19 thoughts on “Election 2021: GOP Retains Control of Board of Ed; Dems May Launch Challenge [UPDATED]

  1. Are comments really allowed? Am I dreaming this?

    This season was historically ugly, and I was repulsed by topline messaging as a whole: duplicity and false boogeymen coming from the Republicans, needless scaremongering from the Democrats. In future years, I hope we’ll learn to hold campaign managers to higher standards.

    But the real loss, if these results hold, is the loss of pure talent. Elections are job interviews, and as electors, we need to listen to the substance of the conversation. That takes time, not shortcutting to the party line. What experience do these candidates have? How respectfully and productively can they engage with other people? Do they understand the basic remit of the job, and are they excited to fulfill it?

    To answer those questions, I was so impressed by Janet Fonss, Fatou Niang, and Jenn Hladick in particular. I’m sorry to see a close race not land in favor of the best people for the job. But I know enough, after seven years in residence, not to expect pure objectivity in New Canaan.

    How this talent loss bears out on test scores and real estate values will be a fascinating show. Perhaps, at the very least, New Canaan parents will learn how to do their own homework.

    • Yes we’re opening the comments.

      Now that the election is over, there’s no chance that certain readers will try, as at least one elected official did today, to manipulate the site to their own political ends.

      I’ve had opportunity during the campaign and especially in the past week and Election Day itself, as panic appeared to set in for some of those who struggle to think for or express themselves, to block the trolls from our site as well as my email and phone, ban them from our Facebook page and otherwise direct them away from the New Canaanite—there are some people that we simply do not want as readers.

      I’ll miss them in a way—each of their emails, texts and comments submitted to the site or social media has confirmed for me that we’ve covered this election correctly and responsibly. It also validated our decision in August to disable comment threads on election-related articles—a blow to trolls who seek to leverage such areas for their messaging. I wish them the best in trolling elsewhere.

      I agree, Laura, with your observations on the ugliness and falsehoods that some fostered in the run-up to this election. I think the majority of New Canaanites see clearly through that type of distraction, and I hear that some of the town’s most notorious pariahs have been banned from large social media forums such as Facebook Moms. With this election over, we hopefully now will hear more from those voices of reason, and will be better prepared the next time the shills try to manipulate their neighbors.

    • I am glad comments are re-enabled however, I certainly see Mike’s reasoning behind disabling them prior to the election. It appeared many trolls found other venues in which to vent their opinions and hearsay, but appreciated the New Canaanites decision not to help fuel the vitriol.

      Although I enthusiastically endorsed Dan, Julie, Phil and Hugo I also encouraged people to listen to the podcasts, go to candidate websites, read up on their platforms and watch the debates. To try to tune out the politicking and rumor mill, especially when it was not from the candidates themselves or the town party.

      As for loss of experience, I believe Penny is currently the 5th highest BOE vote getter and will have a seat at the table. Did any of the other candidates have BOE experience? I certainly appreciate the work that the PTA does, but I think the remit for that job is not the same as that of the BOE and being on the PTA should not guarantee a seat on the BOE. At the end of the day the PTA experience of the Dem candidates was considered but a clear and consistent message of greater parental inclusion won out.

      In terms of dedication and engagement these new BOE members have spent the last 6 months literally speaking to 100’s and 100’s of people in our town (it might actually be 1,000’s). They were engaging our community at every opportunity including door to door. Erica Schwedel was the only Democratic candidate that bothered to speak to many of us and showed up at a few homes that I know of personally. She was engaging and seemed genuine in her desire to improve the process. I, along with many I know, are happy that she will be on the board.

      As for the remit of the BOE job. I think understanding that the BOE should work FOR parents and WITH the Administration is the view that resonated with me and many others. If these new BOE members approach their new roles with this perspective than I believe we can have the best school district for our town.

      Good Luck to all the newly elected officials. We are rooting for all of you.

  2. Fantastic news. New Canaanites democratically voted to keep the BOE in the hands of locally led Republicans, which for decades have established and enhanced our schools’ academic success. In particular we have parents on the BOE who actually have kids in our schools instead of partisans attempting to push agendas

    • Well stated. Congratulations to the newly elected members. I look forward to their fresh perspective, knowledge and expertise on the BOE and the transparency they will bring to us parents. They have worked tirelessly to date and will continue to do so to benefit our children and our town. Let the work begin.

    • Agree on that. GOP candidates have their skin the game, each having four to three children aging from elementary to preschool. They have selfish interest to keep the system top-notch long term.

      • Come on. Aging from elementary to preschool? The Democrats had kids in all levels of our system. BTW, we do not have a public preschool.

