When the Board of Education meets for its organizational meeting December 9, it will have five new members to select a new chair. Working Families Party member Sauda Baraka and Democrat Dave Hennessey are trying to line up the votes for leadership among the nine members.
Baraka, the senior member of the school board, is trying to leverage her longevity for the top spot. She presumably brings along the support of John Bagley, the other WFP member on the school board. Republican Joe Larcheveque squeezed out the WFP for the other minority-party representation spot in the general election. Larcheveque could well be a swing vote in the election for a school board chair.
If Hennessey, a retired teacher with strong union leadership backing, secures the support of the two other winning Democrats in the general election, Andre Baker and Howard Gardner, he starts with three votes. Where does he go for two more votes? Larcheveque and Hennessey both live in Black Rock with common voter support from the neighborhood. In fact, one-third of Larcheveque’s entire support election day came from one voting precinct in Black Rock, the beneficiary of the high profile City Council race that galvanized voter interest. Baker, however, also ran on the WFP line in the general election. Does he have split allegiance?
That leaves three other Democrats on the board, the current chair Ken Moales, Jacqui Kelleher and Hernan Illingworth. How will they vote? Moales and Baraka have butted heads on numerous issues, they’re not exactly the best of buds. But is a piece of Moales saying hey, you want the job you got it, live it up? Kelleher, a professor at Sacred Heart University, occasionally broke from Moales and Illingworth to vote with Baraka. Could Baraka secure Kelleher’s vote? What will Illingworth do?
Could a compromise candidate such as Baker emerge? Stay tuned.