School board candidates who’s really on the ballot?
Fourteen candidates have entered the race along with five incumbents in what may be one of the most contested district seat races ever in the up-coming School Board elections on May 4th.
Two Hispanics submitted nominating petitions Dr. Patricia E. Devis for
North District and School Board President and incumbent in the West District Ralph Hernandez in his third three-year term also submitted petitions but challenged yet don’t know if he is on the ballot though he may be another political casualty of Democratic operatives opposed to the Superintendent James A. Williams.
Hernandez faces Philip Lomax each challenging each other’s petition in what may turn out to be a write-in campaign again in the West District seat if they knock each other off as reported in Artvoice on Tuesday, April 20th.
Mr. Hernandez is a swing vote but since assuming the presidency of the School Board aligned himself with the faction supporting the controversial Superintendent Dr. James A. Williams whose five-year tenure has been a stormy one the School Board divided five to four between the faction who supports him and those opposed to him. His contract ends next year in 2011 though seen schmoozing around town with various groups in the community, garnering support for the Board to extend his contract another three years until 2014.
In the Central District, fire fighter, Bryon J. McIntyre who ran a successful campaign for an at-large seat lost to the two incumbents Christopher Jacobs and Florence Johnson in one of the most costly, contested and politically partisan elections ever in the history of the School Board last May where eight candidates including Dr. Devis were unable to overcome well-financed incumbents and newly elected at-large John Licata endorsed and assisted by Democratic party operatives.
In the Central District McIntyre faces the incumbent Ruth Kapsiak aligned with the faction supporting the superintendent and his educational plans for the district. McIntyre challenged her nominating petitions and she may be off the ballot as reported in Artvoice for “signatures attributed to the supposed occupants of long-abandoned houses, to dead people, and many pages illegally witnessed by folks not citizens of Buffalo.”
Also, running in the Central District is Jim Williams the former President of the Buffalo Substitute Teacher’s Union unlikely to garner much support as he had a short tenure as the head of the union , supporting contractual changes unfavorable to teachers, especially presiding over negotiating away the extra pay substitute teachers used to get for working in the same assignment for five consecutive days though substitute teachers voted for the contract. McIntyre may be the only one on the ballot in the Central District.
The Central District and the West District both have a large Hispanic population important to the success of the incumbent Ruth Kapsiak the Hispanic Alliance endorsed three years ago, and still she has not adequately answered Lourdes Iglesias, Executive Director of Hispanics United of Buffalo request for information about hiring of Hispanics in the Buffalo Public Schools.
African-Americans and Hispanics both long suspected a pattern of discriminatory hiring practices at the Buffalo Board of Education that Chris Stevenson, African-American columnist for the Challenger newspaper, described as “racist hiring and promotional practices” in his column, “Buffalo School Board Backlash after the School Board Election” May 2009, in his blog Buffalo Bullet. The irony is it has continued under the stewardship of a School Board composed of four African-Americans and one Hispanic.
In the East District iincumbent Vivian Evans faces Theresa A. Harris-Tigg President of the Metro Buffalo Alliance of Black School Educators. Evans is one of the staunchest supporters of the superintendent. Dr. Harris-Tigg an English Professor at Buffalo State College involved with a group of parents of candidates who took the fire fighters test last fall but fail to make the class in what may be a pattern of discrimination reported on WIVB.com.
Dr. Harris-Tigg may just beat out the incumbent Evans whose combative style and aggressive approach toward some of her colleagues on the School Board led Pamela D. Perry-Cahill, Ferry District representative to file a criminal complaint against Vivian Evans in a case before City Judge James A.W. McLeod though later dismissed where she claimed physical intimidation.
Evans blocked her from entering a City Hall elevator on December 17, 2008 after she planned to bring a resolution to the Board calling for reforms at the defunct Academy School 44, an alternative school in the East District.
Perry-Cahill faces Kinzer Pointer in the Ferry District whose a coordinator at the Enterprise Charter School, the Buffalo Board of Education funds and whose contract it decides whether to extend, making his candidacy a conflict of interest seen as another staunch supporter of Superintendent James A. Williams.
Perry-Cahill the incumbent had a fall out with the faction supporting the superintendent aligning herself with the faction opposed to him, if so she may get some support from the Democratic operatives associated with the campaign of Lawrence Scott and Nugent-Panepinto via Marc Panepinto one of these operatives and her husband.
The North District is just as contentious the incumbent Catherine Nugent-Panepinto stepping down to pursue a judgeship. Dr. Devis survived the challenged to her petitions from Lawrence Scott the candidate Delaware District councilman Michael Locurto, Niagara District Councilman David Rivera, Erie County Legislator Maria Whyte, and newly elected Board Member John Licata endorsed on his website and Facebook page.
Some question whether the playing field is a level one when elected officials such as in the case of Lawrence Scott with all the endorsements he already garnered fair to the other candidates? And if the School Board elections are non-partisan why is it happening and how is it stopped since it does put the others at a disadvantage?
And the political stew is getting hotter and heated as Democratic operatives from Nosotros, a Hispanic political group aligned with Councilman David Rivera, Grassroots aligned with Mayor Brown, and the Unity Party aligned with “Champ” Eve back candidates in this volcanic School Board election sure to be the most memorable as it comes before key political races in November.
Devis and Scott both want to be endorsed by the Buffalo Teacher’s Federation though Devis got a telephone call Wednesday night from Edith Lewin, Vice President of the BTF asking her if she would step down if they endorsed Scott both members of the New York State United Teachers as to not divide the vote.
The other two candidates in the North District Jay McCarthy challenged the petitions of Matthew Ricchiazzi formal mayoral candidate while neither McCarthy and Scott suffered challenges to their petitions.
It’s good to be the incumbent in the Park District Lou Petrucci, a supervisor in the City Inspection Department who is running unopposed.
There is an up-coming School Board candidates forum on April 27th. It would be interesting to see what candidates finally survived the petition challenges. School Board elections this year are May 4th, 2010. Friday, April 23, last day to register to vote or change registration. Candidates e-mail any up-coming School Board forum dates to email@example.com