Baker Sides With Baraka For School Board Leadership

Update, Baraka has the votes

Citing her experience, incoming Board of Education member Andre Baker who ran on both the Democratic and Connecticut Working Families Party line says he’ll support Sauda Baraka for school board chair. The school board with five new members will select officers at an organizational meeting in December. Democrat Dave Hennessey has also expressed interest in the board chairmanship.

Some looked to the affable Baker as a compromise candidate for school board chair, but work demands operating funeral homes in Bridgeport and Norwalk caused him hesitation. Baraka was first elected to the school board as a Republican in 2005 and then reelected running on the Working Families Party line in 2009 and again on November 5th.

With the support of Baker and John Bagley, who was elected to the school board on the Working Families Party line in a special election last year, Baraka needs just two more votes to replace Ken Moales who’s not seeking a return as chair and would be hard-pressed to secure the five votes necessary even if he wanted it considering the new makeup of the board with the insurgent Democratic/Working Families Party coalition control.

Hennessey, a retired teacher, has strong alliances with leadership of the education union the Bridgeport Education Association. Baker, Hennessey and Howard Gardner won election this month on the Democratic line. Joe Larcheveque won a seat on the Republican line.

In addition to Moales, Democrats Jacqui Kelleher and Hernan Illingworth are also holdovers on the board.



  1. The first step in the hijacking of our school system by the teacher’s union-backed bloc of WFP and primary-winning Democrats (WFP in disguise) board members. A sad turning point for the Bridgeport Public School System.

    1. If you or the other Republicans had run an effective campaign you might have a voice on the BOE. The “hijacking” as you call it was an open and fair election. Perhaps you preferred the hijacking by the reformy privatizers when the BOE was disbanded and converted to an appointed board?

  2. *** JW, in my opinion if the GOP would have run a “team concept” election instead of a “personal individual candidate campaign, where most candidates were not really known by the educational community, etc., things “might” have been a bit different in the overall outcome! Anyhow it’s not time to start crying foul or pitching sour grapes on the loss, it’s time to keep notes on what positive changes will be coming forth and seem to work with time and support or not. This way in two years if the political itch is still in need of scratching, you’ll have plenty of do & don’t notes to “maybe win” your next go-’round, no? ***

  3. *** Besides, even though Ms. Baraka in the past at times seemed more of an obstructionist in her approach towards dealing with the Supt. or admin. issues in general, the fact she does have the experience through her seniority on the board alone makes her a good choice for BOE chair. Let’s hope maybe now BOE meeting agendas can be started and finished in a timely manner with positive results! *** ONE NEVER KNOWS, DO ONE! ***

  4. All BOE member must face the fact Sauda Baraka has the experience necessary to lead the BOE. What prior BOE experience did Mrs. Bellinger (she quit), Ken Moales (he struck out) and Jacqui Kelleher (she gave up the leadership role to Moales) have? The coalition must stay together and not allow anyone to break it.
    Baker, Hennessey and Gardner MUST become active and even secure a spot on the upcoming Democratic Town Committee. This is the group of Democrats who didn’t even give them the time of day to be heard and considered for the role the coalition fought for and delivered to them. The BOE will not be successful unless they have the full backing and support of other elected leaders who will stand and fight together with the board against anyone who denies our children a fair level of education funding. The current status quo will do everything to make the new majority on the BOE fail so they can regain control in the near future. There will be no effective new BOE without an effective new DTC.

    1. Joel Gonzalez and Mojo, you guys make some real great points on why Sauda Baraka should be President of the BOE. It was sad Jacqui Kelleher gave up the leadership role to Moales. I think Rev. Moales was overwhelmed with issues I hope he has gotten worked out because he does have the ability to do more but he got caught up too much being a politician and following whatever Mayor Finch would tell him instead of challenging the mayor on the takeover of the BOE. I hope Rev. Moales proves me right.

      Yes, Baraka’s experience through her seniority on the board alone makes her a good choice for BOE chair but also her road to the BOE, first elected to the school board as a Republican in 2005 and then reelected running on the Working Families Party line in 2009 and again on November 5th is also good experience.

  5. Baker or Hennessey. Baraka may have the experience, but with that stunt she pulled right before the election, which stunk to high heaven, I am doubting she has the judgment.

