Note: the print edition of this story incorrectly stated that only Carina Borgia-Drake voted against Jonathan’s Steckler’s appointment to the Board of Education. Board member Sharon D’Orso also voted against Steckler. This story has been updated.
The Board of Education voted to elect Jonathan Steckler, executive vice president of The Chefs’ Warehouse, to fill a two-year vacancy on the board Monday night, Dec. 11.
Board members voted Steckler into office on a 6-2 vote, with newcomer Carina Borgia-Drake and Board of Education member Sharon D’Orso voting against Steckler’s appointment.
Steckler was one of four candidates who sat for an interview with the board Monday night. The board interviewed the candidates beginning at 6 p.m., before ushering members of the press and public out of the room during the private deliberations.
The board selected Steckler out of three candidates, after one candidate — Irene Burgess — chose to drop her candidacy, as someone had made an offer on her house earlier in the day. Burgess, who previously served on the board until stepping down in 2015, said she felt it would be wrong to continue with the interview, considering she might not be living in town in a month’s time.
Ridgefielders Colleen Broderick and Barbara Contreras also applied for the seat.
Broderick, who advocated for later start times with the Ridgefield chapter of Start School Later, said she’d like to continue to work on the board’s start times project, which is slated to go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.
Contreras pointed to her experience in business as qualification, highlighting her background in accounting and finance.
The two-year seat was left empty after Borgia-Drake (D) won both the two-year and the four-year term in November’s Democratic sweep of the election. Borgia-Drake resigned the two-year seat to serve for four years.
A native of Darien, Steckler moved to town seven years ago, he told The Press. He attended Yale University in New Haven, before working in the food industry for several years.
In his interview with the board, Steckler said he hoped to bring a “fresh set of eyes” to the board’s work, particularly the school budget.
Steckler said he also is interested in “generating a level of outreach that brings in a wider array of community input.” His worry, he said, is that the board could hear from only one viewpoint, without feedback from the larger community.
Asked by board member Katherine Holz about what he hoped to accomplish in his two years on the board, Steckler said he wanted to look at how “we meet and engage with the students far above and far below the line” in terms of academic achievements.
Steckler also talked about looking at student nutrition — something he has a background in through his years in food industries. Steckler said he wanted to look at not only how students are fed, but their relationship to and understanding of the food they eat as well.
Board Vice Chairman Doug Silver asked Steckler to describe signals that he might have to recuse himself from a board decision, based on conflicts of interest.
“In my day job, I work for a publicly traded company, so we go through conflict-of-interest training yearly,” Steckler said.
“For me, a conflict of interest would be looking out for what’s best for my daughter” as opposed to what would be best for all students, he said.
Steckler said he’s not interested in a career in politics, in response to a question by board member Sharon D’Orso about how his work would fit into the district’s mission, but rather “to put my own background and business knowledge into play to better the community.”