Bi-Partisan BOE Leadership Bid Fails

By at October 12, 2017 | 2:15 pm | Print

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When the Republican party took over leadership of the Common Council and the Board of Education two years ago, one of the first things done was change the way leadership of the school board was done.

Under Republican Nicholas Mercier (school board president) and former School Board President Democrat Sharon Beloin-Saavedra an agreement was reached that the Board of Education would have one Republican and one Democrat as president and vice president for the next two years.

An amendment to keep that agreement ongoing failed last week.

“I was disappointed that it didn’t pass and I hope to bring it up again with the full board present,” said Mercier. “It’s important because it helps break down the divide between the parties and forces them to work together. During the past two years with split leadership we’ve had a very open and productive board, and it was, in part, because we were forced to work together.”

Voting against the proposal was Republican Gayle Sanders Connoly and Democrats Daisy Sanchez, and Merrill Gay. For it were Mercier, Saavedra, Democrats Nicole Sanders and Mallory Deprey and Republican Cathy Cheney. Republicans Grissell Aponte and Miriam Geraci were not present. A two-thirds vote was needed for the change to occur.

“I voted against changing the BOE bylaws because I didn’t see a compelling reason to make a change,” said Gay. “Bi-partisan leadership has always been a possibility and there have certainly been bi-partisan coalitions to elect board leadership in the past. The Board itself has been pretty non-partisan in its day-to-day functioning and like Gayle Sanders Connolly, I didn’t see a reason to put partisan politics into the bylaws.”

Other board members disagreed.

“There have been times when the members of the BOE have been very partisan, and I don’t believe that that is in the best interest of the School District,” said Cheney. “Sharing leadership between members of the two major parties ensures that all opinions and views will be discussed and heard. Having this provision set forth in the by-laws sets the tone that the culture of the BOE is one of bipartisanship.”

The amendment to the by-laws would have read, “The president and the vice president of the board shall not be nominated or elected from the same political party.” The revision would have added that the board’s secretary could be from any political party.

“All we need to do is look at both our State and Federal Government to see that when the power of leadership rests solely in one party it does not work for the people. Ideological litmus tests and political rhetoric hasn’t served the people well. We are a blended diverse country of many ideas and beliefs that should be debated openly and without vitriol. The term “snowflake” is a euphemism for they can’t handle a differing opinion (too weak to handle opposite ideas). Then it is snowing in and on both political parties. Most Americans want to see elected officials working together and not at one another’s throats,” said Saavedra. “Our Board of Education although elected along party lines has never functioned as a partisan group. We work and debate the issues not the politics”

The City Journal was unable to reach Daisy Sanchez and Gayle Sanders Connolly.

 

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