Three of four Bridgeport school board seats go to Democrats
BRIDGEPORT — Ganim Democrats won three of four open seats on the city’s contentious nine-member school board on Tuesday.
Incumbent Sybil Allen, along with parent Albert Benejan, and political newcomer Bobbi Brown won by a sizable margin after both machine and absentee votes were tallied.
Brown was the top vote-getter with 9,334 ballots cast, to Allen’s 9,267 and Benejan’s 8,973.
Early Wednesday, the still unofficial results sent to the Secretary of State’s office gave the fourth seat to incumbent Republican Joseph Lombard by a slim seven vote margin over fellow Republican Joseph Minutolo. Lombard had 1,993 votes to Minutolo’s 1986 votes. The third Republican, Chris Genuduso had 1,923 votes. The closness will trigger an automatic recount according to the Secretary of State’s office.
“I am very excited,” said Benejan, shouting over the music that played at Testo’s Restaurant where the Democrats had gathered on Tuesday waiting for results. Benejan pledged to work for parents and said he would be nobody’s puppet.
Brown said she would do her homework — just as she said she did as a student at Warren Harding High School.
“My biggest message was to give people who look like me and who are my age an opportunity,” said Brown, who is 30.
All three enjoyed the top row on the ballot along with Mayor Joseph Ganim who easily won another term.
In all, there were 12 candidates on Tuesday’s ballots vying for the four open seats with at least one guaranteed for a minority party.
Incumbent Maria Pereira, who this year ran for the school board on Line D with a slate she called the “For the People” party, also ran for a seat in the City Council’s 138th District and won that race. For school board, she ended up with 1,067 votes — 2.63 percent of votes cast.
Pereira said her goal was to at least capture 1 percent of the vote for the For the People party so that it would automatically secure a spot in the next election.
Running with Pereira on the For the People party line were JoAnn Kennedy and Helen Olga Losak.
Had Pereira won both seats, she would have had to decide which to claim. She can only hold one.
Working Family Party candidates Eric Alicea, Dasha Spell and Amina Brown, had called themselves “Game Changers.” They had tried and failed to represent the Democratic Party in a September primary along with Mayoral Candidate Marilyn Moore.
On Tuesday, the three captured roughly 1,400 votes each.
A panel that has long been described as dysfunctional, the school board is famous for being unable at times to complete meetings without shouting at one another. Much of its time is also spent figuring out what to cut from an already underfunded school system. There has also been a great deal of turnover, with several board members quitting — but only after changing their political parties to add confusion to the replacement process.
Lombard, for instance, joined the board this year as an independent before changing his affiliation to run as a Republican in the election.
One key issue for the newly constituted board will be to find a permanent superintendent. Some would just as soon stick with Acting Schools Superintendent Michael Testani, even though his contract stipulates he cannot get the permanent job.