Candidates running for the Board of Education

The following candidates are all running for spots on the city’s Board of Education.

Jose Goncalves (D)

Jose F. Goncalves has been a longtime Shelton resident for over 36 years where he and his wife have proudly raised three children. Jose was born in Portugal and migrated to Bridgeport with his family at an early age. He and his family are a testament that by working hard you can achieve the American dream.

He has been a committed employee of the Bridgeport Board of Education for over 25 years and currently serves as an Executive Union Board Member.  Being Portuguese, naturally Jose has always had a love for soccer. He volunteered his time for over 7 years to the Shelton youth soccer program at the Boys and Girls community center. Jose has also volunteered his time at Diabetes  community service events across the state to support his son in his struggle with Type 1 Diabetes. On his free time, Jose and his family are active members within their church and assist with organizing fundraising events where proceeds go towards funding church youth programs.

Jose loves his community and is always striving to be an active member in the Shelton community. He looks forward to talking about his vision for the Shelton Board of Education and our school district for the benefit of our children.

Kate Kutash (D)

Kate is a 21 year resident of Shelton and is running for her fourth term as member of the Board of Education. Her husband Steve is a Shelton native, and their two children, Kelly and Sarah, are graduates of the Shelton Public Schools.  An alumni of Western Connecticut State College and SCSU, with BS, MS and 6th year degrees in Education, Kate has taught at the elementary level in Stratford for 40 years. She has served in several important positions on the Board of Education and is currently on the Teaching and Learning Committee and Chair of the Policy Committee.

As a parent, Kate was involved in PTAs at all levels, including PTA Council President, and was an active band and drama parent.  She is a passionate supporter of the JAM pathway (Journalism, Arts and Media) and is especially dedicated to expanding involvement in the music programs and opportunities for grades 5-12. Kate was also a strong proponent for full day kindergarten in Shelton for over 15 years and served on its Ad Hoc Committee.

Kate understands the concerns of Shelton’s teachers, parents and students. If re-elected, she will continue to work to maintain and improve upon the quality of education and to publicly recognize individual student achievements.

Amanda Kilmartin (D)

Mandy and her husband Doug moved to Shelton in 2006.  A working mother of two, Mandy first became engaged in local politics when she joined the battle for full day kindergarten several years ago.  As a graduate from Quinnipiac University, she believes passionately in educational equity and opportunity. Mandy has spent her career working in medical sales and consulting and has been an advocate for our community through her volunteer work. She served for two years on the Booth Hill School PTO Executive Board as co-Treasurer and most recently served as co-Director for the After school Curriculums Program.  Mandy also serves as a Campaign Committee member at Valley United Way.  

Mandy is currently serving on the Board of Education after having been selected by the Democratic Caucus to fill the vacancy left by Board Member Arlene Liscinsky, who submitted an early resignation to care for her ailing husband.

Mandy believes that the success and education of our children should be a top priority in Shelton.  She believes our schools are on the right track, but that the Board needs the insights and passion of a parent with 2 children currently enrolled in the Shelton Public Schools.  If elected, she will continue to advocate for the policies and resources that prepare our children for future success.

David Gioiello (D)

Dave and his wife have been residents of Shelton for 36 years, where they have raised their two, now adult, children. Dave has been a scout leader, a Sunday School teacher, a church youth leader and a youth soccer coach. He holds a BS from the University of Detroit and an MS from Wayne State University. Dave has worked for GE, NASA and currently is co-owner of a consulting firm specializing in occupational safety and health. He has served on several national professional boards and is past president of a foundation that awards college scholarships within the occupational safety and health profession.

Prior to being elected to the Board of Education in 2015, Dave provided consulting services to the BOE regarding asbestos, lead, and indoor air quality. He is the only candidate that has ever crawled the tunnels under all the elementary schools. His time on the Board has allowed him to gain an in-depth knowledge of how the system operates and how it can function more effectively to serve the students better.

Dave knows that the role of public education is to prepare our students for success in the next phase of their life, whether that be college, trade school or directly into the workforce. He is passionate about increasing student SAT scores and graduation rate. If re-elected, he will continue working to ensure that the children of Shelton receive a quality education.

Wayne Bragg (D)

Wayne Bragg and his wife Kate have lived in Shelton for 30 years and have five adult children, two of whom attended Shelton schools.   As a small business owner and an educator, he is community focused and sees the importance of a superior public school system as the foundation of success for both our children and our city.  

Wayne holds an MBA from the University of Connecticut, where he is a full-time, In-Residence Instructor in the School of Business and teaches Graduate Managerial Accounting in the MBA program. He also helped design and deliver specialized Business Mastery Programs for State of CT government agencies.  Prior to teaching, he held numerous financial positions at Sikorsky Aircraft and Pratt & Whitney.   As the Sikorsky Aircraft Controller, he directed the financial and capital planning, budgeting, and performance measurements for aircraft operations. Wayne is also the recipient of two UTC President Awards for Outstanding Management Achievement.

Wayne is currently a corporator at Griffin Hospital in Derby and is a past member of the Shelton Board of Apportionment and Taxation.

Anne Gaydos (R)

Anne and her husband, Michael, a candidate for the Board of Apportionment and Taxation, have been Shelton residents since 2008. They are the parents of Samantha, an 8-year- old third grader at Sunnyside Elementary School.

A graduate of the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh with a BA in Studio Art/Graphic Design and a Minor in Computer Science, Anne has been a graphic designer for over 20 years. Anne is an active Sunnyside PTO member, PTO website coordinator, yearbook coordinator, classroom volunteer, and a member of the Shelton public school’s Strategic Plan Committee. She is a member of the Shelton Republican Town Committee and was named to the Shelton Parks and Recreation Commission in 2016.

