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New London — Democrats took six of the seven possible seats on the city’s Board of Education in the municipal elections Tuesday, and voters chose four first-time officeholders to sit on the board charged with setting policy and direction for the city’s struggling school system.
Democratic incumbents Margaret Mary Curtin, Sylvia Potter and Elizabeth Garcia Gonzalez will be joined on the board by fellow Democrats Scott S. Garbini, Robert Funk and Aracelis Vazquez Haye.
Green Party candidate Mirna Lis Martinez, who was cross-endorsed by the Republican Party, was also elected to the board.
“I am so incredibly excited to work with all the new board members and I think we will all be able to work well together,” Garbini, a political newcomer who holds a master’s degree in education and works at the Thames Academy at Mitchell College, said. “I think we are all ready to get to work and start doing great things for the city of New London.”
Martinez, who will be the sole non-Democrat on the board, said she expects that all seven board members will be able to work together regardless of party affiliations.
“Once we’re on (the board), we’re on and I don’t think there will be any issues with party,” Martinez, a former teacher and co-founder of New London Parent Advocates, said. “I’m excited to get back to the actual issues and pushing for our kids in the school system.”
The newly elected board will have to hire a new superintendent of schools, oversee the city’s transition to being the state’s first all-magnet school district, and reinvigorate community trust and involvement with the school system, all while under the watchful eye of a state-appointed special master.
“Especially with the upcoming search for a new superintendent, I’m sure we will all be working together,” Curtin, the current board chairwoman, said. “I think we will have a very good board, everyone elected tonight is certainly dedicated to the school system in this city.”
Funk, a corporate accountant who has advised the Board of Education on budget matters, was elected to the board this year after coming up short two years ago.
“Each one of us will bring our own set of skills to the board, and I think that will help with cohesion,” Funk said. “We have our work cut out for us, but I think we will have the right team in place to do the job.”
Vazquez Haye, a political newcomer, is a pastor at the Church of the City and a chaplain at Connecticut College.
Incumbent Republican Jason Catala was not re-elected to the board. Current board members William Morse, Barbara Major and Delanna Muse did not seek re-election.
The new board will be sworn in Dec. 2.