The tide continues to turn in Bridgeport’s Board of Education challenge slate wins big
The Connecticut Post made the story clear as they began their primary coverage with the news that,
“The Democratic machine lost its grip on the city school board Tuesday with the stunning victory of all three challengers in the primary.
The challenger slate won by a two to one margin over the party’s endorsed slate, easily winning in all districts, in unofficial and incomplete results.
Andre Baker Jr., Howard Gardner and Dave Hennessey received 3,409 votes, 3,284 votes and 3,308 votes, respectively.
“This is what Bridgeport needs,” Baker said. “We need some diversity. We need some change. It just goes to show you that although people may look at the low voter turnout, the people who were fed up came out. And I just hope this movement encourages more people.”
… “This is just icing on the cake,” Gardner said. “I see this as a victory for the city of Bridgeport because I think a lot of people have been disillusioned and disenfranchised.”
The endorsed candidates – Simon Castillo, Kathryn Bukovsky and Brandon Clark – collected 1,977 votes, 1,917 votes and 1,862 votes, respectively. The endorsed slate won among absentee ballot voters, but it was not enough to overtake their opponents’ victory at the polls.”
In many respects the primary was really a referendum on the education reform efforts of Governor Malloy, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas.
The three endorsed candidates were supporters of Mayor Bill Finch’s failed attempt, last year, to change Bridgeport’s City Charter to do away with a democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by Finch. Simon Castillo was the chairman of the political action committee that spent a record amount in the failed referendum campaign and Brandon Clark, a teacher the charter school, at Achievement First – Bridgeport, essentially served as one of the referendum campaign’s spokesman.
The reputation of the existing majority on the Board of Education, including its chairman, Kenneth Moales Jr. and their support for Paul Vallas was a driving force behind the challenges
For many, the primary served as the next logical step following the successful effort to bring a lawsuit ousting Paul Vallas as Bridgeport’s superintendent. As a result of the law suit brought by former Connecticut Judge Carmen Lopez and her co-plaintiff, the Superior Court determined that Vallas lacked the qualifications to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent. Thanks to upwards towards $100,000 in taxpayer funds, Vallas is appealing the ruling and the Supreme Court will be hearing the case later this month.
In the meantime, the pro-public education, anti-education reform industry movement is now positioned to take control of the Board of Education following the November general election.
Should that happen, Vallas’ days in Bridgeport are over, regardless of whether he is removed by the courts or by the democratically elected members of the new Bridgeport school board.