WALLINGFORD — Board of Education candidates shared personal statements Wednesday during an abbreviated forum, hosted by Wallingford Community Women.
All school board candidates opted to read prepared statements this year instead of answering live questions. Wallingford Government Television recorded video for broadcast and archival online.
There are 12 people running for nine seats on the school board. Four current members are not running for re-election, including Democrat Patty Pursell and three Republicans — Karen Hlavac, Autumn Allinson and Erin Corso.
Incumbent Democrat Patrick Reynolds did not attend. Forum moderator Jeanne McFarland read a statement by Reynolds. The rest of the candidates spoke in alphabetical order, regardless of party.
Reynolds touched on many topics, including budget concerns, new initiatives, school renovation plans, support for college alternatives and staff diversity.
Kathy Castelli, Democratic incumbent, spoke about the potential consolidation of the town’s two high schools into one facility, saying she “would like to see a committee formed to do a deeper dive into both proposals.”
Rajan Doering, Republican newcomer, is making his second bid for a seat on the school board. He said that being “an active member of the community … gives me a broad perspective of our needs and values.”
Jacqueline McFarlane, Democratic newcomer, said that taxes should be treated as an investment in the future of children, and that “the key to drawing families back to Wallingford is through a strong education system.”
Jen Passaretti, Republican newcomer, said that as a college professor, “I see the products of the education system from the other side, and I bring a unique perspective to help our students succeed post high school.”
Tammy Raccio, Republican incumbent, spoke about the need for students and staff “to feel supported, to accelerate learning, maintain physical health, and establish social-emotional connections.”
Maureen Reed, Democratic newcomer, said that she wants the board to “work with the Town Council, the mayor and the state to complete our process, and move forward to improve the facilities for our children.”
Donna Regan, Republican newcomer, spoke about the state mask mandate for students, saying that while she believes parents and teachers should have the right to choose, “I want to focus on the issues that the board can control.”
Marla Roscoe, Republican newcomer, said that her experience as a mother and her research into running for school board made her “realize that I’m passionate about education and the manner in which it is delivered to my children.”
Ray Ross, Republican incumbent, said that he’s “fully committed to ensuring that our school system has the resources necessary to provide our kids with a safe, supportive, and well-functioning learning environment.”
Mike Urban, Democratic newcomer, spoke about how his job as an occupational therapist has allowed him to learn skills in finance management, which would allow him to “[advocate] for our teachers, our students and ultimately our taxpayers.”
Mike Votto, Democratic incumbent, is the longest-serving board member at 20 years. He said his tenure in the board has involved “a myriad of tasks that have given me the experience and expertise needed to be an active and knowledgeable participant.”