After backlash, Haddam GOP school board candidates exit race

Photo of Christine DeRosa
Haddam Town Hall is located at 30 Field Park Drive.

Haddam Town Hall is located at 30 Field Park Drive.

Cassandra Day / Hearst Connecticut Media

HADDAM — Two Republican candidates running for the Regional School District 17 Board of Education have dropped out of the race less than two months ahead of Election Day.

Shannon Johnson and Christopher Page have dropped out of the race for the school district, which encompasses Haddam and Killingworth schools.

The candidates faced backlash from the community as well as state Rep. Christine Palm, D-Chester, after they were endorsed at the Haddam Republicans’ caucus on July 20.

Johnson posted on a Haddam Facebook group on Sept. 15 that she had withdrawn to focus on her children’s first year of homeschooling.

In her post, she endorsed fellow candidate Corey Roberts.

“She is such a kind person who has a passion for family and her children. She will be such an asset to our BOE,” Johnson wrote. “She will have my full support as well as the support of my family. I now ask that you all vote for Corey. She is the absolute best choice!”

The exact date Page dropped out of the race is unclear, however, town officials said new ballots without Page and Johnson had to be printed by the absentee ballot deadline.

An example ballot posted on Haddam’s town website on Sept. 22 shows the only Republican candidate for the Board of Education is Roberts.

In a statement earlier this summer, Palm accused both candidates of sharing disinformation and QAnon theories on social media, and referred to their participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection as reasons they were unfit for office.

While it is unclear why Page has dropped out of the race, he released a statement to Hearst Connecticut Media in August saying he attended the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol in Washington.

“I proudly brought my family, along with tens of thousands of others, on January 6, 2021, to see our president speak and participate in letting Congress hear our voices,” Page’s statement read. “99-percent of people in attendance were there to just show support for our president. Yes, there were those who chose violence, but that was their purpose for being there and they were called out where they were found.”

Johnson, a mother of two daughters, ages 13 and 15, who attended Haddam-Killingworth schools, was also at the Capitol that day with her 70-year-old mother-in-law. She said they walked on the lawn and watched from the tunnels.

“When the police allowed people to enter the Capitol, we walked up to the steps where I stood on the second step and took a video of the crowd,” Johnson wrote in a letter to the editor of HK Now. “We turned and went back to where we had been and left. Later, I was interviewed by an FBI agent who advised me that they needed nothing further regarding my trip.”

Absentee applications and ballots for November’s municipal election in Haddam will be available in the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall beginning Friday or online.