    1. Bond Girl,
      Sauda’s participation in the process with the principal resulted in a definitive solution, maybe not the desired solution for most. However if Sauda recused herself or abstained from voting, that principal would be working today without any oversight or discipline. The voting would have been a tie without her vote.

  6. Mojo and flubadub,
    I, actually, was the lone Republican candidate who kept pressing for a unified Republican ticket and lobbying against us three campaigning as individuals. I am on record at town committee and candidate meetings as having been a proponent of a team effort and opposed to the individual campaigns. My running mates, however, simply would not do that–which is their prerogative–forcing me, by default, to have to run as an individual as well. I have no sour grapes. Given what I just stated, I knew what the outcome would be and I think it went as well as could be expected and I’m okay with that because I campaigned as best I could given this obstacle. However, it does not change the fact the teacher’s union has created a bloc which is going to systematically work more in the interests of a union than in the interest of the city’s youth. So, instead of the Board being controlled by the Mayor’s Office via Chmn. Moales, it will just be controlled by the union who paid to get this bloc elected via a new Chmn. Baraka. I have made similar statements about this bloc previously (as part of my campaign before the election–some of those statements here on OIB) and am now pointing out what I predicted previously is now coming true.

    1. John,
      No one has commented here on behalf of the Republican party. I cannot do that as I have been unaffiliated in recent times and before that was recorded as a Democrat for more time than the couple times I changed to primary for a specific candidate.
      Anyway, why has there been silence about Republicans? Of course, that is part of the problem. The message the DTC has foisted on much of the local voting public has been so negative to Republican candidates, voters in the 2011 Democratic primary (let me repeat, this was the Democratic primary) asked which was the Republican line (so that they could avoid it). When they were told there were no Republican candidates BECAUSE IT WAS A DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, they looked at me in disbelief. Bridgeport truth.

      So challenge Democrats won this year and even two lonesome Republicans were elected this year. Is the electorate getting smarter? Did more people come out to the polls in certain neighborhoods to tip the balance? Did active door-knocking candidates with additional supporters get the word out about change sufficient to sway the basic pro-status quo block? Think about it and re-branding.

      What does the DTC stand for in the mind of an average citizen/voter? Can anyone tell what the local Republican party advances? Is it important to the voter, or is the message from the actual candidate in the face of local times and reality the central branding question? Do voters spend much time thinking about why a young connected State Rep appears in the local papers? Or why a Council person is sanctioned more than once for election infractions? How does any of this represent a branding opportunity or challenge for a party? And just what is the brand meaning of the new party on the block? Working Families Party … let’s see, I work real hard and I also have a family … that being said, they don’t seem to be reaching out to me with a message … they have used court suits tactically … but I don’t hear a coherent message about City governance or money matters, do you? Time will tell.

  7. John,
    A little premature in your assessment, aren’t you?
    You are assuming Howard Gardner is on board with Sauda. Lennie did not report that to be the case. Is this simply because of the comment he made at the BOE debate the Republican candidates were offended by?
    Lennie did report Dave Hennessey is interested in becoming Chairman of the Board. I too have heard this. So you are assuming the BEA would be happier with Sauda over Dave? That seems like quite a stretch for me if the fix is in.
    Can you share with us the thought process your fellow Republican Joe Larcheveque is currently going through since you seem to know so much about the Dems and WFP members?
    And please don’t forget Sauda is a registered Republican in Bridgeport.
    And finally, if the fix was in when the Democratic challengers won the primary, what were your plans if you and Joe won? Supporting Rev. Moales? Supporting Ms. Kelleher even though she had previously served and said she could not make the time commitment that is necessary to continue on as Chair? Supporting the other incumbent who has been accused of having a conflict of interest with some of his votes and actions on the board?
    If you are so good at reading other people’s minds it should be a snap for reading your own.

  8. Sauda Baraka has the votes to be the next Bpt BOE chair
    Wednesday, November 27, 2013 by: Linda Conner Lambeck
    BRIDGEPORT — Five members of what will be the new city school board come December 1 have issued a joint press release pledging to support Sauda Baraka as the next board chair.

