Baraka’s School Board Election Tightrope as Bradford gives Charter Backers Fits

To quote Ras Baraka, “It’s chaos.”

Kind of.

It’s actually politics.

What looked like a snooze alarm election on paper has turned on Election Day into a fascinating frenzy, which recreates the Roman Empire’s triumvirates run amok. In this case, multiple charter school backers are irritated by the presence of signs in the South Ward that proclaim Patricia Bradford as a member of the three-person unity ticket, replacing charter school candidate Flo Johnson.

Bradford is a Baraka person – just like Reginald Bledsoe, an official member of the unity slate.

Those signs appear against the backdrop of some Baraka loyalists voicing mild irritation over the mayor’s political deal-making. As Baraka strives to maintain good relations with county government and those other entities that could prove harmful in a citywide re-election next year when he puts himself on the ballot, including charter school money, there are those in his camp who wanted more power. They wanted someone like Baraka policy wonk Tai Cooper, for example, to be an assemblywoman instead of the county organization pick for the LD29 seat, Shanique Speight.

They also wanted the school board untrammeled by the presence of charter school supporters.

It was Central Ward High School principal Baraka, after all, who opposed the unchecked incursion of charters into public school education in his home city.

So now, Bradford, a fire development specialist with the city fire department, appears positioned to make a final day strike to give the mayor’s longest standing, unexpurgated allies a two-seat shot on the school board.

This is going on even as some of the allies of Baraka’s chief rival and possible 2018 opponent, Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, have signs afoot that float the councilwoman’s preferred candidates on a slate with Josephine Garcia.

Garcia is the charge of North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, captain of the biggest most disciplined organization in the city right now.

Ramos allies are hoping Garcia comes in first to assist the argument that the ext mayor has to go through the north ward to get to city hall, particularly if the Central Ward (Chaneyfield Jenkins) is fighting with the South (Baraka).

But if the south can squeak in Bradford, they say it would be a major victory for the mayor’s longstanding political club, who could play the “He  really tried to make nice with the charter school club” while seizing advantage of the charter school paid-for mail, while slyly getting another seat nailed down for a real ally.

That way he could appease those disgruntled Baraka purists – some of whom even thought Bledsoe was a stretch – while also making nice with – at least – the muscled up Ramos.


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