With Seat in Doubt, Ochman Changes Course, Retains Post on Board of Education


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DARIEN — Days after announcing her decision to forgo her spots on the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education, Tara Ochman has changed her mind, and will in fact serve on the Board of Education for the last year of her term. 

Ochman, who was the Democratic nominee for first selectman of Darien, said on Friday that she was choosing to step aside to allow those “most enthusiastic” about the seats to fill them. 

David Bayne, chair of the Darien Democratic Town Committee, said Friday evening that the open spot on the Board of Education would be filled by Stacy Tie, who was a Democratic candidate for the Board in last week’s race. The Darien DTC voted on Saturday morning and unanimously nominated Tie for the open seat. 

However, Ochman and Tie both told CT Examiner on Monday evening that some members of the Board of Education were threatening to oppose her nomination. Tie called Ochman, and encouraged her not to forgo her seat, arguing that a prolonged political debate would not be in the best interest of the town. 

“It’s definitely a change of plans,” Ochman said. “My plan was to put in my papers and officially resign the seat, but Town Hall was closed on Friday, and then today, Stacey called and said that it looked like she wouldn’t be accepted and asked me to stay on. The tradition in town has always been to take the party’s nominee, but there wasn’t a consensus to do that this time.” 

The Darien DTC nominated Mike Burke for the Board of Selectmen, and Ochman said that because that nomination was not being contested, she went forward with resigning that seat. 

“It’s a small town, so rumors get around,” Tie said. “After I was endorsed on Saturday, I immediately reached out to every Board of Education member via email individually, and when I didn’t hear back from some of them, it became clear that either they weren’t going to support me or it was going to be dragged out beyond Tuesday. The town didn’t need this election to go on for another two weeks.” 

Ochman had served five years on the Board of Education and retained her seat there, while also earning a spot on the Board of Selectmen as a result of Tuesday’s election. 

According to unofficial vote totals, First Selectwoman-Elect Monica McNally, the Republican nominee, won with 61 percent of the vote to Ochman’s 39 percent. 

Republicans swept the races for open seats on the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen. The two open Board of Education seats were filled by Republicans David Brown and Tara Wurm, who defeated Tie and fellow Democrat Julie Best. 

David Dineen, chair of the Board of Education, told CT Examiner that “the Darien Board of Education and Darien Town clerk have not received a resignation letter to date, which is the process under the statue, so there is no vacancy on the Board of Ed at this time. Based on policy, the Board would have started the process to fill that vacancy if a resignation letter was received.”

This story has been updated to include comments by David Dineen