Union-oriented Working Families Party will try to flex its muscle today


This from union-connected Working Families Party Director Lindsay Farrell:

“Today, we will be going to local schools and libraries to elect our Mayors, City Councils, and Boards of Education. I wanted to take a minute to share a bit about the races we have been working on.

Our main focus has been on the Bridgeport Board of Education race. Over the last few years, Bridgeport has become the center of a national battle over how to improve our education. The corporate-backed education reform movement installed infamous privatizer Paul Vallas as Superintendent of Bridgeport schools.

Unsatisfied with the direction their schools were headed, parents and concerned citizens pushed back against the corporate reform agenda. With their support, Working Families, and their allies, are working to gain a majority on the Bridgeport Board of Education and put the community in charge of their own schools again. In September’s primary we worked with the Bridgeport Education Association to support a slate of candidates who are committed to community-based reform, against the party’s endorsed Democrats who would have pushed for a corporate backed reform agenda. In a surprising upset, those candidates, Andre Baker, Howard Gardner, and Dave Hennessey, won the primary handily.

In addition to these friendly Democratic candidates, Working Families is running its own slate against the Republican candidates. Our slate includes two-term incumbent and longtime community activist Sauda Baraka, Parent Advisory Council President Eric Stewart-Alicea, and cross-endorsed candidate Andre Baker. All three are parents with deep ties to the Bridgeport community who understand how important a robust public education system is.

If they win, the Democratic and Working Families Board members will create a majority coalition on the Board of Education. They will then be able to replace Paul Vallas with a qualified Superintendent, and pursue community-driven reforms that ensure every student gets a quality education. This will be a big victory for the movement to push back against the privatization of our public schools. The Democratic machine has even been supporting Republican candidates in an effort to crush the WFP and the emergence of a progressive majority on the board.

The race has garnered some great press for the party, including an article in Salon magazine and a great feature piece in the Hartford Courant.

In other races, we’ve been working to reelect Robert Cotto Jr to the Hartford Board of Education. He has been a champion of public education, and we badly need him to stay on the Board as charter schools look to expand in the city.

In Middletown, Working Families has been supporting incumbent Mayor Dan Drew, along with Carl Chisem for Planning and Zoning Commissioner, and Deputy Minority Leader Phil Pessina for Common Council. Our work included a piece of direct mail that draws attention to outrageous comments made by former Mayor Republican Seb Giuliano. The piece got written about in the Middletown Patch.

In New Britain, we’ve knocked on thousands of doors for incumbent Mayor Tim O’Brien who is facing a tough race after taking on absentee landlords in his first term. We’d also like to wish the best of luck to Dawn Niles, running for Mayor in Windham, and all the candidates on the WFP line in Bethel, Danbury, Norwalk, Fairfield, and Meriden.

Thank you all for your work over this election season. We’ll keep you updated on these races as they progress. Vote Row C!