Many eyes on the school committee
By Josh Resnek
It has been many a municipal election in Everett since there has been as much talk and interest about possible changes on the school committee.
Mind you, that is, possible changes.
Everett elections are not well known for dramatic, earthquake type results altering the complexion of the school committee or the city council.
This year, however, the potential for upsets and for natural change are abundant in the school committee lineup of incumbents and candidates.
Then pillar upon which all the arguable unrest hangs is the reappointment or the banishment of Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani.
Candidate sentiments about this big item – whether or not School Tahiliani can escape the present school committee’s Draconian refusal to extend her contract – is latently powering the school committee election lineup.
How might school committee contests be determined by this?
There is the arguable belief that Councilors at Large Samantha Lambert, Joe LaMonica and Cynthia Sarnie are safe in their seats.
However, a new councilor at large, at least one, is going to be elected, and most likely that would be a Tahiliani supporter like Guerline Alcy, or Samantha Hurley, two popular and attractive candidates.
And while the incumbents Lambert, Sarnie and LaMonica appear safe, there is no guarantee they are re-elected.
In Ward 1, incumbent Millie Cardello is feeling heat from Margaret Cornelio. If Cornelio were to dump Cardello, the balance of power would begin to change on the school committee.
Cardello’s effort to get rid of Tahiliani and Cornelio’s promise to keep her is a powerful influence for voters to ponder in this race.
In Ward 2, Jason Marcus is facing Joanna Garren.
Marcus has shown over a long career that he can, then he can lose and then he comes back again and again.
If this is Marcus’ time to lose and Garren’s time to win, another significant change would be achieved.
Marcus, of course, is against Tahiliani.
Garren, of course, would be in favor of keeping her.
Ward 3 is Jeannie Cristiano territory. She is unabashedly pro-Tahiliani.
Ward 4 is up for grabs, or so it would appear.
With Mike Mangan out of the race, anything can happen.
Thomas Messina and Robin Babcock are Tahiliani supporters.
James Mastrocola’s stance has not been articulated but it is taken for granted that he will not be supporting Tahiliani if he is elected.
In Ward 5, Marcony Almeida Barros is 100% a Tahiliani supporter.
And in Ward 6, if the return of Thomas Abruzzese becomes a reality, then there might actually be 6 votes for Tahiliani and only 4 for the opposition, which includes the mayor (who is a permanent voting member).
However, this presupposes that Daniel Skerrit, Pattiann Scalesse and Joe D’Onofrio are not going to be elected – and that is a bit of speculation that does not have much credibility.
Five votes for Tahiliani and five votes against works for the mayor and his forces to get rid of her.
Tie votes lose for those wishing to keep Tahiliani.
A 6-4 vote with new names occupying school committee seats is what is needed to save Tahiliani.
The decision for voters is this: do we get rid of Tahiliani on the basis of bad politics that has nothing whatsoever to do with public school educational competency or do we keep her by tossing out of office those who are against her?
In other words, does the bold faced effort to be rid of a qualified superintendent overcome the interest of those who don’t care about her qualifications, who in fact, want a new superintendent because they simply don’t like her?
We shall soon find out what the voting public thinks.