After Steve Reiter's thrashing of Fred Newlin in the Lewiston Supervisor race, one issue seems to continue to be the talk of the town, and it centers around a member of the Lewiston-Porter school board. Keep in mind, Lew-Port has had the most dysfunctional board of education in the county over the past few years, and it appears that the shenanigans haven't subsided one bit.
This time it’s board newcomer April Fideli who crossed the line. You’ll remember that April and her running mate, Wendy Swearingen ran a campaign that focused on bringing “an end to the dysfunction and infighting” amongst board members. They were strictly going to focus on the “needs of the children.”
Well all that ended on the eve of the Lewiston Supervisor election , when Mrs. Fideli’s voice was heard in homes all over Lewiston on a political phone call endorsing Fred Newlin as her choice for supervisor.
There were two problems with this phone call – 1. She addressed herself on the call as a member of the Lew-Port Board of Education and 2. – she doesn’t live in Lewiston.
A member of the town GOP committee questioned Fideli via email and received the following response from her:
“I have done a great job looking out for our children's best interest. When I ran to be a school board member no where did it say I had to give up my civic right to be involved with my community. I was in no way using the school board to promote Town Politics . I was simply identifying myself. I never said that I was representing the School District s beliefs, that was your interpretation.(And if this call had been for your candidate, I'm sure you would not have minded at all).
I have done nothing wrong, I stand by MY decision to make the call and you will receive no apology from me.”
Well, you should apologize, April. School board members that I have worked with continuously boast of their belief that school boards and their elections are apolitical. In fact, I've never heard of a school board candidate running on a political party line. There's a reason for that.
If you want to delve into local politics, knock yourself out. But to utilize your position as a member of the school board to attempt to influence the outcome of a race is wrong - and that is exactly what you did when you identified yourself as a member of the school board. Like it or not, when you say that you're a member of the school board in your call, you ARE representing the entire board. If you had simply stated your name without the school board reference, you'd have been fine - but you didn't.
Our sources have informed us that this issue is likely headed to the New York State Department of Education for review - good, it should.
So much for "focusing on the needs of the children", eh April?