Oklahoma school board elections see low turnout, most uncontested

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February 12, 2014

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By Alex Schaffer

Competitive school board elections took place on February 11, 2014 in four Oklahoma school districts. The elections scheduled to take place in nine other Oklahoma districts were canceled due to each of the candidates running unopposed in those races. No candidates filed for the District 4 seat on Union Public Schools board, which will allow the remaining board members to appoint the new member themselves. Challengers were successful in two of the three contested races that featured incumbent board members, with only Ron Millican in Oklahoma City successfully earning re-election. Low turnout was a common theme in these February elections. Tulsa Public Schools attracted the most voters with 818 ballots cast in the District 7 race, while Oklahoma City Public Schools had only 304 votes cast in its election.

Oklahoma City Public Schools, still in the midst of administrative upheaval, saw incumbent Ron Millican re-elected with over 70 percent of the vote. Fellow Oklahoma City incumbent Ruth Veales also earned a new term by virtue of being unopposed.[1] Newcomer Cynthia Benson defeated incumbent Edmond Public Schools board member Stephanie Bills. Lawton Public Schools will have a new school board member after Lori Bridges defeated fellow newcomer Bob Brown by fewer than 100 votes.[2] Cheryl Kelly, James F. Howell, Brent England, Staci L. Pruett, Tammy West, Ron B. Barber, Chad Vice and Ruth Veales were all elected in uncontested races that did not appear on the ballot.

Spotlight: Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools was the only district that held competitive elections for multiple seats. The district is closely monitoring its current overcrowding issue with a program known as Project Schoolhouse, which has been in place since the district closed 14 schools during the 2010-2011 school year. In the District 4 race, Shawna Keller will face incumbent Bobbie Gray-Elliott in an April 1, 2014 runoff election since neither candidate received at least 50 percent of votes. Keller came closest to the mark, earning 49.1 percent of the vote, while Gray-Elliott earned 35 percent and William D. Bickerstaff earned 15 percent of the vote. In the District 7 race, Suzanne Schreiber defeated fellow University of Tulsa graduate Gene Beach by a wide margin. Schreiber earned over 75 percent of the total votes cast in the election.[3][4]

Candidates

Note: An (i) next to a candidate's name indicates incumbent status.

Broken Arrow Public Schools
Zone 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Cheryl Kelly (i)

Midwest City-Del City Schools
Area 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg James F. Howell

Oklahoma City Public Schools
District 5
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Ruth Veales (i)

District 7
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Ron Millican (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Wilfredo Santos-Rivera

Union Public Schools
District 4
No candidates filed, board will appoint new member.

Edmond Public Schools
Area 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Cynthia Benson
UncheckedBox.jpg Stephanie Bills (i)

Moore Public Schools
District 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Staci L. Pruett

Owasso Public Schools
Ward 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Brent England (i)

Jenks Public Schools
Area 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Ron B. Barber (i)

Mustang Public Schools
Office 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Mike Kessler (i)

Office 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Amanda Strassle (i)

Putnam City Schools
District 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Tammy West (i)

Lawton Public Schools
Area 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Laurie Bridges
UncheckedBox.jpg Bob Brown

Norman Public Schools
Office 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Chad Vice

Tulsa Public Schools
District 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Bobbie Gray-Elliott (i)
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Shawna Keller
UncheckedBox.jpg William D. Bickerstaff

Note: Shawna Keller defeated Bobbie Gray-Elliott in the run-off election on April 1, 2014.

District 7
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Suzanne Schreiber
UncheckedBox.jpg Gene Beach

See also

References