Thursday, February 23, 2006

Board of Ed Filings Due Monday

A filing deadline is looming for school board seats, but so far few petitions have been dropped off at the Madison Avenue business office, staff said.

Three three-year seats are up for election on April 18 and petitions must be submitted by 4 p.m. Monday (Feb. 27, 2006).

In recent years, the board has become a barometer of political influence, even though the elected board was supposed to remove politics from the previous system of direct mayoral appointments. Last year, an independent slate that gained the support of former Mayor Albert T. McWilliams won out in April over one endorsed by Assemblyman Jerry Green, who won back chairmanship of the Democratic Party in June.

In 2003, Green’s slate of Sharon Robinson-Briggs, Bishop Herbert Bright and Lisa Logan-Leach prevailed. Since then, Robinson-Briggs was elected mayor and had to vacate the seat, which was won recently on an interim basis by David Graves, who twice ran for a committee seat with McWilliams' New Democrats.

After Bright resigned, Patricia Barksdale ran for the unexpired term and she won in April 2005.

Two other candidates that ran against Green's slate, Vickey Sheppard and Bridget Rivers, also won seats in 2005.

The vote for Graves last month gave the McWilliams faction an edge, but the filings Monday and the April 18 election will tell the tale of which brand of Democrats is in charge for the future.

Community activist Rasheed Abdul-Haqq filed for both the interim seat and the three-year seat before going in for knee surgery last month. Because he could not appear at a board interview due to his medical problems, he lost out on the interim term. But now mostly recovered, he said he is ready to campaign for a full term.

Abdul-Haqq minced no words in his assessment of the situation Thursday.

“I want to see a board that‘s independent of local politics,” he said. “A board that‘s focused on the difficult task of educating all of our students. When I say independent of local politics, I mean independent of Assemblyman Jerry Green.”

Green, the self-styled mentor and campaign manager of Robinson-Briggs, did not answer calls Thursday.

--Bernice Paglia & Barbara Todd Kerr

KEYWORDS: School board, elections


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