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New London Democrats endorse slate of candidates

New London — The New London Democratic Party will be running four new Board of Education candidates and two new City Council candidates in the 2021 municipal elections.

The city party committee chose its endorsed candidates for the Board of Education, the City Council and registrar Tuesday night during a meeting that lasted about 20 minutes.

Board of Education nominees include Bryan Doughty, Elaine Maynard Adams, Jeff Hart, Danni Cruz, Bianca Alexis, Nathan Caron and Frank Anthony Silva. Current board members Queenie Diaz, Lee Cornish-Muller and Rob Pero, a Republican, and board President Regina Mosley are not running again.

City Council nominees include Efraín Domínguez, John Satti, Kevin Booker Jr., Reona Dyess, James Burke, Martha Marx and Carmen Jocelyn Rosario. Current councilors Curtis Goodwin and Alma Nartatez are not running again.

In a statement to The Day, Goodwin said it was a difficult decision not to seek reelection. He said he’d like to focus on entrepreneurial endeavors and building generational wealth.

“To be honest, it’s extremely tough to be a young, black, queer city councilor,” Goodwin said. However, he added that he was "extremely happy" with what he accomplished during his first term on City Council: spearheading a path to a $30 million community recreational center, a city-funded youth department and a Black history walking trail.

"I do have other political aspirations that would allow me to further enhance my hometown," he said, "and I look forward to exploring those possibilities in the future.”

Bill Giesing, the Democratic registrar in New London since 2005, has decided not to run for the position again.

“It has been a challenge to handle all the changes that have taken place in the process of elections, but we worked through it,” he wrote in a retirement letter.

The committee endorsed Rich Martin, a longtime New London businessman who owns The Telegraph record store on Golden Street and has worked for the committee in different capacities, to replace Giesing.

School board slate

Hart, who has lived in New London for more than a decade, said in his statement to the committee that he is running for reelection "to continue my work fighting for equity for New London’s students in the classroom and in the budget."

Adams, who chairs the school board’s Policy Committee, touted the board’s effort in putting together a plan for the school district to use its COVID-19 relief funding.

Caron, formerly an eighth-grade English language arts teacher in New London Public Schools and onetime city clerk, said in his statement that he hoped his teaching experience and “commitment to lifelong learning” would earn him an endorsement for the board.

Doughty, the founder of a small music publishing company, said in his statement that he’d like to continue supporting staff hiring with a focus on increasing diversity and to cultivate the board’s relationship with the city “with a focus on streamlining and reducing costs while at the same time providing more educational opportunities for our students.”

Lifelong city resident Cruz, who is 18, is studying at the University of Connecticut to be a teacher and works at Fiddleheads Food Co-op. He’s served on committees with the board and was on the committee that searched for a new high school principal during the 2019-20 school year. “I want to bring a fresh perspective to the board,” he said. “Being somebody who just graduated from New London High School now, I’ll bring a different mindset. It’s great to have young people in on discussions like this, on boards, on panels, on anything.”

Alexis, a clinical mental health therapist who has been working on  her doctorate in education and leadership, said she was excited by her endorsement. “Especially being so young, I’m 27. You kind of doubt yourself. Can I do that, do I have the ability to do so?” she said. She added that as a graduate of Saint Bernard High School, she’s seen a disparity in education that she’d like to ameliorate.

Silva is a native of Puerto Rico who works for the Alliance for Living in New London, “the only HIV/AIDS service organization and resource center in southeastern Connecticut that also deals with homelessness and assists people dealing with substance use disorder,” according to its website, as the director of community care and administration. He said he’s running because he wants to give back to a city that has welcomed him after working in the community for the past 14 years.

Council slate

Domínguez said in his statement that his goals are to continue leading the joint budgetary task force, expand the Public Works Department, provide money to foster small businesses in the city and provide programs for seniors, among others. The incumbent Democrat is seeking his fifth term in office. He’s been an educator for more than two decades at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School.

Booker Jr., who has been the chair of the Public Safety Committee and a member of the Administration Committee, pointed to his work highlighting businesses in New London during the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to endorse him. “One of the goals I have for next term is to strengthen the businesses we have in our community through training, development, and increased funding opportunities while also continuing to attract and establish new businesses that will thrive in our city,” he said in his statement.

Satti has been elected to the council three times before, as well as serving two terms on the Board of Education. “I am proud to have been part of a council that approved the sale of parcel J, which now houses a 100-plus apartment complex,” he said in his statement. “I am also proud to be part of a council that sends tens of millions of dollars to our BOE.”

Dyess has worked as executive director of the Drop In Learning Center for 25 years. In that time, "I have made a lot of different changes, but now to be able to be a part of policy change, to really have an impact, that’s where it’s at,” she said. “Until you change policy, nothing really happens.”

Marx, a nurse and the city’s party committee chair, ran unsuccessfully for the 20th District’s state Senate seat twice. “Throughout the years that I have cared for the sick of New London, I have developed a unique understanding of the needs of our residents,” she said in her statement. “If elected, I will continue to care and serve our city with empathy."

Marx said she’s excited about the party’s slate and about running for council. “We’re the newbies, Jocelyn (Rosario) and myself. For the first time ever, we have three women running as Democrats,” she added.

Burke, who has served in his current term as chair of the Public Works Committee, said that if he is reelected, he “would fight to open the city charter in order to make changes necessary to implement all recommendations of Mayor Passero's Public Safety Policy Review Committee, eliminate the residency requirement for City department heads, and move BOE members to staggered four year terms,” among other initiatives.

Rosario, who grew up in the Dominican Republic, moved to New London in 2004 and attended Three Rivers Community College for business administration management. She's worked as an inventory supervisory for Birk Manufacturing in East Lyme for 17 years.

"I think New London has a great energy right at this moment, and I really want to be the voice of that energy for the people," she said. "I'm really excited for this chance to promote community participation. It's important for people to listen and also to take action."

s.spinella@theday.com

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