaign operatives from the Working Families Party, Bridgeport Education Association and members of the Democratic Town Committee opposed to the endorsed slate. Taylor Leake, communications director for the Connecticut Working Families Party confirmed the organization is furthering the petition drive with assistance from the Bridgeport Education Association. BEA Vice President Rob Traber is a veteran of campaign petition efforts. August 7 is the deadline to return petition papers.

The WFP currently has three of its members on the Board of Education including Sauda Baraka and Maria Pereira up for reelection in November. If the challenge slate manages to win the primary it will further the WFP goal of alliance control of the school board. The BEA and WFP have worked together on a number of initiatives including defeat of last year’s ballot question calling for a mayoral appointed school board. The BEA has also been a financial supporter of WFP campaigns.

Democrats currently hold a 5-4 advantage on most contentious school board votes over members of the WFP opposed to Finch and Vallas.

Former City Council President Lisa Parziale and former State Senators Ed Gomes and Ernie Newton announced their support for Andre Baker for school board at the convention Monday night. They will be helping the challenge slate. Baker’s name was placed into nomination but support for endorsement came up short. Baker, a critic of the Finch administration from his council seat, has added prestige to the primary quest. He brings a base of support from the East End where he also operates a funeral home.

The nine-member school board will have a new look following the November election. Incumbent Democratic school board candidates Tom Mulligan, Leticia Colon and Bobby Simmons are not seeking reelection. Beleaguered Bridgeport Republicans will try to win back the two minority-party representation seats they lost to the WFP four years ago.



    1. Fluck: They are not just Republicans. Pay attention to the posts on the blog before you make a snap judgment. Read. Read. And read.

      And may I add they are not just Republicans? Oh, did I? Oh.

      So do you think you can make a difference? Why not get on their mailing list?

    2. Around four years ago, Sauda Baraka was a Republican for many years serving on the BOE. The Republican Party decided not to nominate her for another term. Baraka was welcomed by the WFP who partnered her up with Maria Pereira who went and blindsided the Republican Party with a stunning defeat for two BOE seats. The other Republican who served on the BOE was Cunningham who voted to dissolve the BOE and was aligned with Finch. His (Cunningham’s) term was over by the time the court overturned the state takeover of the BOE. The Democratic Party didn’t or most likely would have not backed Pereira, Baraka, even some long-time Democratic Party loyalists have difficulty getting an opportunity to get a party endorsement. If the Democratic Party doesn’t endorse me as a Democrat and WFP and/or the Republicans offer their support on a primary or election, why would I refuse or reject them? Oh yeah, I gotta be a “Party Loyalist” and wait my turn.

    3. Fluckarella,
      CW4BB is comprised of members of several political parties as well as independents like myself. We will support people based on their qualifications, character, and commitment to a set of key principles. I fully expect we will support some Democrats, Republicans and Working Family candidates. It’s all about the person and not the party.

  1. The only time anyone is worth anything to the Democratic party in Bridgeport is if they are willing to give up their freedom to choose, think and speak. If you won’t be their “puppet,” you can’t be part of the show.

    As a grown-up, I prefer an adult performance filled with many “different” performers with diverse roles. Also, I’m not thrilled about having someone’s hand shoved up my a**. And YES, I’m a Democrat.

  2. What I find surprising in regards to Ken Moales’ acts of denying and preventing other elected BOE members from speaking, is the fact none of them have taken these violations to court. Freedom of Speech is something Moales obviously knows nothing about. The worst part is not once has the City Attorney stepped in to explain to Moales he is committing a serious violation by refusing to allow other BOE members to speak and be heard by the general public. As a BOE member, I would not allow any member of the BOE to trample free speech. Democrats who don’t believe in Democracy?


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