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Benjamin Echevarria Chosen as New Ward 1 School Committee Representative

Echevaria was chosen after a split vote on the School Committee.

The Somerville School Committee Tuesday night voted to appoint Benjamin Echevarria as the new representative for Ward 1 on the committee. Ward 1 represents East Somerville.

Echevarria will replace Maureen Bastardi, who left the School Committee in December, 2012, after being appointed to the Somerville Board of Aldermen.

The School Committee voted Tuesday night after interviewing three candidates for the position. In addition to Echevaria, they interviewed Steven Roix and Bonny Carroll. A fourth finalist in the selection process, Yvette Verdieu, withdrew her name from consideration before the meeting. The committee had previously whittled down a group of 10 candidates to the four finalists.

The public interview process took place after a public hearing at the Capuano Early Childhood Center.

After the vote, Echevarria said he was happy to be selected. He said the whole experience was "exciting" and "nerve-racking."

His first actions as a member of the Somerville School Committee will be to participate in the annual budget process, he said.

Echevarria is interim pastor at Elm Street Baptist Church in Everett, according to his resume. He previously served as associate pastor of youth and education at the church, and he still runs the youth program, he said.

He has also worked as a chef, cook and office manager, his resume says.

He's president of the board at the Welcome Project, a group that works with immigrants in the Somerville community.

He doesn't have children, but he grew up in Somerville and attended the Winter Hill Community School, he said.

Echevarria was voted into office during the second round of voting. During the first round, the School Committee split its vote, with four choosing Echevarria and the other four choosing Roix. When the committee voted a second time, Echevarria won with five votes.

School Committee members are elected by the public every two years, and Echevarria would need to run for his seat on the committee this fall should he choose to continue serving.

Asked if he planned to do that, he said, "I honestly have not thought that far."

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