Hartford Democrats Nominate Candidates For School Board Race
Elizabeth Brad Noel of Working Families Party Will Not Seek Re-Election
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
July 23, 2013
HARTFORD — The city's Democratic Town Committee has endorsed three candidates for the fall's school board election, when four seats will be open for four-year terms during a crucial time for Hartford education reform.
Board members will help choose a new schools chief to replace Superintendent Christina Kishimoto next year after the board recently decided not to extend her contract. One longtime member, Elizabeth Brad Noel of the Working Families Party, said Tuesday she will not seek reelection.
Regarding school reform, "to change direction right now ... would be a very unwise move," said Beth Parker, 34, a research scientist at Hartford Hospital and a faculty member in health sciences at the University of Hartford. She received the Democrats' formal nomination at City Hall Monday night with 48 votes.
Parker, the mother of two students at Mary Hooker Environmental Sciences Magnet School, added that she wants the district to put more resources into low-performing neighborhood schools "that are consistently struggling."
Craig Stallings, 40, a city native who owns a tax service business, received 45 votes for a spot on the slate and said, "You really can't raise the quality of life for people if they don't have a decent education." Stallings also has children currently in the city school system.
Michael Brescia, 78, who taught at Bulkeley High School for three decades before teaching adult education until several years ago, had 36 votes in his favor during the nominating convention. A minimum 29 votes were needed, said Marc DiBella, the Democratic town chairman.
"I've seen education from the inside and I want to be out there and help in Hartford," Brescia said.
There are four elected members on the nine-person board whose terms expire this year, including Democrats Lori Hudson and Luis Rodriguez-Davila, who did not seek party endorsement for reelection. Political and board associates of Rodriguez-Davila have not seen or been able to reach him in months — his usual phone numbers were disconnected — and believe he may have moved to Puerto Rico.
Board Secretary Robert Cotto Jr. of Working Families said Tuesday that he will seek his party's endorsement for another term. Cotto, 31, expected the formal nomination process to be completed by mid-August.
But Noel, the board's longest-serving member, said she has decided "it's just time to step back." Noel first joined the board in 1993 when it was nonpartisan, and later was elected as a Democrat. She received the 2009 endorsement from Working Families for her latest term.
"People will probably still hear from me," said Noel, 82, a former head of guidance at Weaver High School. "We're going to be looking at a new superintendent. I can still stay involved in some things."
Michael McGarry, chairman of Hartford's Republican Town Committee, said his party will not nominate anyone for the board election.
"We had a very good candidate who we thought was going to run, but he had too many other responsibilities," McGarry said Tuesday. "We'll leave it to the Democrats to take their seats ... or the Working Families Party. We're disappointed, of course, that we didn't get the candidate we wanted, but you can't force anyone to do it."
McGarry noted that Republican Richard Wareing sits on the board as one of Mayor Pedro Segarra's five appointed members. "The board seems to be, ideologically, pretty Republican anyway," said McGarry, referring to majority support of the citywide school choice program.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at