Updated, 6:08 p.m.
NORWALK, Conn. – Jack Chiaramonte has missed a deadline in his quest to represent Norwalk and Darien in Connecticut's state senate but he says, "It's not a big deal." A drive to get the signatures of registered Republicans will get him on the ballot anyway.
Chiaramonte, the chairman of Norwalk's Board of Education, says the crisis with Norwalk's 2012-2013 school budget has taken up much of his time and distracted him. He sent in the proper forms to the Connecticut secretary of state and thought everything was fine, but apparently it wasn't. Nevertheless, he is committed to running to represent District 25 in the state senate and expects to oppose incumbent Democrat state Sen. Bob Duff.
"With what we've been going through on the board of ed, it's taken up so much of the time and my efforts, a clerical mishap happened, unfortunately," he said. "I'm officially off the ballot but it's not a problem. I've got people already signing up. I don't see it as a problem."
A $4 million shortfall in Norwalk current year budget was uncovered in late April. The city agreed to advance the school system the money to cover it and reconcile the budget, but the school system is required to pay back that money from the 2012-2013 school budget. As nearly $6 million needed to be cut from the 2012-2013 school budget due to the tax cap set by the Common Council and guidelines set by the Board of Estimate and Taxation, Superintendent Susan Marks must now recommend about $10 million in cuts from the 2012-2013 school budget.
Chiaramonte said he and other Board of Education members have been working "relentlessly" with Marks on a list of proposed cuts to present to the public well in advance of June 30, when the budget must be reconciled. He said he is "exhausted."
"The Norwalk Republican Town Committee is still hopeful that Jack
Chiaramonte can gather the necessary 656 Republican signatures needed
by June 12th to qualify for the primary, but needless to say we are clearly
disappointed that Jack now has this obstacle to overcome," said Art Scialabba, chairman of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee, in a statement.
Scialabba said Chiaramonte missed the deadline by one day. Chiaramonte called it a "bump in the road."
"It's a little detour I have to take unfortunately but we've been really racking our brains over at the BOE, trying to do the right thing for the people here, the kids, that this happened," he said. "It's not a big deal."
Chiaramonte has until 4 p.m. on June 12 to submit a primary petition with 632 signiatures from registered Republicans, according to Av Harris, director of communications for Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
Chiaramonte predicts that Norwalk will soon see the list of proposed cuts in the education budget. He said, "I believe the superintendent will be coming out with it very, very shortly."