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Letter: Elevation of New School Board Member Was Way Too Political

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To the Editor:

The recent candidate elevation to the West Hartford School Board shows a warped process. [Editor’s note: LaToya Fernandez was appointed to the West Hartford Board of Education on Sept. 5, 2023. The vote was 4-0, with two abstentions.] The newly inducted member seems like a nice lady. But her views about policing are so wayward, her name should not have been put forth, or at minimum discussed publicly by the Democratic majority.

Her views were discussed at the Sept. 5 Board of Education meeting, but only by the Republican members. They candidly told fellow members and the public attendees why a prospective Board member’s views, which border on anti-Jewish, made her inappropriate for Board membership. Their votes on the new nominee were “abstain.”

Not so the Democratic Party majority. Only one majority member chose to address the problem of a prospective member’s thoughtfulness, and it was indirect, saying only that her past conversation with the candidate was satisfying. The rest of the majority party stayed silent, and voted to rubber-stamp the candidate’s nomination.

This was a triumph of politics, meaning a BAD result. An incendiary member is now part of a West Hartford governing board because of party line and no valid discussion. Not because her other views might overwhelm something minor. Not because her present views evidence a recanting of past waywardness (she was at the Sept. 5 meeting and had an opportunity to give a statement or reply to concerns).

The Democrat majority didn’t even address the candidate’s most searing view, about de-funding police. That alone is a disqualifier. Even in 2020, “Defund the Police” was an emotional outburst, not a cerebral thought. In late 2023, with enough time for even the hyper-emotional to reflect on good policy, “De-Fund the Police” remains one of Western civilization’s silliest ideas.

This is a Board of EDUCATION. It implies at least some fealty to REASON. Allowing a candidate to become a guide to West Hartford children, whose ideas contradict reason besmirches West Hartford. Allowing “party-line” to prevail without any reasoned debate (the majority pre-made the candidate’s name plaque) besmirches our school system. It puts a bad gloss on the third word in the term “Board of Education,” and moreover puts up a wall that leads to disharmony on a Board that should NOT be fractious. The Board’s president exudes niceness, but the majority’s actions thwart the president’s work.

The Republicans on the Board spoke and acted in the name of harmony. Both spoke graciously about the candidate, and in the attempt at future harmony voted to “abstain” rather than oppose. I’m still a Democrat, but it appears that the Republicans have here the better path to governing harmoniously and bringing effective policies to West Hartford’s children.

Mark Stewart Greenstein
West Hartford

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  • As of 7/14/23, Mr. Greenstein is a candidate for Mayor of Hartford. I see his campaign signs in the city. He seems to bounce back between our town and the city (and political parties) depending on the year and public office he is seeking.

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