For the past six years, Rebecca Sassouni has served with distinction as a school board Trustee. As board president, she has exemplified steady leadership, resilience, and grace, even when presiding over meetings where community members belligerently interrupted or refused to follow the meetings’ rules.
Ms. Sassouni’s opponent, Niloufar Tabari, said in a recent Instagram post that we need leaders who will “put aside their own personal and political agendas for the greater good.” But it is not at all clear that this is what Tabari intends to do.
Since the campaign began, Ms. Tabari has been supported by the extreme rightwing. For instance, she has received vociferous endorsements from Emil Hakimi, a far-right zealot and provocateur who ran for the board last year. During last fall’s library election, Mr. Hakimi made vile and slanderous statements, falsely accusing his neighbors of being pornographers and pedophiles. Now he is aiming his venomous attacks at Ms. Sassouni, likening her to a “dictator.” This sort of extremism and divisive rhetoric has no place in our public conversation or in our community.
Does Ms. Tabari herself endorse these extreme views and unhinged behaviors? It is hard to say. She has not commented on Mr. Hakimi’s offensive actions, nor has she repudiated his support. She has declined to participate in a debate with Ms. Sassouni, where she might have been asked to expound on her views.
We do know Tabari turned up at a school board meeting in 2021, making false claims about a book in the middle school curriculum. She said the book, which is about an interracial and interfaith relationship, would teach kids that “all white people are racist.”
Ms. Tabari’s false statements on books, her seeming alliance with the extreme right wing, and her refusal to debate, all tell the same tale. She has not, and will not, “put aside” extreme political views.
Rebecca Sassouni’s intelligence, compassion, fairness, and experience make her the right choice for trustee. Joanne Chan, who is running for the open seat on the board, has also demonstrated her steady commitment to equity and inclusion.
I encourage all Great Neckers to cast their votes for Sassouni and Chan, and yes on the school budget, on May 16.
Daniel Pitt Stoller