Bridgeport Public Schools elections (2013)
Method of election
What was at stake?
Bridgeport Public Schools
Five seats on the Bridgeport Board of Education were up for election on November 5, 2013. Eight candidates sought election the board, including three candidates each from the Democratic, Republican and Working Families Parties. Dave Hennessey, Howard Gardner, Joe Larcheveque, Andre Baker, Jr. and Sauda Baraka defeated four challengers to win five at-large seats.
The board's relationship with Mayor Bill Finch and Superintendent Paul Vallas has been contentious and the Democratic candidates ran in the September 10, 2013 primary on a platform of reversing their reform efforts. This election was only the second since the state's 2011 takeover of the board, which was ultimately found unconstitutional by the Connecticut State Supreme Court in February 2012.
About the district
- See also: Bridgeport Public Schools, Connecticut
Bridgeport lagged behind the rest of Connecticut based on median income and higher education achievement while outperforming the state poverty rate in 2010. The 2010 U.S. Census found the median income in Bridgeport was $60,032 while the state median income was $69,243. The percentage of city residents over 25 years old with undergraduate degrees (21.7%) was lower than the state average (35.7%). The city's poverty rate was 8.2% compared to the state's 9.5% poverty rate.
Method of board member election
The Bridgeport Board of Education consists of nine members who are elected at-large to four-year terms. The Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee held primaries on September 10, 2013 while the Republican and Working Families Parties selected their candidates during meetings in July and August 2013. Five seats were up for election on November 5, 2013, while four seats will be on the ballot on November 3, 2015.
State law requires a minimum of three seats to be held by minority parties following each election. The composition of the board heading into the November 2013 election was six Democratic members and three Working Families members. On November 5, 2013, voters were able to choose any three candidates on the ballot regardless of party. The five candidates who received the most votes won election to the board.
The candidates on the November 5, 2013 ballot were:
- Member, Bridgeport City Council
- Owner, Baker Funeral Services
- Veteran, U.S. Army
- Graduate, University of Bridgeport and Polytechnic Institute of New York University
- IT consultant
- Graduate, University of Bridgeport
- Grants manager, Greater Bridgeport Transit
- Graduate, Florida A&M University
- Graduate, Post University
- Sales, LegalShield
|Bridgeport Public Schools, General Election, 4-year term, 2013|
|Democratic||Andre Baker, Jr.||15.3%||714|
|Working Families||Eric Stewart-Alicea||4.2%||194|
|Working Families||Sauda Baraka Incumbent||4%||186|
|Working Families||Andre Baker, Jr.||3.6%||167|
|Source: Connecticut Secretary of State, "Municipal Elections - November 5, 2013," accessed December 16, 2013|
On September 10, 2013, a Democratic primary was held for three spots on the ballot in the Bridgeport Board of Education election. Baker, Hennessey and Gardner won these positions over Simon Castillo, Kathryn Bukovsky and Brandon Clark. The winners ran against the school reform policies of Mayor Bill Finch and received the endorsement of the Network for Public Education while the other three candidates were endorsed by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.
|Bridgeport Board of Education, September 10, 2013|
|Democrat||Andre Baker, Jr.||21.6%||3,409|
|Source: Connecticut Post These results are unofficial.|
A candidate forum was held on October 24, 2013 at St. John's Episcopal Church. The candidates discussed their views on the board's relationship with Superintendent Paul Vallas and methods of improving academic performance. Andre Baker, Jr. discussed the need for improved relationships within the board. Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner suggested that the board needs to reassert its authority over the superintendent's office. Joe Larcheveque believes that board members cannot act until the Connecticut Supreme Court renders a decision about Paul Vallas's qualification for the position. Larcheveque and fellow Republican candidate John Weldon criticized the Democratic and Working Families candidates for attempting to form a super-majority that would block necessary reforms.
The candidates supported different priorities in their discussions about school funding. Gardner and Sauda Baraka believe that legal and administrative fees related to the state takeover could be used for educational purposes. Steve Best suggested that greater resources for elementary schools would improve academic performance. Eric Stewart-Alicea and Larcheveque advocated for pre-kindergarten classes at every elementary school in the district.
Citizens Working for a Better Bridgeport endorsed Democratic candidates Andre Baker, Jr., Howard Gardner and Dave Hennessey as well as Republican candidates Steve Best and Joe Larcheveque ahead of the November 5, 2013 general election. The Connecticut Post endorsed Baker, Sauda Baraka and Larcheveque on October 27, 2013.
No contributions or expenditures were reported during the election, according to the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission.
What was at stake?
