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Catala loses; five new faces to join New London Board of Education

New London — Five new faces will join two incumbents on the seven-member Board of Education, while voters did not return Jason Catala, arrested two weeks ago, to the board.

Jefferey P. Hart and Regina Mosley, both Democrats, were re-elected. Incumbent Susan Tierney, who is unaffiliated but ran as a Republican, was defeated in addition to Catala.

Mosley was the top vote-getter with 2,190 votes with Hart coming in second with 2,052 votes, according to unofficial results. Other members elected to the board include Democrats Elaine Maynard-Adams, Bryan Doughty, Lee Cornish-Muller, and Queenie Diaz and Republican Robert Pero, with 1,939, 1,927, 1,827, 1,805 and 1,773 votes, respectively, unofficial results show.

"We have to make sure we're doing what's right and best for the students," said Mosley, 44, who has one child in the New London schools and two others who have graduated from the district. "That's the most important."

The election comes as the school district remains at the center of an investigation by the state Office of the Child Advocate following the arrest of three school employees, two of them on sexual assault charges.

Mosley said the board has taken the initiative to try to address some of the issues in the school district, including the recent completion of a human resources audit, which led to the rewriting of several policies. The results of the audit have not been publicized.

Pero, the lone Republican elected to the board, said that while it was nice to be "one of the seven" board members, he was disappointed for his fellow candidates.

"Hopefully, we can work together for the betterment of New London," he said, specifically citing wanting to bring accountability and leadership to the board. He said he wants the board to come up with a list of goals for Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie and to hold her to those goals.

Three members of the school board did not seek re-election: board president and former school superintendent Manuel "Manny" Rivera, Green Party member Mirna Martinez and Democrat Rebecca Amanti.

Mosley, who served as chair of the board's curriculum committee, said she is interested in seeking the now-vacant board chairmanship. She said she would continue to fight for a curriculum and policies that are inclusive all students.

Catala, who was running for his eighth term on the board, was arrested just weeks before the election on credit card fraud charges. He is accused of opening 16 credit card accounts and accumulating $8,000 in debt, using a niece's personal information. City Democrats withdrew their support of Catala just before the election, but he remained in the race.

Catala said by phone Tuesday night that he really enjoyed his seven terms on the board and was disappointed by the night's results. He said he didn't think his loss was connected to his arrest — unofficial votes showed him as the ninth vote getter — and indicated that he would run for a seat on the board again.

"I'll be back," he said.

j.bergman@theday.com

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