Incumbents falter in early May elections, governing majority shifts in Buffalo
By Daniel Anderson
School board elections held across four states resulted in nearly a third of the incumbents losing their seats on May 6, 2014. Four of the 11 incumbents running in the five North Carolina elections were defeated, along with one of the two incumbents running in New York's only district to hold an election, Buffalo Public Schools. Current board members achieved greater success in Virginia, where just two of the nine incumbents who ran lost. The sole incumbent running for re-election in Montana's Billings Public Schools, Janna Hafer, managed to retain her seat.
The percentage of incumbents who lost their re-election bids yesterday was higher than the general trend thus far in 2014. Incumbents achieved only a 73.91 percent re-election rate on Tuesday, compared to the 84.88 percent of incumbents in other top enrollment school districts who have won re-election earlier this year.
Spotlight: Buffalo Public Schools
Voters in Buffalo demanded change at the ballot box on Tuesday, ushering in two new board members alongside the returning board president, Barbara Seals Nevergold. Larry Quinn and Patricia B. Pierce defeated 10 other challengers in an unusually crowded candidate field to win the at-large seats with five-year terms. Both were endorsed by former gubernatorial candidate and Park Subdistrict board member, Carl P. Paladino, who has led an opposition faction against Nevergold since his election on May 7, 2013. Paladino's faction staged an unsuccessful vote to remove Superintendent Pamela Brown from office in September 2013, which failed in a narrow 5-4 ruling.
Paladino and Nevergold both lost allies on the board yesterday with John Licata's defeat and Florence Johnson's retirement, respectively. However, since two of the three seats were won by Paladino's preferred candidates, his faction now controls the school board. Local journalists expect that this new governing majority will move swiftly to terminate Superintendent Brown's employment. Larry Quinn, who finished first in the at-large election, raised more money than any other candidate and earned an endorsement from StudentsFirst, which is a national education reform advocacy organization that supports implementing teacher merit pay, eliminating tenure for teachers and promoting school choice. Following the election, Quinn suggested that the school district needs a "revolution" and added that, "[...] this is also a time to radically change how we educate kids."
The change in the governing majority presents an unclear portrait of how Buffalo Public Schools will handle the implementation of Common Core going forward. Although Larry Quinn and Patricia B. Pierce campaigned on removing Superintendent Brown from office, they actually shared her support for Common Core. In contrast, rival faction leader and Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold opposed the new standards. All three of the winning candidates did agree that the district had done a poor job of implementing Common Core thus far.
Note: An (i) next to a candidate's name indicates incumbent status.
Billings Public Schools
Single Member District #2
High School District B
Buffalo Public Schools
Durham Public Schools
Chesapeake Public Schools
Hampton Roads Seat B
- 90 candidates seek 38 seats in first round of May school board elections
- School board elections, 2014
- Montana school board elections, 2014
- Montana elections, 2014
- New York school board elections, 2014
- New York elections, 2014
- North Carolina school board elections, 2014
- North Carolina elections, 2014
- Virginia school board elections, 2014
- Virginia elections, 2014
- The Buffalo News, "Meet the candidates," accessed April 29, 2014
- The Buffalo News, "Record-breaking funds raised in Buffalo School Board election," May 3, 2014
- StudentsFirst, "StudentsFirst Policy Agenda: Summary," accessed April 18, 2014
- The Buffalo News, "Quinn, Pierce ride tide of change to board," May 7, 2014