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Huntsville City Schools elections (2014)

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2014 Huntsville City Schools Elections

General Election date:
August 26, 2014
Table of Contents
About the district
Method of election
What was at stake?
Key deadlines
Additional elections
External links
See also
Huntsville City Schools
Madison County, Alabama ballot measures
Local ballot measures, Alabama
Flag of Alabama.png

Three seats on the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education were up for general election on August 26, 2014. Beth Wilder defeated Richard V. Buchanan for the District 2 seat and Walker McGinis defeated Kimberly Battle for the District 4 seat. Elisa Ferrell defeated Anson Knowles in a runoff election on October 7, 2014, for the District 3 seat.

Huntsville City Schools continues to deal with repercussions of a desegregation dispute with the U.S. Department of Justice. The dispute occurred when the Department of Justice claimed the district operated a dual school system based on race, despite the district claiming it has complied with all desegregation laws. In June 2014, the case judge decided that the district and the Department of Justice must enter mediation to create a rezoning plan and address all types of racial disparities in the district. Additionally, a petition calling for the resignation of Superintendent Casey Wardynski began circulating in July 2014.

See also: What was at stake in Huntsville City Schools?

About the district

See also: Huntsville City Schools, Alabama
Huntsville City Schools is located in Madison County, Alabama
Huntsville City Schools is located in Madison County, Alabama. The county seat of Madison County is Huntsville. Madison County is home to 346,892 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[1] Huntsville City Schools is the seventh-largest school district in Alabama, serving 22,974 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[2]


Madison County outperformed the rest of Alabama in terms of higher education achievement in 2013. The United States Census Bureau found that 37.8 percent of Madison County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 22.3 percent for Alabama as a whole. The median household income in Madison County was $58,242 compared to $43,160 for the state of Alabama. The poverty rate in Madison County was 12.4 percent compared to 18.1 percent for the entire state.[1]

Racial Demographics, 2013[1]
Race Madison County (%) Alabama (%)
White 69.6 70.0
Black or African American 24.5 26.5
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.8 0.7
Asian 2.5 1.2
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.1
Two or More Races 2.4 1.5
Hispanic or Latino 4.7 4.1

Presidential Voting Pattern, Madison County[3]
Year Republican Vote Democratic Vote
2012 90,884 62,015
2008 86,965 64,117
2004 77,173 52,644
2000 62,151 48,199

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[4] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.

Method of board member selection

The Huntsville City Board of Education consists of five members elected to four-year terms by specific geographic districts. There was no primary election and the general election was held on August 26, 2014. Since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes in District 3, a runoff election was held on October 7, 2014. Three seats were up for election in 2014.[5]

Candidates began filing nominating petitions on July 1, 2014. The filing deadline for school board candidates to get on the ballot in the general election was July 15, 2014.[6]




  • Kimberly Battle
    • Graduate, University of Alabama-Huntsville, Naval Postgraduate School, Colorado Technical University
    • Engineer
  • Walker McGinisGreen check mark transparent.png
    • Educator, principal

Election results

Huntsville City Schools, District 3 Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngElisa Ferrell 54.1% 2,668
     Nonpartisan Anson Knowles 45.9% 2,260
Total Votes 4,928
Source: WHNT 19, "2014 General Election Results," accessed October 7, 2014 These election results are unofficial. They will be updated once certified election results are available.

Huntsville City Schools, District 2 General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBeth Wilder 58.8% 1,748
     Nonpartisan Richard V. Buchanan 41.2% 1,225
Total Votes 2,973
Source: Huntsville Election Office, "2014 General Election Results," accessed October 7, 2014

Huntsville City Schools, District 3 General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngElisa Ferrell 30.4% 1,468
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAnson Knowles 24.5% 1,182
     Nonpartisan Ellen Brusick 18.5% 895
     Nonpartisan Kathie Rooker 16.9% 819
     Nonpartisan Pat Sanders 9.7% 469
Total Votes 4,833
Source: Huntsville Election Office, "2014 General Election Results," accessed October 7, 2014

Huntsville City Schools, District 4 General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngWalker McGinis 57.2% 1,020
     Nonpartisan Kimberly Battle 42.8% 762
Total Votes 1,782
Source: Huntsville Election Office, "2014 General Election Results," accessed October 7, 2014


Current District 2 school board member David Blair endorsed Beth Wilder, Elisa Ferrell and Walker McGinis.[7] Ferrell was also endorsed by retired district principal BT Drake.[8] McGinis was also endorsed by former Deputy Superintendent Mary Ruth Yates, Columbia High School principal Greg Hicks, attorney and former board member Dough Martinson, former Grissom High School administrator Sonny Rooks, former Huntsville High School principal Jan Harris and former police chief and mayoral assistant Rex Reynolds.[9] Wilder was also endorsed by Huntsville's Committee of 100 and State Board of Education Rep. Mary Scott Hunter.[10][11] No other candidates received any official endorsements in this election.

