In Trumbull, parties have different means of achieving school board balance

Photo of Amanda Cuda
Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. April 5, 2017.

Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. April 5, 2017.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — Twelve candidates will be running for eight seats on the town’s Board of Education — and a recent charter change means only four candidates from each party can win.

During the last election, Trumbull residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of a charter change that increased the Board of Education from seven members to eight, with no more than four members from any political party. Members also will have staggered four-year terms, so half the board is up for re-election every two years.

That means some of the candidates elected this year are running for two year terms, and some are running for four-year terms.

In this year’s election, the Trumbull Democrats are running a total of eight candidates — four for two-year terms, and four for four-year terms. The Republicans are only running four candidates, meaning all will be elected to either two-year or four-year terms.

Trumbull Democratic Party Chairman Tom Kelly said the Democrats opted to construct their slate this way because they were told by the Secretary of the State’s office that running less than four candidates in each category would make the ticket “under-endorsed,” meaning that any member of the party could petition to be put on the ballot, without needing the party’s official endorsement.

“We’re doing this because we’re not willing to assume the risk that someone unqualified could walk onto our ballot line,” Kelly said. “We nominated eight qualified candidates for the Board of Education and the people of Trumbull will decide which ones they would like.”

The Democrats are running Christine El Eris, Julia McNamee, David Scrofani and incumbent Lucinda Timpanelli for the two-year terms. Kathy Champion, Lisa Nuland and incumbents Tim Gallo and Scot Kerr are running for the four-year terms.

The Republican Party is running Chris Bandecchi and incumbents Alison Squiccimarro, Marie Petitti and Jackie Norcel. All four candidates are up for both the four-year and two-year seats.

Bandecchi is also chairman of Trumbull’s Republican Town Committee, and said the new Board of Education composition necessitated by the charter revisions should be a step forward for the town.

“The board will hopefully be a representative, apolitical voice that represents our parents, children, and all taxpayers,” he said, adding that the new terms “will allow for continuity while still allowing for accountability.”

Both Kelly and Bandecchi said school improvements and pandemic-related challenges are among the key issues that will face board members moving forward. Kelly said, though most COVID protocols come from the state level “You want to make sure you’re leading Trumbull through the pandemic in right way.”

Bandecchi said a strong board is key to maintaining a strong school system.

“The BOE is the voice for our students and parents,” he said. “We believe in an actively engaged and transparent board that has oversight at the local level on issues from budgeting to curriculum.