I’ve been meaning to write this since we were victorious on Election Night. I have finally caught my breadth and reestablished some normalcy in my life, but, I have been plunged into orienting and preparing to become an At-Large Member on the Buffalo Board of Education faster than expected. I must appreciate and reflect before moving onward. As I began writing last week, I found that I have a lot to appreciate and reflect on; therefore, I breaking this down into several blogs, beginning with Appreciation (Part 1).
I am first and foremost grateful to my wife, Alexus, and my two boys, Oliver and Leopold, for their patience and tolerance over the past several months, while I was on the campaign trail. My wife was not delighted for me to enter into this campaign, but she sacrificed and supported more than I asked for. I experienced much guilt the last few weeks being away from my boys. It hit hard the week before the election when I returned home after the boys were in bed and Oliver rushed downstairs in tears, hugged me, and asked, “when will this be over?” For this, I am so relieved that the campaign is over and I’m able to make up for lost time with family.
My mother and father have been incredibly supportive- watching the boys when my wife was working and I was on the trail, my mother serving as my campaign treasurer, and both of them taking a lawn sign shift on the West Side, early morning on Election Day. Thank you Mom and Dad for everything!
I could not have had two better people leading my campaign- Whitney Crispell (Campaign Manager) and Rachel Dominguez (Chief Strategist). Both, committed Buffalo Public School mothers, who are determined, resourceful, and tenacious leaders and who made this campaign so impactful and successful. We have been an incredibly collaborative team and I’ve learned so much from them. They ensured that we were approaching all aspects of the campaign in a thoughtful and methodic manner. I needed them to keep my reactions and message in check, but also to push me outside my comfort zone at times. I am so grateful for all that they did and for their spouses and children who also sacrificed- Sean, Vivian, Ceci, John, and Erdene.
One of Whitney’s first ideas when I asked her to be my campaign manager was to form a committee of core people who could serve the campaign. We assembled an amazing group of people, who committed much of their time with petitioning, phone calls, fundraising, post cards, lawn signs, organizing meetings/events, etc…Thank you to committee members- Christina Lyons (charter school parent), Chris & Nicole Marcello (BPS parents), Kate Steilen (BPS parent), Heather Leaderstorf (home-school parent), Jerry Turcotte (BPS parent), Nicole Herkey (Buffalo teacher), and Isabella Keegan (retired Buffalo teacher). I also want to thank other key volunteers who stepped up at critical times- Sami Cirpili (Buffalo teacher), Joan LoCurto (retired Buffalo teacher), Daniel Grzymala (BPS parent), Tera Mcelligot (BPS parent), Laura Lutchapershyn (BPS teacher) and Judy Fix (retired BPS administrator).
There are so many others who played roles in this victory. I have been really moved by the messages, calls, and social media comments that I received congratulating me after the election. The support for this campaign was profound and I am very grateful for all of it.
I want to recognize and thank other at-large candidates, those who were elected with me- Terrence Heard and Ann Rivera- and other at-large candidates who reached out to me after the election- Desmond Nalls, Tim Hartigan, and Jack Kavanaugh. I look forward to serving with Ann and Terrence and I hope that Desmond, Tim, and Jack stay engaged and continue their good work on behalf of our schools and students.
I am so grateful for my friends in the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization (not already mentioned)- Eve Shippens, David and Roberta Cates, Dennice Barr, Chris Salamone, Keith Jones, and Kate Haq. I would not be the same person, the same leader, the same advocate, and soon the same BOE member without them, our relationships, and experiences together. My time as BPTO Co-Chair will be coming to an end in June and I am excited to see BPS parents Rachel Dominguez step into lead as a Co-Chair and Danielle Grzymala as Secretary. I am confident that the BPTO will continue to thrive in lifting up and celebrating the good work in BPS, advocating for our children and families, providing cultural experiences to families, and fostering relationships between educators and families.
I am proud and grateful for the support of New York State United Teachers, Buffalo Teachers Federation, and the Area Labor Federation. I especially want to thank Louisa Pacheco for her coalition building, organizational talents and resourcefulness, finding my voice with my stump speech, and for just being a friend who was there to provide support and encouragement when needed.
Thank you to the following individuals and businesses who played a major part in the success of my campaign:
Johanna Dominguez for photography
Betsy Frazer for our logo and all of her amazing graphic design work
Rory Allen Zoom Copy
Keller Bros. & Miller
Holly Dickinson and her husband for our banner
Macky Moberly and Macky’s Shamrock Room
Ethan Cox and Community Beer Works
Elected Officials and Local Leaders
Thank you to the following elected officials and local leaders who supported me throughout this campaign:
State Assembly Members Sean Ryan and Pat Burke
County Executive Mark Poloncarz
County Legislator Chair April Baskin
County Legislator & now Judge Peter Savage
Common Council Members Joel Feroleto, David Rivera, and Joe Golombek
Erie County Democratic Committee Chair Jeremy Zellner & Executive Director Samantha Nephew
Democratic Zone Chairs- Bryan Ball, Hope Hoetzer-Cook, Greg Olma, Darien Prachett, Louis Eve, Fabio Seballos, Richard Finnegan, Ben Swanekamp, Jason Hurley, John Fracos, Jon Rivera, Mike Augistino, John Amodeo
Board of Education Members: Sharon Cottman, Lou Petrucci, Hope Jay, Jen Mecozzi, Theresa Harris-Tigg, Barbara Seals-Nevergold
Lastly, thank you to everyone who voted and the many out there who helped in some way, big and small. It all made a difference and helped in our success!
BOE Member Elect