Hartford Board Of Education Nominees Should Be Confirmed By Separate Vote, Council President Says
By JENNA CARLESSO
January 31, 2012
HARTFORD —— With several city council members unsure about whom they will vote for among Mayor Pedro Segarra's five board of education nominees, council President Shawn Wooden said Tuesday that he hopes to arrange individual votes for each, rather than casting one vote for all five members.
A resolution put forth by the mayor calls for a single vote on all five school board nominees. The council has scheduled a special meeting Thursday at city hall to vote on the candidates.
"I think people should have the right to vote up or down on each candidate," Wooden said. "Everyone on the council should be able to express their views with respect to each of them. Even if each one has a majority [vote] — which could be very likely — they each should be voted on separately. That's the better practice."
Along with himself, Segarra nominated four others to join the nine-member school board for four-year terms, as provided by the city charter.
Segarra's other nominees are Jose Colon-Rivas, the city's director of families, children, youth and recreation; Matthew Poland, CEO of the Hartford Public Library; lawyer Richard Wareing, a partner at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter; and Cherita McIntye, a director of executive learning and development at ESPN.
Wooden said he planned to back Segarra for the board, but he's not yet sure whether he would support the other candidates. He and others on the council interviewed the nominees last week, and Wooden said he continues to meet with the candidates for further discussion.
"I don't know where everyone is yet," he said, referring to the other council members. "Some people are still in the process of following up with appointees. Over the next few days things will be all over the place, but people generally want to be supportive of the mayor."
Councilmen Luis Cotto and Raul DeJesus said they both have not met with some of the candidates.
"I've yet to really conclude if I'm going to vote for everyone," DeJesus said Tuesday. "I think some of them are overqualified in many areas, but it's too premature to say."
Larry Deutsch, the council's minority leader, sent a memo to his colleagues Monday suggesting that they support Colon-Rivas and Poland, but vote against Wareing and McIntye. He also said he would "withhold confirmation" of Segarra.
Based on a belief in democratic government with careful checks and balances and with separation of function … I must withhold confirmation of Mayor Segarra at this time," he wrote in the memo. "I have left messages with the mayor for direct contact to discuss these decisions further, and hope you'll incorporate these considerations in your thinking." Deutsch could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Others on the council said they would back the mayor's candidates.
Alexander Aponte, the panel's majority leader, said he plans to support all five of the nominees and he doesn't want to vote on the candidates individually.
"The mayor gave us five individuals who are very well-qualified as a group and there's no need to sever the question," he said Tuesday.
Councilman Kenneth Kennedy said he also would support the candidates.
"The benefit of the doubt goes to the mayor unless the candidates are unqualified or have something in their history that makes them unfit to serve," Kennedy said. "These nominees performed exceptionally well and answered the council's questions forthright. I can't find fault with the candidates."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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