With a daughter in the Shelton public school system, Anne has a vested interest in the quality of our schools. A strong believer in the value of an excellent public education, Anne’s goal, as a member of the Board of Education, is to be an advocate for our children, placing their needs first while balancing a competitive learning environment with a responsible budget. Of importance to Anne is encouraging and promoting communication between the parent community and the Board of Education. Anne also feels serving on the Board of Education would be a worthwhile and rewarding way to volunteer her time and give back to the community.

Mark S. Holden (R)

Mark has been a Shelton resident since 1981 and is married to Wendy Holden. He served for 25 years on the Board of Directors for the Birmingham Foundation, BHCare and Valley Mental Health Center, and three years as Chairman of Healthways, Inc. (Umbrella domestic violence program).

Mark is nationally certified by the Jaycees as a team-building, leadership and chapter management trainer. A former Project Astro astronomer/guest lecturer, Mark is the Memorial Astronomical Society president which actively participates in STEM nights for the Shelton, Stratford and Milford school systems.

Mark was a Board of Apportionment and Taxation member for six years, four as Chairman. He is in his sixth year on the Board of Education, has been Chairman for the last five years and has the highest attendance rate of anyone at Board and committee meetings. Mark’s focus as a strong advocate for public education has been for continual improvement of educational quality by using available resources to allow students to meet new challenges and get the best possible outcome. Since becoming Chairman, the Shelton school system transitioned to full-day kindergarten, became the first Connecticut school district to provide students and staff with ALICE training for dealing with intruders, started Shelton Empowers to help combat the opioid problem, and started the School of Innovation where project-based learning is used at the Shelton Intermediate School. Since joining the Board, student achievement has continued to climb while cost per student hasn’t increased nearly as fast as neighboring towns.

Thomas R Minotti Sr. (R)

A resident of Shelton for 39 years, Tom and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 54 years and have four children. Of their eight grandchildren, four are Shelton High School graduates and four are Shelton public school students. A lector and volunteer at St. Margaret Mary Church and a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, Tom is a volunteer for the Barnum Festival, Bridgeport’s Columbus Day Parade, and Aspetuck Village Condominium Association director and secretary. He is a past member of Shelton’s Water Pollution Control Authority Board and Employee Grievance Committee.

Tom earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Master’s + degrees in Math Education, Supervision and Administration from the University of Bridgeport. He served the Bridgeport Board of Education for 38 years as a high school Mathematics instructor, Department Chairman, and District High School Mathematics Supervisor. Now semi-retired, Tom has been a part-time adjunct Math professor at the University of Bridgeport since 1985.

In his seventh term on the Board of Education, Tom is the current Vice Chairman, Teaching-Learning Committee Chairman, an active member of the Finance Committee and the Shelton public school system’s representative to Cooperative Educational Services.

Tom’s top three priorities are for the Board to provide a quality education to students, to assist with improving student achievement, and to adopt a fiscally responsible budget. Tom also is focused on keeping the community informed about Board of Education work and policies; maintaining a low tax rate; and having a strong, honest, and transparent government.

Dr. Darlisa Ritter (R)

Dr. Darlisa Ritter is a Republican seeking her second term on the Shelton Board of Education. She is a parent, attended Shelton public schools, beginning with Ferry School and graduating from Shelton High School, and a 40-year veteran Shelton teacher. She received five higher education degrees, culminating in doctorates in Educational Administration, Supervision and Leadership, and Human Resources.

Recognized and cited as an outstanding doctoral leader in Who's Who in University Students, she has achieved many national, state, and city accolades ranging from serving 17 years as a board member with 3 years as Chair of the State Department of Education's Celebration of Excellence program to simultaneously serving as Chair and member for the CT State Department, Bureau of Certification and Development and Accreditation Review Team for five years. She received prestigious recognition as a National Educator recipient from the Milken Family Foundation, a G. E. Foundation Math Award, CT Academy of Schools Awards, a George Lucas Foundation Technology Award, a McDonald's National Award, and a Shelton Teacher of the Year Award.

Utilizing her extensive educational background and experience, she serves on BOE Teaching and Learning, Policy, and Finance committees. She supports and contributes to the advancement of our students and school system, all the while keeping an eye on the needs of taxpayers. Dr. Ritter speaks from a place of concern, practicality, and common sense.

Kathleen Yolish (R)

Kathleen has been a Shelton resident for more than 50 years. She lives with her husband of 43 years, Norman, and her Morkie, Kinzy Bean. Kathleen is seeking reelection to the Board for her fifth term. As a 35-year teacher at Ferry, Sunnyside, Lafayette and Elizabeth Shelton schools, she understands the concerns, frustrations and needs of the taxpayers. Throughout her educational career she has been the recipient of many awards and honorariums including

teaching grants, finalist for Teacher of the Year, Who’s Who in American Teachers, Shelton’s Walmart Teacher of the Year, the Weller Educational Award and Disney Teacher Recognition Award. As an eight-year Board member, she devotes many hours serving on committees: Teaching & Learning, Policy, Finance; as Board liaison for the Shelton Education Association as well as attending many school functions, cultural arts programs, concerts and plays. She also writes the educational articles for the Shelton Economic Development Commission’s publication, Shelton Life. She is an active member of the SRTC, St. Margaret Mary Church and continues to volunteer in the third grades at Long Hill School. Kathleen has the heart of Shelton. She truly cares about the children, their parents, the taxpayers and employees. She hopes voters will continue to support her commitment to be a voice in this challenging, ever-changing world, especially in these fiscally unstable budgetary times.