Five new faces join New London school board

City Council candidate Martin Olsen, right, comforts Board of Education candidate Kathy Skrabacz as her husband, Steve, looks on as preliminary election results come in Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, at the Republican Party Headquarters in New London. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
City Council candidate Martin Olsen, right, comforts Board of Education candidate Kathy Skrabacz as her husband, Steve, looks on as preliminary election results come in Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, at the Republican Party Headquarters in New London. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

New London — Democrat Manny Rivera, whose candidacy for the school board was as unexpected as his retirement as school superintendent earlier this year, won a place on the Board of Education Tuesday.

Rivera will be among the five new faces on the school board in an election noteworthy because of the number of seats up for grabs. Five school board members did not seek reelection to the seven-member board.

Voters returned incumbent Democrat Jason Catala to the board. He was the top vote-getter for the second consecutive election.

Incumbent Mirna Martinez, a member of the Green Party, has a nine-vote lead over Republican candidate Kathy Skrabacz, according to unofficial results. The close margin — less than 20 votes — will trigger a recount.

The school board winners include political newcomer Rebecca Amanti, 65, a former English teacher, dean of students at New London High School and a longtime assistant principal at Waterford High School who volunteers as an academic advisor in New London.

Democrat Jefferey Hart, 35, the chairman of the Pedestrian Advisor Committee, and Regina Mosely, 42, the co-founder of New London Parent Advocates, also secured seats.

“There are going to be a lot of changes coming to the board all at once,” Hart said.

Hart said he looked forward to collaborating with surrounding school districts and completing the magnet school process. He said Rivera’s inclusion on the Democratic slate may have shaken up the race but he hoped people could get past their differences with him and look forward for the good of the district.

The new school board will oversee the hiring of Rivera’s replacement and tackle a massive school construction project, among other duties.

Susan Tierney was the only Republican candidate to secure a seat on Tuesday. The co-owner of Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock and mother of three had never before run for elected office.

This year’s race was highlighted by a shifting panel of candidates. In late August, Republicans announced that five of their six endorsed candidates had withdrawn and been replaced by five new candidates. The new group was composed of many parents of school-aged children and included Karen Paul, Jasmine Collins, Eleanor Day, Antonella Muscarella, Kathy Skrabacz and Susan Tierney.

Democrats initially endorsed a group of seven, including school board president Scott Garbini. But four candidates withdrew their candidacy, including Garbini. The resulting slate of six candidates included Michael McLaughlin, who came up short.

Green Party candidate Erick Carrion, the youngest candidate in any city race at the age of 24, and Alisha Blake, who ran with the Working Families Party, also failed to secure seats.

A timeline for the recount between Martinez and Skrabacz was unclear late Tuesday.

g.smith@theday.com

From right, volunteer Marie Gravell laughs as she talks with Board of Education candidate Erick Carrion, volunteer Zeni Martinez and Board of Education candidate Jason Catala outside of the polling station at New London High School on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
From right, volunteer Marie Gravell laughs as she talks with Board of Education candidate Erick Carrion, volunteer Zeni Martinez and Board of Education candidate Jason Catala outside of the polling station at New London High School on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Margarita Mogollon, volunteering for City Council candidate Alma Nartatez, dances to stay warm outside the polling station at Harbor School on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in New London. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Margarita Mogollon, volunteering for City Council candidate Alma Nartatez, dances to stay warm outside the polling station at Harbor School on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in New London. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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