Campaign finance

No candidates filed a campaign finance report with the Alabama Secretary of State during this election.[12]

Past elections

What was at stake?

Issues in the district

Desegregation dispute

In May 2014, Huntsville City Schools faced the U.S. Department of Justice to debate the racial implications of redrawing school zones. The school rezoning has to be approved by a federal judge because of a desegregation lawsuit dating back to 1963, when the federal government sued to end racial segregation in the system. While the district believed it had complied with desegregation laws, the Department of Justice believed the district operated a dual system, since many schools were almost predominantly white or predominantly African American. Huntsville submitted rezoning plans in February 2014, but the Department of Justice rejected the plans.[13][14]

On June 30, 2014, the case's presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala, ordered both sides enter into mediation to examine all aspects of racial disparities across the school district and create a rezoning plan that both parties can agree on. She said, "the fact that the district integrated the student bodies of many of its schools in the early 1970s does not automatically lead to the conclusion that the district does not currently operate a dual system." Although the schools were integrated in the 1970s, Haikala believes the district has seen a demographic shift since then that has affected school composition. She also believes the Department of Justice's proposed plan might cause risk to the district, such as causing students to leave the public school system for the local private schools. Haikala appointed Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott to oversee the mediation process.[15]

Petition for superintendent resignation

In July 2014, Terri Michal, a self-described education activist, started a petition asking the Huntsville school board to demand Superintendent Casey Wardynski's resignation. Michal says she began the petition to show the board and the superintendent that residents from all over the district disapprove of his policies. Although Michal does not live in Huntsville, she has stayed interested in the school district because of the racial tensions in the district and because she is against corporate education reform. The petition calls for Wardynski's resignation because of his testimony during the desegregation dispute, accusations of disregard for parents, students and citizens and accusations of creating a poor working environment that, Michal says, has resulted in more than 700 employees leaving the district since he arrived in the summer of 2011. School board member Mike Culbreath said that Wardynski and his staff have done a good job with the district's finances, raising students' test scores and improving the schools' graduation rates.[16]

Key deadlines

The following dates were key deadlines for the Huntsville City Schools election in 2014:[6]

Deadline Event
July 1, 2014 Notice of election to be published
July 1, 2014 First day to file nominating petitions
July 15, 2014 Last day to file nominating petitions
July 15, 2014 Last day to register to vote
August 21, 2014 Last day to apply for absentee ballot
August 25, 2014 Last day to return absentee ballot
August 26, 2014 General election day
October 7, 2014 Runoff election

Additional elections on the ballot

In addition to the school board elections, residents of Huntsville City voted in races for city council members in District 2, 3 and 4.[17]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Huntsville + City + Schools + Alabama"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Huntsville City Schools News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 United States Census Bureau, "Madison County, Alabama," accessed July 9, 2014
  2. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed February 18, 2014
  3. Alabama Secretary of State, "Election Information," accessed July 9, 2014
  4. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  5. Huntsville City Schools, "School Board," accessed July 9, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 City of Huntsville, "Schedule of Dates," accessed July 9, 2014
  7., "David Blair won't seek third term on Huntsville school board, endorses candidates in 3 board races," June 30, 2014
  8. Elisa Ferrell Huntsville City School Board District 3 Candidate, "Endorsement," accessed July 11, 2014 (dead link)
  9. Vote Walker McGinnis, "Endorsements," accessed July 16, 2014 (dead link)
  10. Huntsville Committee of 100, "Committee of 100 endorses three for school board," July 10, 2014
  11. Twitter, "Mary Scott Hunter," accessed July 28, 2014
  12. Alabama Secretary of State, "Alabama Electronic Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) Reporting System," accessed July 9, 2014
  13., "Live updates on desegregation hearing, day two: Huntsville v. United States," May 23, 2014
  14. Alabama Public Radio, "Judge Orders Mediation in Huntsville Desegregation Suit," accessed July 10, 2014
  15. WHNT 19 News, "Judge orders mediation in Huntsville schools rezoning case; board to meet Wednesday," July 1, 2014
  16., "Petition on calls for Huntsville Superintendent Casey Wardynski's resignation," July 9, 2014
  17. Huntsville City, "Elections," accessed July 10, 2014