A strong message was sent to the Stamford RTC (Republican Town Committee) President, Mr. Josh Esses, on Wednesday, July 19, when policy was revised and supported twice by majority vote. The new policy affects only four current or future RTC officer positions—Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary. The paragraph for the Chair position explicitly states:
…as the public face and chief spokesperson of the Town Committee, faithfully and forcefully propound and defend the principles and platform of the Republican Party generally and, where known to him or her, the positions on specific issues of local concern held by a majority of the members of the Town Committee.
Votes do matter. In this case, the membership cited that a ‘conflict of interest’ occurred at the Stamford Board of Education (BOE) meeting on June 27, 2023, when Mr. Esses, who concurrently serves on Stamford BOE and RTC, wrongly acted in his dual roles. Instead of fulfilling his campaign promise, he compromised party platform initiatives and chose to renew the superintendent’s contract. In fact, Mr. Esses’ vote upset so many families and RTC financial supporters across Stamford, that a policy revision was quickly drafted and immediately acted upon to address the situation.
Being respectful of the RTC vote in favor of this new policy revision, Esses resigned immediately as the RTC president.
Diving deeper into the issue, it appears that Mr. Esses chose self-interest over party principles. Voting on the BOE as an RTC member would have been allowed, but as RTC president, he took advantage of his leadership role. In fact, many Stamford officials on the Board of Representatives and Board of Finance were absolutely thrilled that Mr. Esses—a Harvard graduate, New York City lawyer, and long-time resident of Stamford—was such an easy pushover. He literally sold his soul to the other side while his constituents, community admirers, and the Republican party watched in dismay.
The local, state and national Republican platform does not support many of the progressive federal policies that are being implemented in schools across the United States, including Stamford. Instead, Republicans believe that parental rights and local control matters, and that racism and sexism need to be eliminated from all curriculums.
Additionally, the Stamford Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lucero, does not have a good track record with achievement over the last ten-year period. Low teacher morale continues to plague her overall progress in teaching and learning. Her Vision 2025, drafted by Mr. Esses, Mrs. Munshi-South and the Superintendent, not only created a fifth central office position—Chief Academic Officer (CAO)—but stirred up even more controversy when selecting a candidate for the role. It turns out, the CAO position was filled by one of the four associate superintendents—one who has no teaching/classroom experience, yet oversees 1,500 teachers, curriculum writing and professional development districtwide. Other central office leadership issues highlighted fidelity concerns (e.g., grading for equity--G4E, administrator accountability, restorative justice, discipline follow through, etc.).
As one RTC member stated, ‘hopefully this policy revision will prevent future issues’.
Another member, who is a parent in the community, talked about Mr. Esses’ vote being a ‘conflict’ because he is viewed as out-of-touch with respect to the needs of the students, families and community he is meant to represent.
As an inexperienced politician, Mr. Esses still has a lot to learn before his grand vision to run for higher office can be realized. Let’s hope he doesn’t give up, as he brings a lot of energy and great ideas to the table when he takes the time to work with his supporters.