Challengers surprise school board incumbents in South Carolina, swipe open seats in North Dakota and show strength in Nevada
By Nick Katers
Mark Sury and Charles King spoiled the party for two board members with large victories in South Carolina's Kershaw County School District on June 10, 2014. Sury and King defeated incumbents Nissary Wood and Donald Copley, respectively, by margins larger than 15 percent. Incumbents Shirley L. Halley and Kim Horton DuRant won re-election to their seats without opposition. Victories by Sury and King bucked the trend of relatively quiet elections in the county as four out of five seats were unopposed in 2012. The newcomers were the only two candidates to defeat incumbents in the five school board races that took place in America's largest school districts.
First-time candidates won four out of eight seats in Bismarck and Fargo though they will fill vacancies left by outgoing members. Karl Lembke joined incumbents Matthew Sagsveen and Scott Halvorson in fending off three other candidates in Bismarck. Voters in Fargo selected newcomers Jennifer Benson, Rebecca Knutson and David Paulson to join Linda Boyd and Dinah Goldenberg on the school board. North Dakota's elections only attracted 17 percent of eligible voters, the lowest turnout for a June election in the state since 1980.
Nevada's primaries also featured scant voter turnout even with competitive races in Clark County School District and Washoe County School District. Incumbents Stavan Corbett, Carolyn Edwards and Erin E. Cranor advanced from their primaries to the general election on November 4, 2014. Two out of the three school board seats up for election in Washoe County will feature competitive races highlighted by the District F race. Six newcomers ran in the District F primary with Veronica Frenkel and Jim Shaw hoping to replace outgoing board member Estela Gutierrez. The Nevada Secretary of State announced a statewide voter turnout of 18.2 percent, just narrowly missing a record low of 18 percent set in the 2008 primary election.
Spotlight: Clark County School District
Voters in Clark County School District, Nevada made election night worrisome for two incumbents seeking re-election. Incumbent Stavan Corbett only received 36.5 percent in the District D primary and finished 10 percent ahead of challenger Kevin Child. Defeated candidates Wesley Cornwell and Charles Ware received a combined 37 percent of the vote, showing voter frustration with the current board. The hotly contested District G primary between incumbent Erin E. Cranor and challenger Joe Spencer will be replayed in the November general election. Cranor finished with 40 percent of the vote, only finishing six points ahead of Spencer. Spencer and losing candidate Ira Kimball heavily criticized Cranor for ethics issues during the primary and combined for 59.7 percent of the vote. District F incumbent Carolyn Edwards easily advanced to a general election race with Nick Smith by winning 55 percent of the vote. Corbett, Cranor and Edwards raised $55,000 out of the $69,000 raised in the primary campaign, leaving the incumbents with a substantial fundraising advantage.
Note: An (i) next to a candidate's name indicates incumbent status.
Fargo Public Schools
- Ethics claims, growing pains define school board races in Nevada and North Dakota
- School board elections, 2014
- Nevada school board elections, 2014
- Nevada elections, 2014
- North Dakota school board elections, 2014
- North Dakota elections, 2014
- South Carolina school board elections, 2014
- South Carolina elections, 2014
- WDAY, "North Dakota voter turnout lowest for June election since at least 1980," June 11, 2014
- Las Vegas Sun, "Five takeaways from Mark Hutchison’s win, the Tea Party’s defeats and the union-business battle brewing for sheriff," June 10, 2014
- Nevada Secretary of State, "Nevada Contributions & Expenditures," accessed May 21, 2014