Friday morning I attended the Middletown Board of Education’s Candidate Forum at Panera Bread in Middletown. This last of three forums was hosted by Stephanie Murray of the Middletown Mornings organization. When I got there Friday morning I didn’t quiet know what to expect in the respect of turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised to see over thirty people in attendance.
Ms. Murray opened the forum by having each candidate take a minute and a half to introduce themselves and explain why they felt they should be elected to the BOE this year.
Six of the seven candidates were in attendance and in order of their opening remarks are:
Chris Aveta, who is running on the same ticket as Mascone and Brand was not in attendance Friday morning.
I recorded the meeting in its entirety and was going to break it all down into individual questions and answers, but because I have been hit with some kind of “Bug” that attacked me late Friday night and have been in bed since, I have decided just to post the whole recording.
It runs for 46 minutes but seems to play faster than that. The meeting was fast paced and kept all of those there engaged.
For me the only real news that came out of the forum was that each candidate agreed that the this years school budget should be passed by voters on Tuesday. Failure to pass the budget would only mean more drastic cuts that would penalize students and teachers alike.
After the forum was over I mingled amongst the crowd and spoke to a few candidates. I had a very nice conversation with Mike Mascone and Vinnie Brand, both of whom were polite and cordial but who took exception with me for my earlier blog post that accused them and their running mate Chris Aveta of being lap dogs for Middletown Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore and the Middletown GOP.
Each profess that they had only met Fiore no more than three times and wouldn’t even recognize him if the saw him in the street, which I took with a grain of salt put didn’t pursue.
I told each of them that my problem wasn’t with them as individuals but with the perceived endorsement of Fiore, who signed Brand’s
school board petitions.
Brand thought that it wasn’t a problem and that Tony Fiore (or anyone else for that matter) should be able to openly endorse his candidacy if they so chose.
I disagreed with that statement and I let them know that for years the Middletown GOP has tried to gain influence over the Middletown BOE to varying degrees of success. And when they did gain control several years ago with their “Back To Basics” slate of candidates it was a disaster. The expansion and upgrades to Bayshore, Thorne and Thompson Middle Schools were over budget and wrought with problems, and contract negotiations ended when over 200 teachers were sent to jail.
In my opinion, there is no room for partisan politics on the school board and just having the Deputy Mayor’s signature on both Brand’s and Aveta’s petitions is enough to raise doubts in my mind and others.
Fiore’s signature on those petitions poison Brand’s, Mascone’s and Aveta’s candidacy for the board of ed no matter how sincere Vinnie Brand’s and Mike Mascone’s insistence to me that they are there own men and that they would not be influenced in any way by Fiore or other members of the Middletown GOP.
With that being said, listen to the audio and make up your own mind, but most importantly vote “YES” for the budget and vote for the candidates that you think will be the best representative for your and your child’s best interests on Tuesday April 20th