May 19, 2022

Two Stratford School Board members change political party affiliation

STRATFORD — Two members of the Stratford Board of Education withdrew their party affiliations after running as Republicans in their 2019 council election, according to state voter registration records.

BOE Chairman Andrea Corcoran and Secretary Amy Wiltsie each became unaffiliated in late January the same day, after consulting with legal counsel, Wiltsie said.

The council now consists of three Republicans, two Democrats and two unaffiliated members.

“I wanted to make it clear to myself, to the city and to our stakeholders that the decisions I make as a school board member are with the children at the forefront of my mind, with the students, with schools,” Corcoran said. “I’m kind of free, as free as I can be, from politics.”

Corcoran said she does not represent any particular party, but rather students and staff in the school system. She said her responsibility was to them and she didn’t want political affiliations to interfere with her decision-making.

The change came a month after Corcoran was elected chairman of the board. She was elected to the main seat by a 4-3 vote, with support from Wiltsie and Democrats Janice Cupee and Lisa Carroll-Fabian.

A registered Republican at the time, Corcoran did not receive a vote from any of the remaining Republican BOE members – all of whom voted for Mike Henrick.

But Corcoran said no specific event prompted the change.

“My change of party was not triggered by any event, including anything that happened at the organizational meeting in December,” Corcoran said in an email. “I respect the votes of my fellow board members.”

Wiltsie, who is also chair of the BOE’s finance committee, expressed a similar reasoning for her change. She said the only reason she ran for the seat in 2019 was because of her “commitment to the youth of Stratford”.

“Our students deserve to be at the center of the work, and politics has no place,” Wiltsie said in an email. “One day I hope Stratford will join with other towns in allowing interested members of our community to show up unaffiliated.”

Democratic Registrar of Electors James Simon noted that the party affiliation changes removed the “clear majority” on the school board.

“Most Stratford residents would probably be happier if BOE members didn’t even have a party tag when they ran for office,” Simon said. “With these changes, no party will have a clear majority, and I would like to think it will free up BOE members to act in the best interests of students rather than voting with one eye on the political ramifications of decisions.”

Republican City Committee Chairman Lou DeCilio, who is also a Republican registrar, said he thought the change was “disappointing” for those who supported them during their campaigns.

“We ran their campaigns, we raised a lot of money for them, helped them win – the party that is – and obviously the voters put them in there elected them as Republicans,” he said. -he declares. “And so, I think they owe that explanation to the people who elected them.”

DeCilio also said that at the end of the day, they all want the best for the kids in town and “whether they’re Democrats or Republicans or unaffiliated, it doesn’t really matter. in one way or another”.

Both Corcoran and Wiltsie said they made the decision individually, but they just did it at the same time.

“I have full confidence in Andrea Corcoran to serve our city in her role as President, but I am acting for myself,” Wiltsie wrote in a text. “This decision came when I felt the expectations of my role as a party member superseded those of my job acting in the best interest of Stratford students.”

She declined to elaborate on what those expectations as a party member entailed.

Council members Cupee and Carroll-Fabian declined to comment. BOE members Henrick, Sean Kennedy and Kristen Bedell could not be reached for comment.

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