NewCanaanite.com recently received the following letters. (We will publish letters of endorsement for the 2021 municipal election through Sept. 30.)
I am privileged to write this letter in support of Hugo Alves’ candidacy for the Board of Education.
I have known Hugo and have worked closely with him for twelve years. I find him to be intelligent, energetic, ethical and fully committed to every task he undertakes. He is a very successful wealth management advisor and a devoted family man. As a financial planner, he has a deep understanding of finance and a remarkable ability to work with people when dealing with complex financial matters.
Hugo has been a leader in our profession. We have worked together on the Government Relations Committee for our firm and with FINESCA, the industry support organization for financial services. In all capacities, he is an inexhaustible worker and quick to volunteer for any worthwhile task.
I see Hugo through the eyes of someone who has served the citizens of New Canaan for ten years as a member of the New Canaan Exchange Club and for seven years as an elementary school teacher in Darien, CT.
Because of these characteristics of competency, character and commitment to public service, I recommend Hugo Alves for the Board of Education without reservation.
Donald A. Bowers
To the Editor:
While flattered to be compared to an Olympics gymnast by Laurel Van Hooser, no physical or mental contortions were needed in analyzing the post-caucus comments of the Republican BOE slate; like Will Rogers, “all I know is what I read in the papers.”
In re-reading NewCanaanite.com’s detailed caucus coverage, I am again struck by the vitriolic defensiveness of the candidates: “I for one am tired of playing defense,” “They have forced many of us into hiding,” and “They control the media, social media, Hollywood, higher education, public and private education, corporations. Literally everything.”
Really? News flash to the Republican BOE Candidates: You are in charge! You outnumber Democrats in town two to one! For decades you’ve controlled the chairs and two-thirds of the seats on the Board of Ed, the Town Council, the Board of Finance, the Board of Selectmen and virtually every other town Board and Commission! New Canaan Republicans trying to pass themselves off as besieged victims and a persecuted minority is deliciously ironic bordering on absurd; you do, however, get points for your perfect alignment with the resentment politics of the Republican National Committee.
Nor are gymnastics required to question what “enhancements” might be in store for our curriculum. Julie Toal “can’t turn on the news without hearing how we need critical race theory and mask mandates” and sees “a showdown right now between science and common sense.” These sentiments would be perfectly at home in Florida and Texas (which backed off its attempt to prohibit teachers from suggesting the KKK might be morally challenged but did succeed in making any classroom reference to the Pulitzer Prize winning 1619 Project illegal).
Not making it up, folks, Google “Texas SB 3.”
“Active oversight of the curriculum” has been invoked by fringe groups for more than a century, to keep religion in classrooms and evolution out, replace “slaves” with “workers” in textbooks, and frame the Civil War as a philosophical battle over state sovereignty instead of slavery. So let’s get past vague platitudes like transparency. Precisely which areas of Niche.com’s No. 1 ranked school district’s curriculum demand your immediate aggressive oversight? Could you elaborate upon your thinking that science and common sense are somehow opposed, and what changes are therefore recommended to the STEM curriculum? Following Texas’s lead, what books and media incorporated in the current curriculum do you think should be banned from New Canaan’s library and classrooms?
The Republican BOE candidates are quite understandably trying to pivot from the messaging to their base that got them elected at their caucus; today it is all smiles and collaboration. Their caucus acceptance speeches, flush in victory and raw with emotion, paint very different pictures of the candidates’ true priorities and positions. The Democratic BOE candidates didn’t just suddenly show up when vaccines, masks and Critical Race Theory became things; they have demonstrated through years of service and commitment on PTCs and town bodies that they can work rationally, collaboratively and productively across the spectrum on the meaningful local issues that improve our schools. They have earned our support and our votes.
I am writing in strong support of Hugo Alves, Dan Bennett, Phil Hogan and Julie Toal, Republican candidates for the New Canaan BOE. They are young, energetic and highly knowledgeable individuals that have years of leadership experience in volunteer work with children combined with strong academic and professional accomplishments. All of them have kids in New Canaan schools for years to come and plenty of skin in the game.
