Norwich City Council debates, then makes Board of Education appointment

Norwich — The appointment of a Democrat to finish the remaining nearly five months of a vacant Democratic school board seat turned political Monday, with council Republicans immediately calling for a closed-door caucus prior to the vote.

Following the brief recess, aldermen debated at length whether to appoint former Democratic school board member Kevin Saythany to finish the remainder of the term of former board member James Maloney, who resigned after he was charged with forgery in connection with an insurance document submitted to the city for a matter unrelated to the school board.

Following the debate, aldermen voted unanimously to endorse Saythany.

The council’s three Democrats submitted the resolution nominating Saythany to the vacant seat, rather than the Republican-controlled Appointments and Reappointments Committee. Saythany was endorsed for the position by the Democratic Town Committee.

Appointments and Reappointments Committee Chairwoman Stacy Gould, a Republican, said she was “disappointed” that the DTC did not consider the second candidate, not named by the council Monday, who had expressed interest. Democrat Joseph DeLucia, the lone Democrat on the appointments committee, said that person’s name was never communicated to council Democrats or the town committee, calling it a failure to communicate.

Republican Alderwoman Joanne Philbrick questioned the appointment process itself, asking why it exists if the council won’t follow it. Saythany was not interviewed by the appointments committee, but his supporters pointed out that council Republicans did not interview candidates when making a Republican appointment to the school board in 2015 either.

The Board of Education vacancy was not listed on the city’s website under the category “Volunteer Opportunities,” which lists vacancies on other boards and commissions.

During public comment at the start of the meeting, several residents strongly recommended Saythany’s appointment, calling him knowledgable and concerned about the welfare of Norwich students.

Saythany, 27, served one term on the Board of Education from 2015 to 2017, when he ran instead unsuccessfully for City Council. Saythany then joined the nonprofit Norwich Education Foundation, which raises money for school programs. He was elected as president of the foundation in May.

Saythany said Monday night he plans to seek the town committee nomination for Board of Education Tuesday night, when the town committee will endorse candidates for the fall election.


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