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2019 Killingworth Candidates: Board of Education

We reached out to both the Killingworth Republican Town Committee and the Killingworth Democratic Town Committee and asked candidates to respond to a set of questions; if a candidate did not respond, their name is listed, so that you know who is running for each office. Updates from all candidates are welcome, and will be published as Letters to the Editor. The questions posed to the candidates were:

1.     Tell us a little about yourself.
2.     Why are you running for the position?
3.     What do you see as the important issues facing Killingworth and how would you address them in your role?
4.     What are the key things you love about this town and its people?
5.     Additional thoughts to leave voters with?
Joel D’Angelo

Joel D’Angelo (Democrat)

I have lived in Killingworth for eleven years with my wife Lisa and daughter Grace.

I hold a Ph.D. in Biology earned from Wesleyan University and have been a teacher and administrator at Hopkins School in New Haven for the past seventeen years.

During my eight-year tenure on the Board, I have served as Board Treasurer, Chair of the Finance Committee and two years as Chair of the Board of Education.

I am very proud that I have approached every decision posed to the Board with sound research and open dialog, weighing my primary responsibility to the students along with fiscal conservation. Prior to any vote that I cast, my first question has been (and will remain) ‘what is best for the students?’ That is where I believe all discussions should start.

My overall goal is and will be, to ensure our students receive the best education possible to prepare them for a world that faces unprecedented challenges. Overseeing a successful restructuring of our schools will be a particular goal of mine during the next year. I firmly believe we are on the right track that properly uses all of our facilities and capital resources and at the same time provide a high level of educational missions across all grade levels.

From the moment eleven years ago my wife Lisa and I visited houses to purchase in this town and have lunch at the Copper Skillet, we knew this was the town for us and our family. While I have watched a vigorous debate between our populous over the last decade or so, I always found solace in that all of those involved cared deeply about our town and its members. I can only add that I was (and continue to be) proud to be part of Killingworth and a member of its Board of Education responsible for steering this community’s next generation.

Graig Judge

Graig Judge (Republican)

Graig Judge has lived in Killingworth since 2008. He lives with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Fiona, who is a student at Haddam Killingworth Intermediate School. Graig has worked in Killingworth for his family’s business, Interstate Battery, since he was 11 years old (part time then, of course). Graig attended UConn and graduated in 2002 with a degree in History and Political Science.

Currently, he is the general manager of Interstate Battery here in town. Graig is also a proud member of the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company.

Graig is running for the Board of Education to ensure that his daughter and all of the children of RSD17 receive the best education the district can provide. Another one of Graig’s passions about education is the continued safety of our students and faculty.

Most importantly the current issues facing our district and town are budget concerns and infrastructure in a precarious economy.

I love the small feel of Killingworth, especially getting to know so many people in town through my service with the fire company.


Nelson Rivera

Nelson Rivera (Democrat)

My name is Nelson Rivera and I am running for a seat on the Haddam-Killingworth Board of Education. My wife Lisa and I have called Killingworth home for nine years. We have two children, Nelson and Olivia, both of whom attend Killingworth Elementary School.  As a parent and educator, I understand and appreciate the importance of high-quality public education for all children. With 20 years of experience in education, both as classroom teacher and school administrator, I believe I can contribute to our school community and would base my decisions on what is best for students.

I am currently serving as assistant principal at Oliver Wolcott Technical High School. I also have eight years of classroom experience teaching a variety of high school social studies courses. In addition to my work experience, I hold a Master of Education in Policy, Planning, and Administration from Boston University; a Sixth-Year degree in Educational Leadership from SCSU; and a Doctor of Education with a concentration in Curriculum, Teaching, and Leadership from Northeastern University. My doctoral dissertation was a case study examining college and career readiness skills.

I am running for a seat on the Board of Education because I want the best school system possible. A caring, student centered, and rigorous school experience does not happen by accident. Rather it takes collaboration, hard work, and a commitment to serve students. Our community as a whole is also better served when we offer a high-quality education for all children. And while we have much to be proud of as a district, I think we can do even better going forward by fostering more science, math and engineering initiatives, strengthening fine arts, music, and world languages programs, and expanding participation in dual enrollment programs such as UCONN ECE so high school students can earn transferable college credits at significantly reduced costs.

From an educational perspective, I believe we need to build on our successes as a district and find new ways to continuously improve student achievement. It is a critical time for the district, with both major leadership and structural changes, it is more important than ever to have a Board of Education that remains focused on supporting student success.

Killingworth is a great place to raise a family in a safe and supportive environment. There is a strong sense of community, quality schools, and easy access to numerous parks, beaches, and hiking trails. Residents are friendly and deeply care about the future our town. I truly believe it is the best kept secret in Connecticut.

As a member of the Board of Education, I would be committed to fulfilling the associated responsibilities with integrity, dedication, and transparency. The students of Haddam-Killingworth public schools deserve nothing less.

Suzanne Sack

Suzanne Sack (Unaffiliated, but endorsed by the Democrats & the Republicans)

The mission of the BOE remains constant: to sustain the best public education for our children in the most effective way using the resources generously offered by Haddam and Killingworth. The last several years have been particularly challenging in the face of financial constraints and declining enrollment; however, we have successfully maintained administrator and teacher excellence, introduced new programming, maintained small class sizes, and increased funding for special education all while managing our budget effectively. This has placed RSD 17 high in state rankings for educational performance and low in cost per student.

If we are to continue on this trajectory, we will have to stay focused on the mission and make smart decisions on the countless matters that come before the Board – school and curriculum design, health education, professional development, contract negotiations, and budget development, just to name a few. This demands an experienced and knowledgeable Board. Over the last four years I have served on the BOE as Treasurer and Vice Chair, and I have chaired the Finance, Personnel and Evaluation, and Strategic Capital Planning Committees. I’ve learned a great deal and have helped make these decisions that have contributed to our community’s families and to the district’s success. We are very well positioned to take the district forward in a positive fashion.

I feel strongly about the value of a public education, because I am the product of one, right up through college – with a BA in Business from the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Oswego. I currently serve on the SUNY Oswego Foundation Board, working for accessible public education for others.

For 25 years, I worked in financial services in three national firms, holding senior management roles including Regional President of a private bank. While working, I earned my MA from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.

Locally, I serve on the South Central Regional Water Authority Board and have chaired Killingworth projects such as the Community Conversation on Education and worked on fundraisers to benefit the Killingworth Library, the KVFC, and Youth and Family Services.

My education, professional and board experience built competence in board leadership, strategic/business planning, personnel management, problem solving, and decision making.

My husband, David and I have lived in Killingworth for over 20 years. We enjoy being a part of the community and love the outdoors. We moved here because of its rural beauty and have fallen in love with the good natured and thoughtful community members. The extraordinary good deeds that so many community members participate in and my love for education inspired me to run for the BOE four years ago and to run for reelection this fall. We really couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

As a politically unaffiliated voter and a 20+ year resident, I would like to continue to use my skills to serve our community and help our district and children grow. I hope you will give me your vote on November 5.

Editor’s Note 9/26: Added cross endorsement to Suzanne Sack.

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