Democrats maintain control of Stamford school board
STAMFORD — Democrats will maintain majority power on the city’s Board of Education, according to unofficial numbers from the Secretary of the State.
Democrats easily took home three seats while Republicans won one spot. In total, nine candidates vied for four open spots on the board, which oversees Stamford Public Schools.
Josh Fedeli, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, was thrilled by the margin of victory for the Democratic candidates.
“These margins are unheard of. We haven’t seen margins like this in a very long time,” Fedeli said in a speech delivered at the committee’s headquarters on Summer Street Tuesday night.
Two first-time school board candidates — Democrat Jack Bryant, 63, and Republican Eva Maldonado, 53 — competed in a special election for a one-year spot to finish off the term vacated by Democrat Betsy Allyn, who resigned from the board in September due to a family move. Bryant, who recently resigned as president of the Stamford chapter of the NAACP, came out ahead with 8,231 votes to Maldonado’s 5,432.
A longtime Stamford resident and Westhill High School graduate, Bryant promised he’ll advocate for and provide more resources to those on the lower half of the achievement gap and students of color. A retried Stamford police officer, Maldonado, said she’d work to improve the social and emotional environment for Stamford students if elected.
“I’m feeling great,” said Bryant, after the unofficial results were announced. “I’m ready to get to work. I want to thank all the people who supported me this year.”
The only incumbent Democrat up for re-election, Jennienne Burke, 55, handily won a second three-year term on the board with 8,146 votes. Burke works for Aetna CVS Health and in her first term worked to define college and career readiness as a goal in the district’s strategic plan and helped secure funding for a new position of district coordinator for college and career readiness and school counselor services.
Burke said she was “relieved and excited” by the results.
“It was a quiet year,” she said. “I think it was a chance to hear the public’s view on education and what concerns them most.”
First-time candidate Dan Dauplaise, 34, earned 7,650 votes and took home the Democrat’s third spot with a platform of instituting more foreign language classes for English speakers and better English learning programs for children who speak Spanish or another foreign language at home.
“The party won,” Dauplaise said. “We worked a tremendous election and communicated that we’re the party of hard work.”
Although he won more votes than any of the Republican candidates with 7,428, Democrat Fritz Chery, 31, did not earn a spot due to the board’s minority representation rule, which stipulates no more than six of the nine members may belong to the same party.
Nonetheless, Chery was in good spirits on election night.
“This has been an amazing experience,” Chery said. “I love the city even more now and you will not see me disappearing into the wind.”
Chery, a 2006 graduate of Stamford High School, founded Stamford’s Grace Daycare & Learning Center and said he’d work to boost Stamford’s extracurricular activities, which he said have waned since his won high school days.
The partisan makeup of the board did not change following the election, maintaining five Democratic seats and four Republicans. Democrat Antoine Savage chose not to run for re-election.
The sole Republican incumbent, Nicola Tarzia, 56, won back his seat, taking home the party’s only seat Tuesday night with 5,180 votes. Tarzia owns a real estate development and general and mechanical contracting company, Tarzia group, and on the board he’s sought to direct more funding towards Stamford Public Schools, specifically for capital expenditures after more than half of Stamford’s 21 schools that were found to have mold last year.
Even though he kept his seat on the board, Tarzia was disappointed in the results for the Republican side of the ticket.
“We need more of an even turnout on the Republican side,” he said. “I wish, obviously, that the Republicans did better overall.”
First-time Republican candidates
A career educator, Hamman ran on a platform to bring her two decades of experience as a teacher, administrator and educational consultant in service of the city’s Board of Education. Feeney, the head of innovation in the U.S. for a local investment bank, campaigned to enhance students’ access to and training around technology.
Green Party candidate Rolf Maurer received 700 votes.
Staff writer Angela Carella contributed to this report.