After petitioning, Guilford GOP incumbents ready for contentious school board primary | #Education

GUILFORD — Driving through North Guilford, red signs urging Republicans to vote “Row A” in Tuesday’s upcoming primary line the road, and are on display in front of homes.

Closer to the center of Guilford, green signs displaying the challenging slate are mixed with red.

Republicans will have a chance to cast their vote Tuesday for their party’s Board of Education candidates, a choice between the caucus winners and a slate that petitioned for the primary to be held, which includes incumbent Republican BOE members.

The caucus winners, Tim Chamberlain, Nick Cusano, Bill Maisano, Aly Passarelli and Danielle Scarpellino, are running under the “5 Reasons Why” slate.

The slate is running under five key issues.

They want to stop what they view as the “indoctrination” of students in critical race theory and other so-called divisive initiatives, promote academic excellence using high-quality, rigorous, content-filled curriculum accessible to all students, exercise financial responsibility by examining expenses, and “ending the purchase of materials that teach hate, hopelessness, and division,” demanding transparency and cultivating student skills, according to the platform.

In July, this group ousted incumbents Joseph Golino, Ted Sands and Amy Sullivan, who have sat on the board as it supported Guilford Public Schools’social justice and equity movement, which some — including current GOP board member Kristen Peck — have referred to as critical race theory, a controversial academic framework through which to view systems of racism and oppression in America.

Guilford officials have denied that critical race theory is being taught in the town’s schools.

The 5 Reasons Why slate has sent out direct mail campaign literature, created a website and a Facebook page under the name “Parents for Guilford Students.”

On their Facebook page, the slate shared an interview they did with Fox News, political cartoons, articles and candidate biographies.

Requests for comment on their campaign to the five candidates were not returned.

The party-endorsed group is being challenged by a slate, Republicans for Education, that petitioned to trigger a primary as they learned of outrage directed toward the candidates who did win the endorsement.

Republicans for Education includes incumbents Golino, Sands and Sullivan, and newcomers Bill Mulligan and Jim O’Keefe.

Mulligan has worked with the school district before, serving as a member of the Guilford High School building committee. O’Keefe is a former Board of Finance member and former chairman of the Guilford Republican Town Committee.

O’Keefe wrote in an email on Wednesday that the group has been very busy organizing a “full-blown” political campaign since filing their challenging petition three weeks ago, adding the slate has done as much since mid-August as it would for the general November election.

The candidates visited all seven school buildings, sent letters to GOP voters, held a meet-and-greet, and served lunch to the seniors at the community center, O’Keefe wrote. Over the weekend, he said, they plan to go door to door and wave signs at a major intersection in town.

The group has also done public appearances, sent out direct mail campaign literature, created a website and Facebook page, and filmed videos for use on public access television.

“We are certainly getting a good response from mainstream Republicans, and, not so surprising, many unaffiliated voters who are changing their registration to Republican in order to participate in this particular primary,” O’Keefe wrote.

O’Keefe called the slates vastly different, stating that everyone featured on his slate has public service experience and has served the town before, unlike the caucus-endorsed slate, he said. Republicans for Education states they embrace a school system that takes a balanced approach to issues of equity, diversity and social justice, and claims their opponents do not.

“We have never been busier, but we are all enjoying the energy this primary has inspired,” O’Keefe wrote.

Republican Registrar of Voters Gloria Nemchuk told Hearst Connecticut Media on Thursday that since mid-August, 60 voters have registered as Republicans. Currently, there are 3,423 registered Republicans in Guilford — only 183 of which participated in July’s caucus.

Four years ago, in a primary for First Selectman, 29 percent of Republicans cast their vote. This could change, according to Nemchuk, who said the rate depends on the issue or the office.

Both slates will be on the ballot Tuesday. A sample ballot shows the five party-endorsed candidates on Row A and the other five on Row B. Voters can choose any five candidates they want, and do not have to vote straight across a row.

Registered Republicans can participate at their usual regular polling place. Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information, visit

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