Draw from a basket determines New London school board seat
New London — The Rev. Aracelis Vazquez-Haye secured the seventh and final seat on the Board of Education Thursday at a tie-breaker where instead of a coin toss, city officials opted for pieces of paper in a basket.
Vazquez-Haye, who is in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, watched the action through a cellphone video connection.
She and fellow Democratic incumbent school board member Robert Funk had tied with 1,536 votes following a recount of the votes cast in the general election.
While the state no longer allows coin flips or other decisions by luck to determine the outcome of an election, New London has a charter provision that does.
City Clerk Jonathan Ayala used a wicker basket that previously held paper clips on a desk in the Office of Community Development.
He placed two folded and equally sized pieces of paper in the basket — one with the words “Board of Education,” printed on it.
City attorney Jeff Londregan held the basket.
Both Vazquez-Haye and Funk are out of state, so representatives for the two candidates were on hand to draw a piece of paper.
Funk’s representative Nancy Baude, drew first, followed by the Rev. Daniel Martino, a pastor with Vazquez-Haye at Church of the City.
Martino grinned when he unfolded the paper, and Vazquez-Haye could be heard on the phone saying, “thank you, gracias.”
“I’m just amazed at this process,” Vazquez-Haye said over the video connection. “Mr. Funk has been a pleasure to work with and has done an amazing job working as part of a team.”
Two school board members, Scott Garbini and Mirna Martinez, were on hand for the tie-breaker.
“It’s just interesting to know it literally comes down to two pieces of paper from a hat,” Garbini said.
Garbini said he had mixed feeling about the outcome. He said Funk will be missed, especially because of his financial expertise.
“Aracelis, I’m glad she’s back. She brings a wealth of knowledge and is a voice for her community, a very important part of this community.”
The last tie vote in New London in recent memory was the 1981 Board of Education race between Burton Schaperow and Clark van der Lyke. Van der Lyke secured a win in the same fashion as Vazquez-Haye.
In the event of a tie after an election, state law calls for another election for the two candidates, something city officials agree would be a costly process.
State law in this case is superseded by the local charter.
Stories that may interest you
The foundation also announced changes in the half-marathon course, including one that brings runners through Mystic Seaport Museum.
The Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday night to interview three firms and possibly select one of them to investigate how school officials handled the allegations against former high school teacher Timothy Chokas.
Before any of these machine-assisted operations were in town, there was another option for car owners in Mystic.
“We wanted each student to feel good about themselves when they arrived at school and found a special kindness note on their locker,” Michelle Noehren, chair of the Kindness Committee, said.