Five to vie for Bridgeport school board vacancy

March 8, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — Two unaffiliated voters, two Republicans and a Libertarian will vie for an open seat on the city school board.

By the 4 p.m. Thursday deadline, seven letters of interest had been submitted to the schools superintendent’s office. Two candidates, Bobby Brown and Faith Sweeney, were disqualified because they are Democrats.

The open seat has to go to someone other than a Democrat to satisfy a state statute that requires at least three members of a minority party on the nine member panel.

Those who fit that bill include unaffiliated candidates John Marshal Lee and Joseph Lombard, Republicans Michael Giannotti and John Rodriguez, and Libertarian LaMar Kennedy.

Kennedy and Rodriguez both submitted their resumes just before the deadline.

The board will interview the candidates starting at 4 p.m. Monday at Aquaculture Center at 60 St. Stephens Road. A selection will be made later during the board’s 6:30 p.m. business meeting.

The chosen candidate will serve until an election is held in November.

The board had 30 days from Feb. 15, 2019 to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of State Sen. Dennis Bradley, a Democrat. The replacement must be a city resident from another party, however, because Joseph Sokolovic, another board member switched from Republican to Democrat in October. That left the board with just two minority party members — Republicans John Weldon, who is the board chair, and Chris Taylor.

Rodriquez, ironically, ran and lost against Bradley for the 23rd senate seat in November. He is retired and chairs The Bridge Academy Charter School Board of Directors.

Lee is a fiscal watchdog in the city who said he switch his voter registration over the summer. Once before — in 2011 he tried to put his hat in the ring for a city school board vacancy but that time was deemed ineligible because the board was looking for a Democrat and he had been a Democrat for less than 90 days.

Giannotti, a former journalist, once served as spokesman for the school system and later mayor’s office. He has been a Republican since 2017 when he ran unsuccessfully for a city council seat in the 130th district.

Kennedy is a special education teacher at Wilby High School in Waterbury. He is also hed football coach and assistant boys’ basketball coach at the school.

Lombard joined Teach for America out of college and taught in Phoenix Arizona. He moved to Bridgeport 15 years ago and according to his resume is assistant director of educational funding, training and support at Porter and Chester Institute in Stratford.