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2023 Candidates: RSD 17 Board of Education/Haddam

(October 4, 2023)—We reached out 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 candidate’s reply is unchanged from the original as submitted. and Haddam Killingworth News are not responsible for errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling. The questions posed to the candidates were:

  • Tell us a little about yourself.
  • Why are you running for the position?
  • What do you see as the important issues facing your town and how would you address them in your role?
  • What are the key things you love about this town and its people?
  • Additional thoughts to leave voters with?
Sidney Blackmon (R)

Sidney Blackmon (R):

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a native of Connecticut and have lived her with the exception of my time serving in the United States Marine Corps and the CT National Guard. I moved to Haddam in 2016 in large part due to the excellent school system as well as the small town atmosphere to raise my children.

Why are you running for the position?

I have a vested interest in Haddam schools as my boys (ages 10 & 12) are enrolled in grades 5th and 7th respectively. additionally with my wife being a teacher, I am aware of the challenges facing the education system as a whole.

What do you see as the important issues facing your town and how would you address them in your role?

Balancing limited school resources with the educational needs of the students in an effort to continue the tradition of excellence within district 17 that drew me and my family to Haddam.

What are the key things you love about this town and its people?

I love the convenience of Haddam’s location, while maintaining the small town feel. I love that I can get a chance to actually know people throughout the community.

Additional thoughts to leave voters with?

If you vote for me, I will work tirelessly to ensure the best educational environment for our community.

Shawna Goldfarb (R)

Shawna Goldfarb (R):

Tell us a little about yourself.

My family and I have lived in Higganum for the last 8 years. I have two boys that attend HKHS, a Senior and a Sophomore. I have been a long-time volunteer with our schools and in the Haddam community. I work for King Arthur Baking as the Northeast Regional Sales Manager, managing a multi-million-dollar region providing sales, technical baking support and even planning. I also work closely with special education and local advocacy groups to learn and teach working with special needs children.

Why are you running for this position? (Why are you seeking re-election for this position)

I am very eager to continue my work on the RSD17 BOE. I have been fortunate to have helped with the big strides the district has taken with Special Education, Budgets and Community Communication. However, we have a lot more that needs to be done. There is much work to complete on our Master Planning, Financials and Strategic Plan. I want to continue being part of this process, ensuring the RSD 17 community has a voice in these major decisions.

What do you see as the important issues facing your town and how would you address them in your role?

With regards to my role, there are a couple of issues that our school district is facing. The first is addressing our district buildings. Specifically, our elementary schools and high school. These buildings are aging and just not being used as they should be. They are either too full, not full enough or just having major maintenance issue. The second would be continuing to address educational options for all student learning types. Between better resources for faster learning students, to having internships for our students that succeed with real hands-on learning, we have a way to go.

What are the key things you love about this town and its people?

Our town is just one big family. I love how we fight but still would do anything for each other. We all have our personalities, but all want to make our town better. As we have and continue to grow our beautiful Haddam, our people make sure that our town shows off who we are.

Additional thoughts to leave the voters with?

Our school district is one our largest jewels. I have had the honor to help begin to polish that jewel the last four year and would value the opportunity to continue making it shine. Please allow me the opportunity to continue to use my knowledge in business, Special Education and experience as a BOE board member to help build the best educational environment for all students, strive to push fiscal responsibility, and continue to provide open communication.

Jennifer Favalora (R)

Jennifer Favalora (R):

(Endorsed by both the Haddam Republicans and Haddam Democrats)

Four years ago, I joined the Board of Education with a clear mission: to shape the future of our District and enhance communication with the residents of Haddam and Killingworth.

Through my dedicated efforts, our community now enjoys regular updates from the Board. These updates include monthly meeting summaries and accurate articles about the school budget. It was of paramount importance to me to reach as many townspeople as possible, including those without students in our district. To achieve this, we expanded our communication outreach and introduced an email sign-up system.

Recently, my primary focus has been the development and implementation of a comprehensive five-year Strategic Plan, meticulously crafted based on valuable community feedback. This plan serves as our guiding light, outlining our vision, priorities, objectives, and strategies for the future.

Being a part of the Board of Education demands a significant commitment of time and effort. I proudly serve as the Board Vice Chair, contribute to five subcommittees, sit on our negotiations and master planning teams, and hold the highest attendance record on the Board.

Our District faces pivotal decisions, and I am seeking re-election with bi-partisan support, to ensure the successful execution of our Strategic Plan with unwavering fidelity and accountability. I am deeply grateful for this close-knit and supportive town, where our residents are engaged in shaping our community, and it would be an honor to represent Haddam once more on the Board of Education.

Brenda Buzzi (D)

Brenda Buzzi (D):

I have lived in Higganum most of my life and am a fourth-generation resident. I graduated from HKHS, as did my two daughters. I have been an RSD#17 student, parent, volunteer, and employee. I enjoy gardening, reading, writing, painting, the beach, walking at Haddam Meadows and the Higganum Cove. I am a Social Worker providing therapy for children. I have many volunteer experiences, including being on the Board of Education.

RSD #17 strength is that it is awesome. We have the best teachers and staff who are dedicated to the students. We have a strong, and solid curriculum. We provide a vast array of extra-curricular choices, ranging from the arts, automotive, sports, AP classes and so forth. There is something for everyone!

My concerns run vast within the BOE. My focus is to be the voice for the teachers, staff, students, and YOU. I know we do not always agree but we all want what is best for RSD 17 and our wonderful town. I will continuously bring you approachability, honesty, transparency, humor, and rationality to the BOE. I am a call or email away. I greatly appreciate your support!

Heather Pach (D)

Heather Pach (D):

My husband and I moved to Haddam 21 years ago. We were looking to begin our family in a small town with great schools. We now have a college Junior and a Senior at HKHS who have significantly benefited from their excellent education in RSD 17. We personally are so grateful to the amazing teachers our children have encountered along the way and to excellent programs such as Project Lead the Way and the MS and HS Drama and Music departments. We are grateful for a district that encourages all students.

This is my 28th year working in public schools. First, as an elementary classroom teacher, and for the last 21 years as a school psychologist, 11 of which were spent as the school psychologist at HKMS. I believe in public education, our excellent teachers in HK, and most importantly our students.

There are some things we are doing quite well and there is always room for improvement. It is important to me that as we move forward and address issues facing our students (mental health, substance abuse, etc.) and our district (the need for a plan for facilities, and to address the exodus of teachers, etc.) we do it with transparency, honesty, teamwork and respect for others. Our children deserve to live in a community where the adults can work together to find the solutions for them and the educational experts who work so hard in the classrooms every day.


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