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Independent party BOE candidate wants to give his kids what he had

Andres Roman and sons
Andres Roman holds his two sons, 4-year-old Peyton, left, and 7-year-old Jaden, in his East Norwalk home. Roman serves in the National Guard and is running for a seat on the Board of Education as a Norwalk Community Values candidate. His running mate is BOE member Steven Colarossi.

NORWALK, Conn. – A Norwalk father running for the Board of Education without the help of a major party endorsement said he has faced adversity before and is prepared to work hard to give other people the opportunities he had when he was a child growing up in South Norwalk.

Andres Roman, who is running alongside current BOE member Steve Colarossi on the Norwalk Community Values ticket, said that he wouldn’t have the “luxury” life he has now if it weren’t for the education he got in Norwalk Public Schools and the opportunity he was given to play sports.

“I would have taken a different path in life if it wasn’t for the teachers I met along the way, including my ROTC instructor in high school, and coaches from Pop Warner to high school,” he said. “I wouldn’t have the motivation and the discipline I have today.”

Roman is currently a probation officer in Stamford and serves in the National Guard. The 35-year-old Brien McMahon High School graduate married Norwalk High School graduate Shannon McGarty nine years ago. They  live with their two sons in a three-bedroom East Norwalk home formerly owned by her grandparents.

He was one of five children, fourth born and the only boy. His mother came to South Norwalk from Puerto Rico in 1965, and became a single mother when Roman’s father left. Times were tough, and Roman took over making, sure his younger sister got to school and had her needs met. He considers himself a product of NEON (Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now).

He is a Republican, appointed to the Fair Rent Commission as an alternate about three years ago.

He began to consider getting involved in leading the school system after his oldest son, Jaden, now 7, entered kindergarten at what he called a “disadvantage.”

Jaden’s teacher at Marvin Elementary School was hired at the last minute, Roman said. There were no cubby holes in the classroom, and there were no books for the kids – they were given photo copies, Roman said.

He made phone calls, and met with then Assistant Superintendent Tony Daddona. Two days later, things had begun changing.

“That was good, but it just felt disheartening to have students to come in for their first day of school, first day of kindergarten, and already be behind,” he said.

Andres Roman plays with 4-year-old Peyton last week in his East Norwalk home.

Then came the discovery in April 2012 of a $4 million deficit in the Board of Education’s insurance accounts, and subsequent budget cuts. Jaden’s teacher, who was “very good,” was let go along with a lot of other teachers, Roman said.

“I felt it was uncalled for,” he said. “I felt that individuals had to take responsibility for it. It can’t be like, ‘Oh sorry, we made a mistake.’ We’re talking about a lot of lives have been touched, a lot of lives hindered at that time. … A lot of people are disgruntled and do not have faith in the Board of Education anymore. I can’t say everybody, just a majority of people I talked to prior to me actually running.”

He actually came close to running for the board two years ago, he said. Glenn Iannacone recommended him, he said, but at the last minute the Republicans decided to go with Mike Lyons.

“(That) was disheartening but I understood that I have to pay my dues,” he said. “Young individuals such as myself, nothing has ever come easy to me, nothing was ever handed to me and I know how to work hard for what I wanted. It was a blessing because it allowed me those years to really look at what was going on, with everything in Norwalk..”

He connected with Colarossi through Colarossi’s wife. They had a long conversation and realized they had similar goals: “Just two dads, living in Norwalk, taking pride in the city,” he said, “that just really want to find a way to give back and make a difference. I’m not here to gain anything politic-wise, I just want to make a difference. … It was kind of looking in the mirror basically when Steve and I talked. That’s how we connected, and we went full force to form a party.”

Those goals include responsible spending and listening to Norwalkers.

“Certain individuals are very quiet and keep things behind closed doors and want to keep it that way,” he said. “… It should be a two-way street. You should be giving a lot of information to the Norwalk residents and let them know what is going on. It seems like pulling teeth at times.”

Roman has seen the  school system from the inside as well, as he was a substitute teacher during the 2011-2012 school year. He was courted by Norwalk Democrats to be a BOE candidate this year, but decided to go the non-political, independent route with Colarossi.

The two candidates have had a fundraiser at the Pastime Yacht Club, are using social media and have campaigned at the train stations, Roman said. People are clamoring for yard signs, he said.

“Obviously, being an independent party we face challenges,” he said. “We don’t have the funding. There will be some voters that will just go up and just vote their party. We understand that’s a battle we have to face, but we are willing to face that head on – myself, I have faced many adversities in my life, and just feel that if we inform the Norwalk residents and give them the information they need, and really go out there and tell them who we are, I think that will make a difference. They’ll see the type of people we are and what we stand for and how passionate we are about Norwalk in general. Hopefully, the word of mouth, just spreading that out, hopefully will go like wildfire.”

Comments

3 responses to “Independent party BOE candidate wants to give his kids what he had”

  1. notaffiliated

    Wish all local candidates would be independents. This way, people vote on the candidate’s ideas vs just going in and checking DDDDDD or RRRRRR as so many people do.

  2. loveforthecity

    Some of his story sounds like Pena’s story. Glad to see folks from South Norwalk getting involved to make a difference.

  3. Tom Keegan

    Andres is a good man…does a good job in our Cal Ripken Baseball program…a very committed individual….
    I wish him the best of luck in the BOE election

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