"Meet the Candidates" is a feature on West Hartford Patch designed to help you get to know your local candidates before you take to the polls this November. Each profile was submitted directly by the candidate.
Take a moment to review each profile so you can be informed and prepared when you go to the polls on Nov. 5.
Name: Mark Overmyer-Velázquez
Party, Board Seeking: Democrat, Board of Education
Family information: Married to Jordanna Hertz, with three children: Sarai (12), Maceo (10), and Adan (2). Live in the Smith district, near Effie’s Diner. Member of Kehilat Chaverim.
Occupation, if applicable: History Professor and Director of the Institute of Latino, Caribbean and Latin American Studies at UConn
Political Experience: Served two years on the Board of Education, appointed to fill a vacated seat.
Other Experience: Past PTO Co-president of Smith Elementary School; Soccer Coach West Hartford Co-rec league; High school varsity athlete; Jazz and Blues pianist; Fulbright scholar.
Why did you run for office? I love West Hartford! My family and I moved here for the schools and I want to make sure that all our children, from pre-K through high school graduation, receive an excellent education. I will bring my perspective as a father of school-aged children, teacher, administrator, and Board member to help continue the award-winning successes of our school district.
If elected, what would be your primary areas of focus? Although all areas of our kids’ education deserve my intense focus and commitment, one highlight will be the building of a new Charter Oak School, an exciting and state-of-the-art program for all West Hartford students. I will work with the town to make sure the new school is economically and environmentally efficient, supports an innovative and demanding curriculum, and serves the needs of our students and community.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? We are simultaneously introducing several new state mandates to our schools including new curricula, teacher evaluations, and secondary school reform. These changes are taking place as our community continues to change and diversify and our teachers work hard to provide a rigorous and inspiring education to all children.
What skills do you have that you could bring to the community? As both a parent of children in our schools and a teacher to graduates from our schools who study at UConn I have a broad perspective on and long-term commitment to public education. In my work as an academic administrator I oversee budgets, personnel, and curriculum, skills I bring to the Board as I focus to continually improve all elements of our outstanding school system.
Anything else you would like to share? Our schools are in the midst of one of the most important transitions in their history. We are simultaneously reshaping the foundations of our curriculum, launching new evaluations for teachers and hiring a new Superintendent. At this crucial time, the Board needs to meet the high expectations of our families that demand economically efficient and innovatively run schools that provide rigorous educational opportunities for all our students. I am ready and eager to meet those needs. Thank you and I look forward to your support on November 5th.