Democratic incumbents Leticia Colon, Thomas Mulligan, Jr. and Bobby Simmons did not file for re-election in 2013. The Democratic primary yielded a slate including Andre Baker, Jr., Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner. Although the candidates were not endorsed by the party's town committee, all three won election to the board. The Bridgeport Republican Town Committee selected Steve Best, John Weldon and Joe Larcheveque as their candidates for the board. Weldon was the only Republican pick to not win election to the board. The Working Families Party sought to retain two seats and pick up a Democratic seat by endorsing incumbent Sauda Baraka and Eric Stewart-Alicea, as well as Democratic candidate Baker. Neither Baraka nor Stewart-Alicea won election to the board.
Board relations with Mayor Finch
The main issue during the Bridgeport Board of Education elections in 2013 was the relationship between the board, Democratic Mayor Bill Finch and Superintendent Paul Vallas. Finch has been criticized for his efforts to orchestrate a state takeover of the school board by the state in July 2011. The mayor argued that conflict on the board prevented reforms necessary to improve test scores and reduce budget deficits. This effort allowed the state to appoint new board members and appoint education reformer Paul Vallas as superintendent. In February 2012, the Connecticut State Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the state takeover was unconstitutional and resumed local control over schools. Five members of the board who were replaced by state appointees were reinstated after the ruling and four new members were elected during a special election in spring 2012. The Democratic and Working Families candidates in the 2013 election had hoped to take all five available seats to counter reform efforts by Finch, Vallas and current board members. However, two seats were picked up by Republican candidates Joe Larcheveque and Steve Best.
Board relations with Superintendent Vallas
Paul Vallas was appointed by the state as Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools in January 2012. Vallas, a former school administrator in New Orleans and Chicago, has been criticized for budget cuts as well as excessive testing. Critics like board member Sauda Baraka have focused on the use of standardized testing every six weeks and resource deprivation in the classroom as reasons to oust Vallas. Supporters, including Mayor Finch, note that the district has closed a budget deficit and placed local schools on the right path. The Democratic and Working Families candidates in the 2013 election were vocal opponents of Vallas. Vallas is currently serving under a three-year contract approved by a majority of board members in 2013 which opponents are challenging in state court.
|July 23, 2013||Last day for political party endorsements of candidates by town caucus or convention|
|July 24, 2013||Nominating petitions available for primary|
|August 7, 2013||Last day to file nominating petitions for primary|
|October 10, 2013||First filing date following primary election|
|October 29, 2013||Last filing date prior to general election|
|September 10, 2013||Primary day|
|November 5, 2013||Election day|
|December 5, 2013||Certification of election results by county|
Additional elections on the ballot
The Bridgeport Board of Education elections shared the ballot with elections for eight seats on the Bridgeport City Council on November 5, 2013.
- School board elections review: Voters opt for experience over new blood in nation's largest school districts
- School board election wrap-up: Incumbents re-elected overwhelmingly in November 5 elections
- List of school board elections in 2013
- Bridgeport Public Schools, Connecticut
- Fairfield County, Connecticut ballot measures
- District page
- City of Bridgeport
- Connecticut Secretary of State
- Connecticut Democratic Party
- Bridgeport Republican Town Committee
- Connecticut Working Families Party
- The Courant, "Supreme Court Rules Bridgeport School Takeover Broke The Law," February 28, 2012
- U.S. Census, "Quick Facts: Bridgeport," accessed October 24, 2013
- Connecticut Secretary of State, "Election Results," accessed October 4, 2013
- Connecticut General Assembly, "Minority Representation Requirements," accessed October 7, 2013
- Bridgeport Public Schools, "Members of the Bridgeport Board of Education," accessed October 7, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "Gabrielle A. Parisi: Making sense of the coming school board vote," September 5, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "Challengers win school board primary," September 11, 2013
- Network for Public Education, "NPE endorses three candidates for Bridgeport, CT Board of Education," September 6, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "School board candidates talk Vallas, vision," October 24, 2013
- Citizens Working for a Better Bridgeport, "Political Action Committee CW4BB Announces General Election Endorsements," October 3, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "Baker, Baraka and Larcheveque for school board," October 27, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "Challengers win school board primary," September 11, 2013
- CT News, "Plenty willing to join the Bridgeport BOE fray," July 25, 2013
- CT News, "Working Families Party picks BOE slate," August 10, 2013
- New York Times, "State to Appoint New Board of Education in Bridgeport," July 6, 2011
- Chicago Sun-Times, "Paul Vallas, former Chicago school chief, fighting to keep his latest job," September 21, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "School board results all about the mayor," September 12, 2013
- City of Bridgeport, "November 5, 2013 Municipal Election Calendar," accessed October 4, 2013
- Connecticut Office of Government Accountability, "November Municipal Candidate Committees Calendar," accessed October 4, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "Primaries set in Bridgeport, Stratford and Milford," September 9, 2013