WATERBURY — Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati has ruled that a special Board of Education election will be held September 4, 2012.
That is one of four dates suggested by the state Secretary of State’s office and not the date an attorney for the city wanted. Attorney John Bohannon asked the judge for the election to be held on Sept. 11, 2012. Anything sooner, he said would not give the city’s Registrar of Voters enough time to prepare.
Still, Bohannon said Wednesday tha the September 4 date is better than either of the two proposed in August.
“It just means we will be seeking the release of the machines (from an August 14) primary early and extra cards from the state,” Bohannon said.
The judge was complying with a state Superior Court decision to return an elected school board to the city. It has been out one since the day after the last Fourth of July weekend when the elected board asked by a 6-to-3 vote to be reconstituted. The state Board of Education granted the wish the following day. The court ruled that was illegal. The state-appointed school board will be in place until after the election. There are at least four vacant seats to be filled.
Here is the order:
The Supreme Court remanded this case and the consolidated cases captioned Pereira v. State Board of Education (X06 CV 11 6010994 S) and Farrar-James v. State Board of Education (X06 CV 11 6011014 S) with direction to order a special election for the vacant seats on the Bridgeport Board of Education (local board). Specifically, this court was directed by the Supreme Court to (1) order the election pursuant to the provisions of General Statutes § 9-164(b); (2) set all applicable dates under the statute;and (3) schedule the election no later than 150 days from the date of the order for the election. The special election will include all four seats that would have been filled on the basis of voting in the 2011 Bridgeport municipal elections.
This court on April 13, 2012 heard and received evidence about available dates to hold this special election. The court had solicited assistance from the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office in order that the court would comply with the requirements imposed by General Statutes § 9-164(b) to include dates for party endorsements and primary elections. The court did hear evidence from Attorney Ted Bromley of the Secretary of State’s office and received as evidence special election calendars prepared by the
Secretary of State’s office with suggested dates for an election to take place. Four election dates were provided that would comply with General Statutes § 9-164(b) and the Supreme Court’s direction. Those dates are August 21, 2012; August 28, 2012; September 4, 2012; and September 11, 2012.
The court also heard from Linda Grace in her capacity as the Republican Registrar of Voters for the city of Bridgeport. Her testimony focused on logistical problems that would accompany the available election dates. The main concern of this witness rests with the fact that on August 14, 2012, a state primary election for state offices is scheduled to take place. Pursuant to General Statutes § 9-447, the voting tabulators must remain locked for fourteen days after a primary election in order to preserve any candidate’s right to contest an election. The remaining concerns raised by the witness related to staffing/ manpower issues.
Although there may be logistical issues with any one of the four dates from which the court may choose, the court is restricted in its choice by the requirements of General Statutes § 9-164(b).
The court orders the following:
(1) The election for the four positions on the Bridgeport Board of Education shall take place on Tuesday, September 4, 2012. The Democratic and Republican Registrars of Voters shall follow the special election calendar from the Secretary of State that was marked and admitted into evidence at the April 13, 2012 hearing as defendants’ exhibit C, which includes dates for party endorsements and primary elections; (2) By stipulation of all parties present and of record at the April 13, 2012 hearing, the polling places for the September 4, 2012 election shall be the same polling places that will be used for the August 14, 2012 state primary election; (3) Until the final certification of the special election results is completed, the seven current members of the reconstituted board shall remain in office; and (4) Counsel for the Republican and Democratic Registrars of Voters shall notify the court when final certification of the special election results is completed.