NORWALK, Conn. — Hopes are high for the Norwalk Board of Education in the wake of Tuesday’s election.
“If we make the schools a little better every day, we’ll get to greatness faster than people expect. These things don’t change overnight, be we now have a very strong Board, a top-flight superintendent and central office, and a supportive Mayor and city government,” BoE Chairman Mike Lyons said Wednesday, after narrowly winning re-election over Democratic challenger Lisa Nuzzo.
Lyons won with 51 percent of the vote. In District A, Democrat Yvel Crevecoeur, Ph.D., bested Republican-endorsed Joe Perella with 55.6 percent of the vote. In District D, Republican incumbent BoE member Bryan Meek also had 55.6 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Haroldo Williams. Erik Anderson, who won the Democratic primary in District B, and incumbent Democrat Mike Barbis in District E, had no opponents in Tuesday’s election.
Crevecoeur had dropped out of consideration early in the process, discouraged by Democratic Party District A gamesmanship. When that news went public, a group of parents from the Facebook group Norwalk Parents for Education contacted him by email, he said.
“It motivated me to get back into it,” Crevecoeur said Tuesday. “Once I got back into it, I think that, even though I didn’t want to go through the primary, personally, I think in terms of the campaign it helped me because it gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of the voters. I am assuming that the voters started interacting and talking to each other, and it put my name out there. As everyone knows, I was a newcomer.”
“I think he’s a solid candidate,” Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Torrano said. “I am sorry that he is not a Republican, but he’s a solid candidate. I think the Board of Ed will be running much, much smoother than it was before. I think Mike Lyons will get more help than he needs.”
Torrano said Lyons’ win was not as narrow as it looks, given that Mayor Harry Rilling won with 62 percent of the vote and a lot of voters go straight across a party line in an election like that.
“That’s not surprising to me, and obviously he was able to weather the storm. I would say he weathered it because more people recognize how valuable he was to the Board of Education than not,” Torrano said.
“Based on a number trends at the margin Harry had, I had expected to lose by about 200 votes (C is far more Democratic than D); I was pleasantly surprised that I won (I had to run way ahead of the ticket to do so),” Lyons said in an email. “So, 4 more years of fun! This will be a much better Board to work with; I think it will be relatively smooth sailing with Dr. Adamowski.”
Crevecouer’s credentials impress many, but he said he’s looking forward to a team approach.
“I am hoping I can help shape everyone else’s thinking and over time we will build momentum, once we get to know each other and understand where we are coming from, so I am looking forward to it, building some relationships,” Crevecoeur said.
Williams, who ran in-district this time, also tried to get elected to the Board in 2013 as an at-large candidate. He’ll stay involved, but won’t run for office again, he said.
“I think I can use that effort somewhere else, work as an activist in some way to address the same issues,” Williams said. “I will look to see what is going to be the best way for me to work to improve the conditions that I believe need to improve. I won’t run for office.”