Hugo, Dan, Phil and Julie on multiple occasions clearly and eloquently stated their policy positions. These positions are focused around bringing more transparency to the budgetary and academic functioning of our school district, and allowing for greater communication with and feedback from families into the decision-making process. They suggested new, more inclusive and highly effective formats for the BOE meetings, like holding town-hall style discussions on policy changes that encounter greater obstacles in consensus building, such as we witnessed with changing school start times. These types of policy changes in the past have resulted in a significant number of parents feeling aggrieved and disconnected from the decisions affecting their children.
One might think that it’s tough to argue with these candidates’ calls for greater transparency, and it wouldn’t be a tenable position to advocate for keeping parents in the dark about any of the aspects of the system in which their kids spend half of their waking hours, but one would be wrong. Astoundingly, the BOE candidates from the Democrat party argue on their respective podcasts that since our kids have great test scores, there is no need to trouble ourselves with curriculum or any other “highly technical” details that are clearly over our heads, and that decisions are best left to the professionals who need their “intellectual freedom.” They claim that for the past 20 years we’ve enjoyed great results, so there is nothing to be gained from looking under the hood. In my personal and professional experience, being told there is nothing to see has been a huge red flag that requires my immediate attention.
In an ironic twist, Hugo, Dan, Phil and Julie have all been accused of playing politics and attempting to interfere with apolitical nature of the BOE, which is preposterous, considering another aspect of their position is ensuring that political agendas stay out of the classroom. So are we to understand that acquiescing to politicization of the school curriculum makes BOE apolitical and expressing objections politicizes it?
There is, however, another, even more troubling aspect to this race, and that is a personal smear campaign waged against the Republican candidates, they’ve been called vile names and had their statements purposely twisted to spread defamatory claims about their character on social media and in the press. To date, no statement of personal nature has been made about any of the candidates on the Democrat side in any public forum, Republicans view this November election as a battle of ideas, not mud wrestling.
The only way to make a sound decision on an important race such as this one, is to be informed, and Hugo, Dan, Phil and Julie have been eager to speak to the people in town at the meet the candidate events, the transfer station, flag football on Saturday mornings, Saxe soccer later on Saturdays, football on Sundays, hockey rink, dance studio on Forest St. etc. Come meet these great candidates and vote to elect them to the BOE in November.
I am writing this letter in support of Julie Toal, Dan Bennett, Phil Hogan, and Hugo Alves, Republican candidates for the New Canaan Board of Education. I am a New Canaan resident for 18 years and a New York City school teacher for 18 years. During my time in New Canaan I have been active in our town politics and have met many candidates over the years. I am truly excited to support this hard-working, energetic slate. They all have children in our public schools and bring a variety of skills to the board. In their campaign, they have been working hard to gather input from parents, teachers, and other residents about what is working and not working in our schools. They are open to hearing from all of us and will work to ensure that politics stay out of education here. I have spoken to all of them about issues in public education, curriculum, changes and challenges in education, and I know they are very knowledgeable about the challenges we face in our schools in 2021. Please join me in supporting the Republican candidates for Board of Education on November 2nd.
Mary Anne Mercogliano Marcella
To the Editor,
I am writing in support of the Republican candidates for the Board of Education.
Hugo Alves, Dan Bennett, Phil Hogan and Julie Toal are a dynamic slate that will bring energy, enthusiasm and new ideas to the Board of Education. They are focused on protecting our schools as one of New Canaan’s greatest assets and delivering the best educational experience for all of our students. These are not politicians; they are concerned parents moved to run for the Board to make sure that all perspectives are heard and that changes to the operation of the schools and to the curriculum are made with due thought and care.
As parents of young children, they are heavily invested in the school district and bring the perspective of elementary and middle school parents which has been missing from some of the discussions at the Board level. They are committed to improving the communication and transparency around changes, providing oversight of the Administration and ensuring accountability on behalf of the town’s taxpayers.
On November 2nd, vote Row B for Board of Education.
[Editor: Comments are disabled on this post. More info here. We will publish endorsement letters through Sept. 30.]