Meet the candidates: Westbrook Public Schools’ BOE

Photo of Christine DeRosa
Westbrook High School graduation in 2019. 

Westbrook High School graduation in 2019. 

File photo

WESTBROOK — There are four candidates running for Board of Education for Westbrook Public Schools.

Running for the open seats are incumbents Donald Perreault, Republican, and Mary Ella Luft, Democrat, and challengers Andrew Miesse, Republican, and Haifa Jill, Democrat.

Leading up to the Nov. 2 election, Hearst Connecticut Media requested the Democratic and Republican town committees to ask their candidates complete a brief survey about their background and why they are running for office.

Here are the responses to the survey received by the deadline:

Mary Ella Luft

Mary Ella Luft

Mary Ella Luft

Westbrook Democrats / Contributed photo

Town/City: Westbrook

Party affiliation: Democratic

Age: 64

Current job/employer: Registered Nurse

The top issue you will address if elected: High-quality education, college and career pathway creation.

Other issues you feel are important: Responsible budgets and school community.

Tell us about your family: Married, Husband Lee, Children Sarah, Kaitlyn.

Elected offices held or community groups involved with: Board of Education, Democratic Town Committee

Why are you seeking public office?: I am seeking re-election to the Board of Education to give back to the community I’ve called home for 24 years. My last six years as a board member have been a meaningful opportunity to support students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Haifa Jalil

Haifa Jill

Haifa Jill

Westbrook Democrats / Contributed photo

Town/City: Westbrook

Party affiliation: Democrats

Age: 55

Current job/employer: New Haven Board of Education

The top issue you will address if elected: Low enrollment- STEM careers, college readiness.

Other issues you feel are important: Social emotional learning, vaccines and COVID.

Tell us about your family: All my three children attended Westbrook public schools, and they graduated and completed undergrad and grad schools. I am a resident of Westbrook for 23 years. Currently live with my husband Ali Jalil.

Elected offices held or community groups involved with: Currently I am involved with the Democratic Town Committee.

Why are you seeking public office?: I would like to share my experience in education and advocate for all students from all different backgrounds. Also, to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the decision making process to benefit the students, the parents and the community.

Campaign website: www.westbrookdems.com

Donald Perreault

Don Perreault

Don Perreault

Contributed photo

Town/City: Westbrook

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 57

Current job/employer: Teacher Valley Regional High School Deep River

The top issue you will address if elected: Maintaining high performing schools.

Other issues you feel are important: Fiscal responsibility through prudent budgeting.

Tell us about your family: My wife Kristen and I have lived in Westbrook since 1998 where we have raised our two sons, Daniel and Jacob. We moved to Westbrook for all that a small town had to offer. A small town has allowed us to know our neighbors, be involved in our community, and enjoy all that a shoreline town has to offer

Elected offices held or community groups involved with: Board of Education 2015-present; Retirement Board 2014-2015

Why are you seeking public office?: Want to continue to be an active member of the Board of Education serving on the Negotiations, Insurance, Long Range Planning, and Teaching & Learning Committees. It is through my committee work that I can make a difference in our public schools and bring the taxpayers of Westbrook a fiscally responsible budget.

Andrew Miesse

Andrew Miesse

Andrew Miesse

Westbrook Republicans / Contributed photo

Town/City: Westbrook

Party affiliation: Republican

Current job/employer: Engineering manager, Medtronic

The top issue you will address if elected: Promote and support the potential of every student.

Other issues you feel are important: Optimizing school funding for students and staff.

Tell us about your family: My wife, Emily, is a nurse practitioner and we have three children: Samuel, 9, Oliver, 7 and Margot, 4. We enjoy outdoor activities and sports. We have a dog, Levi, that also enjoys our active lifestyle.

Elected offices held or community groups involved with: Westbrook Little League board member.

Why are you seeking public office?: Often those with education backgrounds seek Board of Education positions. My technical and analytical engineering background will diversify the Westbrook BOE and be valuable when making fiscally responsible, data-driven decisions. Also, with three children currently going through the school system, I have a vested interest in making sure we maximize opportunities for our future leaders.

Campaign website: https://www.facebook.com/WestbrookRTC