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    Friday, May 24, 2024

    Voters will elect five members to Waterford school board

    Waterford ― Eight people are running for five seats on the town’s nine-member Board of Education.

    On Nov. 7, voters will decide among Democrats Marcia Benvenuti, an incumbent, and Laurie Wolfley, Doris Crumb and Liz Garcia Gonzalez; and Republicans Craig Merriman, Amanda Gates-Lamothe, Pat Fedor and Mindy Stone, all incumbents. All are running for four-year terms.

    Under minority party representation rules, no more than six members of the board can be from one party. Currently, there are two Republicans and two Democrats on the board whose terms end in 2025. The candidates are:

    Marcia Benvenuti, 76, a retired science teacher who has taught in New London and Waterford and served as an administrator at Wheeler High School in North Stonington. She started a student gardening program at Great Neck Elementary School and is running for her third term on the school board.

    Benvenuti said her priorities are to create a budget that will promote emotional and academic support for students; negotiate fair but realistic school board contracts; create policies that “promote equity and humanity” while reflecting residents’ needs; and passing the school board’s capital improvement budget.

    Doris Crum, 38, a stay-at-home mom, who is an alternate member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, a volunteer for the nonprofit Waterford Residents for Inclusion and Social Equity, or RISE, and vice president of the Oswegatchie School Organization, a parent teacher group. She spent 10 years teaching in schools in the Bronx, N.Y., and in rural Mississippi.

    Crum said her top three priorities are to listen to educators to determine their needs, hire additional support staff for students who have special needs or are bilingual and to focus on the emotional and mental well-being of students, which could mean adding more paraprofessionals.

    Laurie Wolfley, 63, an adjunct professor of English at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, who is a certified public school teacher and a volunteer for Waterford RISE. She said she wants to provide students and families “the care they need to prosper.”

    Wolfley wants to hire additional support staff because, she said, “Every year, the number of students coming into the classroom with barriers continues to grow.” She wants to ensure all students’ needs are accommodated, whether those needs require school services or after school care.

    Liz Garcia Gonzalez, 60, an instructor at New London Adult and Continuing Education, who has taught English as a Second Language classes at Centro de la Comunidad in New London and the Regional Multicultural Magnet School in Waterford.

    Gonzalez said her priorities include offering students a diverse range of education opportunities to stimulate their desire for learning, continuing to make students safer and involving the community in school board decisions through surveys.

    Pat Fedor, 71, the chairman of the school board, who has been retired for six years after a 43-year career in public education, 23 as an administrator in Waterford Public Schools. If elected to a second term, she wants to continue to represent the needs of the entire district in a “fiscally responsible way.”

    Fedor wants to develop a budget that accounts for the needs of the whole district, while being mindful of what the town can afford, and to enhance the emotional and social well-being of students and staff.

    Craig Merriman, 61, a project manager of a software engineering group at Electric Boat, who has served two terms on the school board and two terms on the Representative Town Meeting.

    Merriman wants to ensure a safe environment for students and staff, create a curriculum that provides a great education “without catering to political narratives” and to be “fiscally responsible.”

    Mindy Stone, 48, a stay-at-home mom, room parent, and parent-teacher association volunteer, who has filled a school board vacancy for several months. She said she’ll work hard to make sure students’ emotional, social and special education needs are met.

    Stone wants to prioritize student safety, emotional and social learning for students and make sure the board stays fiscally responsible. She affirmed her love for Waterford students and feels a responsibility to advocate for their needs, along with the needs of staff.

    Amanda Gates-Lamothe, 56, heading into her 12th year as a special education teacher, who has taught in Waterford, New London and, currently, Griswold public schools.

    Gates-Lamothe wants to keep schools diverse and safe for all students, make sure taxpayer money is spent wisely while upholding the “excellent school system” in town, and ensure teachers continue to have the resources they need to succeed.

    Board of Finance

    Four seats are open for four-year terms on the seven-member Board of Finance.

    Democrat candidates are David Peabody, appointed to fill a vacancy, John W. “Bill” Sheehan, an incumbent, and Cathy Barnard.

    Republican candidates are J. Robert Tuneski, an incumbent, and Lee Couture, Marc Mazzella and Mike Rocchetti.

    Town Clerk, Tax Collector and Town Treasurer

    David Campo, is running for a third term as town clerk, Abbas Danesh is on the ballot for a third term as town treasurer. Alan Wilensky, an incumbent, is running for a third term as tax collector. All are Republicans.


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