School board election wrap-up: Incumbents re-elected overwhelmingly in November 5 elections

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November 8, 2013

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By Nick Katers
Ballotpedia covered 205 school board elections for 673 seats in 17 states on November 5, 2013. Our coverage followed elections held in the nation's largest school districts by enrollment. Hot topics in board elections varied from ethics charges against board candidates in the Atlanta Public Schools elections to concerns about underperforming charter schools in Antelope Valley Union High School District.[1][2] Districts across the country are also debating short-term budget concerns as well as reform efforts focused on school choice and teacher evaluations. Ballotpedia's coverage of the November 5 school board elections included an analysis of the strength of incumbency.

Incumbency advantage

Current board members fared well in the November 5, 2013 elections covered by Ballotpedia. A total of 404 incumbents sought re-election and 326 were successful for a 80.6% re-election rate. Districts in New York and South Carolina had 100% re-election rates though these districts had relatively few seats in our coverage. School districts in Washington had the most incumbents (55) seeking re-election on November 5, 2013 with an 89.0% re-election rate. School districts in New Jersey were least likely to return incumbents to office with a 58.8% re-election rate.

Incumbent results by state
State Total seats Incumbents seeking re-election Incumbents elected Success rate
California 120 52 42 80.7%
Colorado 58 22 16 72.7%
Connecticut 35 20 15 75%
Georgia 9 5 3 75.0%
Massachusetts 57 48 43 89.5%
Minnesota 31 19 15 78.9%
Mississippi 2 - - -
New Hampshire 14 12 11 91.6%
New Jersey 44 34 20 58.8%
New York 3 1 1 100.0%
North Carolina 12 11 8 72.7%
Ohio 62 42 33 78.5%
Pennsylvania 76 45 37 82.2%
South Carolina 10 5 5 100.0%
Texas 32 14 10 71.4%
Virginia 28 20 18 90.0%
Washington 80 55 49 89.0%
Total 673 404 326 80.6%

Notable elections

  • Candidates in the Denver Public Schools elections raised $595,118.21 prior to November 1, the largest amount among school board elections covered by Ballotpedia.[3]
  • The Perth Amboy Public Schools elections centered on the contentious relationship between Superintendent Janice Caffrey and current board members. Voters returned only one of three incumbents from a board that suspended Caffrey in October 2013 after allegations of misinformation to the board and contract manipulation. New members Samuel Lebreault and Anthony Bermudez are not supportive of Caffrey's reinstatement through the end of her contract in 2014.[4]
  • Voters in the Bridgeport Public Schools election chose three Democratic candidates who ran in opposition to current Superintendent Paul Vallas and Mayor Bill Finch. A slate including Andre Baker, Jr., Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner won a September primary against three candidates endorsed by Finch and the local party committee. Baker, Hennessey and Gardner opposed Finch's efforts in 2011 to seek a state takeover of the district and the reforms pursued by Vallas. Incumbent Working Families member Sauda Baraka won a third term as a vocal critic of current district policies. This slate is joined on the board by Republican Joe Larcheveque, who expressed concern with continued Democratic dominance over district policy.[5]
  • Jeni Rice won election to the Yakima Board of Directors over incumbent Graciela Villanueva despite withdrawing from the race in September. Rice announced her withdrawal from the race nearly two months before Election Day to pursue a job opportunity. The withdrawal took place after the deadline to remove names from the ballot and Rice won election by a 25% margin. Villanueva alleged that voters mistook the member-elect with current member Martha Rice. Jeni Rice has stated she will accept the position despite not running an active campaign.[6]

See also