We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running for election on Nov. 7, 2017.
Compiled by Ronni Newton
We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to “Meet the Candidate” – designed to help them get to know the candidates running for office in West Hartford’s Nov. 7, 2017, municipal election.
Identical questionnaires have been sent to all major party candidates, and each profile received has been submitted directly to We-Ha.com by the candidate or the candidate’s campaign management. The responses have not been edited but have been formatted to match our publication style. Questions left blank have been deleted.
As profiles are received, they will be published on We-Ha.com under the “Government” tab. We-Ha.com is not making endorsements of any political candidates but we are publishing this information in order to assist West Hartford voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 7.
If you are a candidate and wish to submit a profile, please return it by email to Ronni Newton at [email protected] as soon as possible.
Party, position seeking:Democrat, Board of Education
Family information:Married to Jerome. We have two daughters: Julianna (4th grade) and Gabrielle (1st grade), both students at Charter Oak International Academy
Other occupation, if applicable:Mental Health Therapist and Community Outreach Educator speaking on various topics such as effective communication, self-esteem, workplace etiquette, vicarious trauma and crisis management
Political experience: This is my first time running for a political office.
Other relevant experience:
- Parent Volunteer at Charter Oak International Academy
- Charter Oak PTO member: past Cultural Council Parent Representative and current Room Parent Coordinator
- Volunteer annually for Charter Oak’s Cultural Day Celebration
- Parent Leadership Training Institute Alumna, c/o 2016
- Professionally, works with children, adolescents, adults, and families striving to empower others to address challenges and improve their quality of life. This involves working collaboratively with parents/caregivers and community providers to address difficult and sensitive subject matters
Why are you running for office? I have lived in West Hartford for over 17 years and am committed to this town being the best it can be. My commitment only deepened after I married my husband Jerome and later became a mother. We knew we wanted to remain in West Hartford due to its excellent school system and enjoyable quality of life. I am proud to say our two daughters, Julianna and Gabrielle, are West Hartford Public school students and both attend Charter Oak International Academy. I am running for office for it is my utmost desire and priority that the youth in our town continue to receive quality education promoting the development of well-rounded youth, where excellence is defined by thriving academically, socially, and emotionally and where the values of learning extend beyond the walls of a classroom.
What issue(s) are your primary area of focus?
- Promoting the development of well-rounded youth where scholastic excellence is based on academic performance as well as ensuring youth are enriched socially and emotionally. I believe it is important for our youth to be confident in who they are, strong at their core, and demonstrate resilience when faced with a challenge.
- Preserving human connectedness where our youth are able to independently demonstrate social-skills beyond the use of modern technology (i.e. texting, social media, etc). Our youth were born into a world where advanced telecommunications was the established norm. Although these modern advances are convenient and of value, I am concerned that some youth depend on these tools as primary means to engage with others. We need to ensure our youth do not lose opportunities to engage with one another in human-to-human contact demonstrating appropriate use of social skills.
- Partnerships formed between the home and school recognizing how both must work together in educating our youth. It is important for the parents/caregivers of youth to have open lines of communication with the school, and vice versa between the school and home. The efficacy of this partnership will produce optimal and long-lasting benefits.
Several topics are likely on the minds of West Hartford voters this year. Please provide a brief statement regarding your opinion about:
- The Town of West Hartford budget – The Town of West Hartford’s budget demonstrates fiscal responsibility and forward thinking. The Town has upheld its commitment to maintaining an excellent school system all while being ranked 128th out of 169 cities/towns in per pupil spending. Maintenance of an excellent school system has not come without challenge, however. For years, West Hartford has not received its fare share in Education Cost Sharing (ECS); the Town has received less than 43% (~$16 million) per year in ECS funding. In spite of West Hartford having received decreased funding (in ECS), the Town has not lowered its standards with respect to prioritizing delivery of quality education for all youth.
- Regionalism – I do not believe regionalism will best suit the needs of West Hartford for the Town is large in student population and self-sustaining as is. West Hartford is a thriving town that educates over 9,700 students. The student population is vibrant and diverse culturally, ethnically, economically, and in ability levels. West Hartford continuously receives statewide and national rankings for its excellent school system, as well as wide-spread recognition for the specialized way it responds to the needs of the student population.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? I think an issue West Hartford is vulnerable to is not practicing what is preached when we talk about the strength of our town and the rich diversity that makes up West Hartford. It is important for residents to not view State imposed obstacles as signs of impending defeat, and instead view these obstacles as opportunities to overcome challenges. We cannot be complacent with matters that are beyond our immediate control. Additionally, we must remember West Hartford is a vibrant town defined by its rich diversity. These diverse threads connect us all and help to create the fabric we affectionately call home. We must take care of our home while remembering what makes our home so strong. As long as we stay resolute and maintain a forward thinking mentality, West Hartford will continue to thrive.
What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? The following example about my fondness for the sport of white water rafting symbolizes what differentiates me from the other candidates running for this position. It has been a number of years since I last went rafting; however, I will always cherish the valuable lessons learned the very first time I went. On that day before getting into our rafts, I vividly remember the instructor informing my friends and me what to do if we get thrown from the raft while in choppy waters. He said do not panic, do not try to swim to shore (because you could get injured by the rocks and current), stay calm, and maintain focus on trying to swim towards the raft. Later that day while on a Class V rapid (the second most difficult rapid), I was thrown from the raft. Remembering the instructions given to me earlier that day, I was able to safely swim back to the raft, climb back inside, and complete the rest of the ride. The instructions I learned years ago about white water rafting continue to guide me today as I apply those same rules to everyday life. In life, we are sometimes thrown off course when moving towards a goal. When thrown off course, we must not give up! Instead, we need to remain calm, stay focused and in faith, and continue moving towards that goal.
Anything else you would like to share?Thank you for taking the time to read my candidate profile and I hope to have your support on November 7th!
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