    Baraka, a member of the Working Families Party, won re-election last month. She will be the longest serving member of the incoming board.

    She has been an active and involved parent advocate for more than 20 years.

    Those saying they will support Baraka include Jacqueline Kelleher, Hernan Illingworth and John Bagley, all returning members on the board, along with Andre Baker and Howard Gardner, both Democrats who won seats on the board after they were successful in a primary in September.

    “I am eager to begin a collaborative relationship with this new board, under Ms. Baraka’s leadership, Kelleher said in a prepared statement. Kelleher is a Sacred Heart University professor who first came on the board as a state appointed member. She later won a seat after the state appointed board was ruled illegal.

    The school board has nine members altogether. The other three include incumbent Kenneth Moales, and newly elected members Dave Hennessey–both Democrats and Joe Larcheveque–a Republican. Hennessey was also thought to be interested in running as chair.

    In the press release, the five members said the vote signaled a need to unify the new board and provide a sense of direction and support.

    The press release states:

    “We do not minimize the challenges that we will confront as members of the Bridgeport Board of Education. Those challenges include the selection of a new permanent superintendent of schools. We are confident that Sauda Baraka, in her new role as board chair, will approach every issue in an open, collaborative fashion. She will value and respect the views and input of every board member, and we look forward to serving on the board which she will lead.”

    The press release goes on to say that Baraka is excited and looking forward to working with all members of the new board.

    “I will do everything in my power to place the board’s focus where it belongs, on the public school students and parents of Bridgeport. The board must focus on policies, not personalities.

    “The education of our children must not fall victim to petty political intrigue,” Baraka maintained. “As chairman, I will make a concerted effort to work with every member of the new board in order to realize the progress which I am confident that we all desire.”

    1. I really hope not. I just don’t think she is the right person for the job.

      Most of the time I am not this steadfast in my convictions. I will listen and agree everyone has a right to see things through their own personal lens.

      I am standing on this one. Baker or Hennessey. Not Baraka.

  9. Hi Bob,
    I do not think it premature, as Mr. Gardner was actually a part of the joint press release issued along with Jacqueline Kelleher, Hernan Illingworth, John Bagley, and Andre Baker culminating in today’s story in the CT Post “Sauda Baraka has the votes to be the next Bpt BOE chair” by Linda Connor Lambeck. Mr. Gardner’s “monolithic” comment is ancient history–we all know what he meant by it, he attempted to backpedal (but not own up to it and apologize for it), cementing his true sentiments–they are what they are and I accept that.

    I do not think the BEA would be happier with Sauda than Dave–but they have spent more money getting Sauda elected over time than they have on Dave, making Sauda the most beholden to them, and hence, the one they have the most leverage over.

    I am not a mind reader, Bob, but I know what I have watched at every BOE meeting I’ve attended, which is Sauda and Maria Pereira effectively holding temper tantrums until they get what they want. That is not effective leadership and it is not “standing up for the little people”–it is bullying plain and simple. Now, that behavior will be finding its way to the Chairmanship of the BOE.

    Last, my own feeling was that, if we three Republicans had gotten elected, ideally the issue of domination of the Board could have been rendered moot, as we would have comprised 1/3 of the Board, along with, hopefully, three WFP and three Democratic members–which would have resulted in no one faction controlling anything (which is the root cause of the Board’s dysfunction) and would have resulted in members being forced to exchange dialogue and reach true compromise–which is what it’s all about, Bob.

    1. Not if they are well organized, Ron. There are only 500 (roughly) registered WFP members in Bridgeport, yet they now dominate the BOE. It’s all about organization and the smart deployment of it.

  10. John Weldon, I for one would love to see a strong Republican Party in Bridgeport and I am a Democrat but it will NOT happen. You have no message for inter-city youth, the working poor and the struggling middle class in Bridgeport. Perhaps you can tell me where in America are Republicans doing well in an urban city. The Republican Party in Bridgeport carries with it the problems of the national Republican Party, anti-unions, voter suppression, pro-big business. Try doing an outreach to those who do not look like you.

      1. Mr. Weldon, I wish you the best in the Republican Party going, because Rick Torres is not the answer. Remember, you had Sauda as a member of your party but you guys didn’t want her.


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