Four Democrats tabbed for Commissioner of Education open seats

— It was a Democratic sweep for the four open Commissioner of Education seats on the Syracuse City School District board, as Michelle Mignano, Max Ruckdeschel, Bill Bullen and Steve Swift will join the board in January.

With 8,570 votes (18 percent), Mignano won the popular vote, but her party mates weren't far behind. Ruckdeschel garnered 7,822 votes (17 percent), while the totals for Bullen (7,513; 16 percent) and Swift (7,510; 16 percent) reflected an expected strong showing by the Democrats.

Republicans Ed McLaughlin and Delilah Fiumara respectively finished with 5,636 (12 percent) and 5,093 votes (11 percent). Sarah Gilbert (RCI), who formally removed herself from the election in October for personal reasons, remained on the ballot and garnered 5,114 votes (11 percent). There were 57 write-in votes, bringing the total of voters to 47,315 in the off-year election.

Mignano, reached during a post-election celebration with her running mates at Pensabene's Casa Grande, said that savoring the victory would be brief.

"We already have homework from Superintendent [Sharon Contreras), and we are going to immediately start building relationships with the members of the (Common) Council, and also get out and talk to residents," said Mignano, a former Syracuse City School District crew coach. "It is certainly going to take the entire community to get this thing turned around."

The quartet of newly elected officials will join current board President Richard Strong, Vice President Patricia Body and Commissioner Monique Wright-Williams.

"We're very excited to begin working with the current commissioners," said Swift, who has a daughter at Nottingham High School and two older children who graduated from city schools. "They've already done some great things, like hiring a reform superintendent in Superintendent Contreras, which is what the district sorely needed.

"We're (the newly elected commissioners) businesspeople who will look at reform models and be able to help direct the superintendent and give her guidance. We need to become 21st Century schools."

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