        • Actually NCPS does have a public PreK program for 3 and 4 year olds https://www.ncps-k12.org/Page/5631. For some reason people don’t highlight it – it is very good and it has a waiting list by the way, and entrance has been by lottery. Unfortunately its start time has not been coordinated with the new Public school start times which is silly, as many people have kids going to preK programs and Elementary schools. I encourage the new BOE to look more into this program and see how it can be expanded and also synced up more with the existing K-12 program.

          • Giacomo,
            Thank you for that information.

            However, it is interesting to note that although it is called “NCPS Preschool Program”, it is not free, as one would expect from “public” school.

            According to the website, the preschool is located on the West School Campus with the following tuition fees:

            The tuition for the threes program is $5,250 for each child for the 2020-2021 school year and $5,300 for the 2021-2022 school year.

            The tuition for the four/fives class is $5,900 for each child for the 2020-2021 school year and $5,950 for the 2021-2022 school year.

            A non-refundable deposit of $250 is required to hold a spot for accepted children to secure a space in the class.

        • Thank you for you reply Toddy.

          My point here is that id you have kids in elementary, your perspective is long-term. 10 to 12 years. You are less likely to support decisions that bring only short-term advantages, while adversely affecting the things further down. On my experience, when you have junior / senior kids in high school, you think more about colleges, than schools. Among the democratic 4-year term candidates only Erica Schwedel has this kind of long-term perspective. Plus two-year term candidate Karen Willet. Fatou Niang and Penny Rashin don’t have school age kids at all.

          The average family size of GOP candidates also appeals to me. They all definitely love to have kids. And on my opinion that’s more important than experience or competence in such bodies as BOE. After all, we have professionals in schools. BOE should represent public, not professional, point of view.

          But then again, it’s just my opinion. I don’t try to convert you or something.

    • All of the people on the Democratic BOE slate have or had kids in our schools. Our slate also included parents of kids in the high school, an age group not represented by the other group.

      • I think Igor is making the point that these new BOE members will be looking out for all grade levels and the long term future of our system. Not that other candidates would not, but that these new members have a greater incentive to do so. I believe we already have high school parents and people without children in our school system on the board and it is important to have some representation at all levels. Parents face different challenges at different levels of their children’s education and those challenges are best represented by those who to face them every day. Not by someone who faced them 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Who knows, perhaps there could have been a more thoughtful and equitable process on start times if our children had some representation.

  3. Congratulations to all of those elected, and thank you, Michael Dinan, for moderating this election so well. Even though not all the candidates I supported prevailed, I was impressed by the record-shattering level of participation in an off-year election. I hope our elected officials will bear in mind that thousands of New Canaan votes were cast for the candidates who were not elected.

  4. From the start of this election I found the BOE candidates running on the democrat party ticket to be disingenuous. They all said that there was no place for politics in our school system yet they choose to affiliate themselves with a political party. If they felt that strongly why not run was an independent and avoid the appearance of intellectual dishonesty? Now that the election is over the same group wants to contest the results which will create more political theater. If they truly want to keep politics out of The Board of Education then it’s time to stand down and accept the results.

    • Rick, I think it’s helpful and accurate to separate out some of what was said publicly by the candidates themselves during debates, podcast interviews and speeches, from what’s been said by certain groups of supporters, including in some cases—as noted in the article—local party committees on social media. To your point regarding assertions that there’s “no place for politics” on the school board: It was striking that an early criticism of members of the GOP slate from some Democratic supporters was that it had put forth national party talking points. While we probably all agree it’s fair to challenge candidates on their positions, simply identifying something as a national talking point doesn’t seem, in itself, like a valid criticism. Presumably, such positions become national talking points, in part, for the very reason that many people share them. That specific criticism came across as a dismissiveness that didn’t resonate with many New Canaanites, in my opinion. Not to mention that criticizing an opponent’s platform as a national talking point is itself a talking point, though from a different party. Similarly, if running for the school board on a specific platform is an overtly political act, I think that a decision to run against them for doing so is an equally political act. I think the framework for local elections should be strictly local—what do the candidates have to say about New Canaan Public Schools—we focused our coverage on that and very deliberately avoided any of the noise outside of New Canaan, and also cut off comments because our threads very early on got fire-hosed by that kind of talk. There could be an opportunity for both local party committees—worth noting here that what had been a 500-vote cushion for Republicans in recent past BOE elections was narrowed to 100-200 votes this year—to re-focus on the town in future municipal election campaigns.

      • Michael that’s well said. I applaud you for having the foresight to not allow your site to be used by either party or its followers for political gain.

  5. Dan, Phil, Hugo and Julie took the proverbial high road and stayed on it every step of the way until the Election was over. That’s right, over.

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