NEW BRITAIN - The Common Council unanimously voted to appoint former Republican Alderman-at-Large Jim Sanders Jr. to the Board of Education Wednesday.
The seat was vacated when Republican Grisselle Aponte resigned last month.
The Republican Town Committee had recommended former board member Miriam Geraci for the seat.
Although the town committees make recommendations to the council for appointees from their parties, the Common Council has the final say on Board of Education appointments.
Democrat Carlo Carlozzi, the majority leader of the council, moved to amend the resolution to replace Geraci with Sanders. The amendment and the resolution to appoint Sanders passed.
“Our caucus had met and we felt we needed somebody on the Board of Education that had a strong financial record and would look out for the spending to keep that in line,” Carlozzi told The Herald on Thursday. “The caucus felt that Jim Sanders would keep that on the top of his mind. He also follows 32 years of his father’s service on the Board of Education and we felt he would be the best candidate that we could get to serve in that capacity.”
Sanders said he was surprised when he watched the meeting.
“One of the things I’m looking forward to is building a working relationship between the Board of Ed and the city like never before,” Sanders said. “We’ve been talking about that as a town committee for years and it’s finally going to happen because I’ll be the one to make that happen.”
Sanders said he’s interested in exploring ways the city and school district can consolidate and combine services to save money. He also said it’s important that the Board of Education work toward building parent participation in the district. Increasing self-esteem and confidence in elementary and middle school students will also be a focus of his while on the board.
On Tuesday, RTC Chairman Tony Cane told The Herald that Geraci’s prior experience on the board, her experience as a business-owner and experience as a parent were factors in her recommendation.
“I wasn’t surprised. I had a feeling that was going on,” Geraci told The Herald on Thursday.
Geraci said she wanted to get back to being involved with serving the community and the children of New Britain.
“I’m really dedicated to the city and wanted to get back involved,” Geraci said. “When I saw the seat needed to be filled, I applied. I ran (for the Common Council in 2017) to try to make a difference at a different level as opposed to running for re-election on the board.”
Geraci said she doesn’t understand why her credentials weren’t good enough for the appointment, but said she’ll remain committed to the city.
Sanders told The Herald on Tuesday that the RTC’s interview process had been unprofessional. Sanders said Cane questioned Sanders’ relationship and ability to work with the mayor during the interview.
Sanders said he told Cane his relationship status with the mayor wasn’t important for the appointment; the appointment should be based on his record in the city.
As to his record, Sanders pointed out he was the second highest vote-getter on the Republican ticket in last November’s election with more than 3,900 votes, though he lost his alderman-at-large re-election bid.
Cane said his questions during the interview were relevant, and that a good relationship between the mayor and the Board of Education is what the RTC wants.
Cane said that as candidates came forward to apply, he informed the mayor and got her opinions of them.
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