By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education this month appointed Karen Vassell-Campbell to fill a vacancy on the board.
Vassell-Campbell, a 48-year-old Democrat, will serve the remainder of Glenn Connan’s term on the board to the November 2021 election. Connan, a Republican, served on the board for nine years before resigning in July because he planned to move out of the borough.
“I hope we can all work together and keep it (school community) safe,” Vassell-Campbell said.
Vassell-Campbell, who has been a nurse for 17 years, works at a clinic owned by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation. She has lived in the borough for 14 years and is married with four children. Three of her children have gone through the Naugatuck school system, she said, and she has a daughter at City Hill Middle School.
Vassell-Campbell said she wants to serve on the school board because she could no longer sit on the sidelines. She said if someone has talents or concerns, they should try to put their hat in the ring and get involved.
“There are those who look at what is happening, those who wonder what is happening, and those who make things happen,” Vassell-Campbell said.
Board member Diana Malone abstained from the vote to appoint Vassell-Campbell during the board’s Aug. 13 meeting. She said over the past few years when Democratic board members resigned they were replaced by Democrats. She felt Connan’s replacement should have been a Republican.
The appointment changed the majority of the board to 5-4 Democrats, including Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, who sits on the board.
In a subsequent interview, Board of Education Chairman Jeff Litke, who is a Republican, said political party affiliation didn’t play a role in him personally choosing Vassell-Campbell. He said the board interviewed all five applicants, who submitted letters of interest and resumes, for the seat.
“Karen stood out for her beliefs and values on equity and inclusion, and also as a mother with a vested interest in the Naugatuck public schools,” Litke said.
The board also appointed Marilyn O’Donnell secretary and chairman of the finance committee, positions Connan previously held.
Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.