NORWALK, Conn. – State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) has released a statement calling on Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis to not take the oath of office following his reelection.
“Unfortunately, the people of Norwalk did not have a chance to reject Board of Education member Mike Barbis and his hateful comments at the polls this Tuesday,” Duff said. “However, Mr. Barbis has the chance to do the right thing and not take the oath of office. It’s long past time for the city to move on from the constant divisiveness on the Board of Education and focus on the future of our children. I hope Mr. Barbis will do what’s best for Norwalk and not serve another term.”
Barbis is under fire due to an email he sent in June. A copy of the email was sent anonymously to Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams on Saturday, three days before the election. In it, Barbis calls South Norwalk Democrats a**** and defines opposition to a school construction plan as blacks versus Latinos.
Some say the email was sent to help Mayor Harry Rilling defeat Republican-endorsed challenger Lisa Brinton. Barbis had been openly campaigning for Brinton in the days before the election.
Barbis did not immediately reply to an email from NancyOnNorwalk asking for a reply to Duff’s statement. The state does not provide a legal mechanism for the Board of Education to remove Barbis from his post.
In 2015, then-BoE Chairman Jack Chiaramonte resigned from the Board of Education after racial comments he made on his private Facebook page became public via NancyOnNorwalk.
Barbis has refused previous NAACP calls for him to resign. The Norwalk Hour quotes him as saying this week that he will “absolutely not” resign, that District E voters endorsed him for reelection.
Barbis ran unopposed for reelection and received more than 2,300 votes. Mayor Harry Rilling has said that District E Democrats tried to find someone to oppose Barbis but failed. On Thursday, he said that Barbis has a stronghold in Rowayton and is thought unbeatable in a primary.
Norwalk Republicans did not endorse a candidate to oppose Barbis. Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda denies that the RTC had a “deal” with Barbis.