BY MATT RICCHIAZZI
Dr. Barbara Seals-Nevergold served as President of the Board of Education prior to the installation of Carl Paladino’s majority bloc in 2013. After sweeping election victories in May, Nevergold has retaken control of the district and has emerged as a political force in her own right.
Closely aligned with Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore, Nevergold is among the most influential voices on education policy in New York State. Her labor aligned constituency is known to have bucked Mayor Byron Brown, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and Governor Andrew Cuomo after each was deemed to be out of step.
Originally appointed to the At-Large seat to fill the vacancy left former board member Chris Jacobs when he became Erie County Clerk, Nevergold performed impressively during her reelection in a year when board members Carl Paladino and Larry Quinn spent heavily.
The operative who controls the teachers union’s political spending — NYSUT Regional President Mike Deely — is lacking in political influence after excessive spending two years ago in support of one-term Senator Marc Panepinto (in what many saw as a cartoonish smear of Mark Grisanti, a strong supporter of charter schools). Embattled, critics question his judgement and strategic decision making.
In the absence of a strong and respected political operative, teachers and activists are looking to Nevergold for an agenda. History demands much of Nevergold. Whether or not she is able to architect and execute one will be seen in the next several months.
“If she is succesful in implementing an alternative turnaround plan for the schools and she is successful, then Dr. Nevergold would be a compelling and formidable candidate for Congress,” suggests one prominent East Side activist. “She would be well advised to surround herself with political operatives of a caliber considerably higher than Mr. Deely.”