There is no denying that Ed McKeon is an important figure in Middletown. Perhaps you know him from his campaign slogan, “Ed for Ed,” or his frequent updates on the Middletown Eye, which he founded and now edits.
On Nov. 8, McKeon was elected to the Middletown Board of Education with 5,454 votes, the second highest of any BOE candidate.
As part of a series of interviews with influential figures in Middletown, The Argus sat down with McKeon to discuss his campaign and plans as a new member of the Board of Education.
The Argus: Can you explain the circumstances surrounding your independent campaign?
Ed McKeon: I was chosen by the Democratic Town Committee to run on the official Democratic slate. When I got on the slate, I was told that I would have to campaign for everyone running for town council and zoning members—and really the amount of effort that the town was interested in for the Board of Education was minimal. In addition, there were some campaign tactics that I didn’t agree with. There were uses of materials in ways that weren’t illegal but felt unethical. So I separated myself from the team and I formed my own campaign, got a campaign treasurer, and made my own campaign materials.
A: Do you think this separation from the main Democratic Party campaign helped?
EM: I think it worked really to my advantage. I thought that the amount of effort by the other Board of Education candidates was pretty minimal. So I was able to run a campaign with very little money and get a lot of recognition and votes. I was able to knock on doors of people from both parties. I told them that I don’t feel political parties have any place on a Board of Education and that campaigning should be about issues that people shouldn’t be voting based on Democratic or Republican but what was best for the students, which I think helped.
A: Can you talk a little about the “Ed for Ed” signs?
EM: I wanted the signs to stand out. I didn’t want red, white, or blue. The [final sign] was one of several signs that I looked at and it really appealed to me.
A: What were your thoughts after being elected?
EM: That I had a lot of work ahead of me. It wasn’t elation or anything, just the knowledge that there was still a lot of work.
A: What would you like to change about the Board of Education?
EM: The chairman on the Board has been there for several years. From my perspective it’s been sort of a problem to get things done. There are all sorts of long-term things that need to be done but it really comes down to making sure that teachers are supported, that they have the resources they need, and that there is the best educational policy possible. There needs to be much better communication at all levels; the board has to be public with teachers and school administrators. Accountability has to be improved. The administration has to be evaluated on a regular basis, which is not happening now. An evaluation has to play a part in whether they are promoted or given a raise. With communication, we could put every meeting online, which I think would be a huge step forward. And I hope we can get these things done pretty quickly.
A: Do you think there will be any trouble working with the people on the Board who ran together on the party slates for the election?
EM: Right now there’s been a lot of cooperation between both parties on the Board of Education. I had the second-highest number of votes of anyone in the city, which is some indication of the support that I have. These are all politicians and they realize that there is a lot of support out there for me. I think there might be some difficulties but so far it doesn’t look it will be a problem.
A: Will you continue to work with the Middletown Eye?
EM: I’m trying to figure out what I’ll do now. During the course of the election, I have used the Middletown Eye politically to announce campaign events and other things like that. There are things I now can’t write about because it would be prejudicial, while there are other things I can write. I have to find out what I can and can’t write about. So I will continue to write, but it will probably be less, but I’m not going to be the “editor” any longer.
A: What are your thoughts on the future of the Middletown education system?
EM: I feel like the current thought is that, so long as we’re ahead of the city of Meriden or better than Greenwich, that’s okay. And I think we can have an excellent school system [if we change that mentality], and that’s really my goal for Middletown.