Douglas County School District elections (2013)

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2013 Douglas County School District Elections

General Election date:
November 5, 2013
Table of Contents
About the district
Method of election
What was at stake?
Key deadlines
Additional measures
External links
See also
Douglas County School District, Colorado
Douglas County, Colorado ballot measures
Local ballot measures, Colorado
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Four seats on the board of the Douglas County School Board of Directors are up for countywide election in 2013, covering Districts B, D, E and G. There are seven board seats in Douglas County divided by geographic districts. Each district is represented by a board member referred to as a Board Director. Board members are elected to four-year terms.[1]

The Douglas County School District is the third largest school district in Colorado and served 61,465 students during the 2012-2013 school year.

In 2013, the school board election will determine leadership on the board, whether members backed by the local Republican Party will maintain the majority of seats on the Board as well as the future of the board's reform efforts. The reform issues at stake this year include a voucher program, and a pay-for-performance plan for teachers.[2]

About the district

See also: Douglas County School District, Colorado
Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, CO
Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, Colorado. Douglas County is located between the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs and the county seat is Castle Rock. According to the 2010 US Census, Douglas County is home to 285,465 residents.[3]


Douglas County outperforms the rest of Colorado based on average household income, poverty rate and graduation rates in 2011. The average household income in Douglas County was $101,193 compared to $57,685 for the state of Colorado. The poverty rate in Douglas County was 3.5% compared to 12.5% for the entire state. The U.S. Census also found that 54.6% of Douglas County residents aged 25 years and older attained a bachelor's degree compared to 36.3% in Colorado.[3]

Method of board member selection

The seven members of the Douglas County School Board are elected by voters throughout the county to serve four-year terms. On November 5, 2013, there will be an election for four school board seats.

The Douglas County School District did not hold a primary election. Board seats for Districts B, D, E and G will be up for vote in the general election on November 5, 2013. Candidates in Douglas County had to file nominating petitions along with 50 valid signatures with the Elections Department by August 30, 2013 in order to qualify for the ballot. State law requires candidates to submit disclosures of contributions and expenditures to comply with the Fair Campaign Practices Act on October 15, November 1 and December 5.[5]

Voters in Douglas County were able to request mail ballots from the Elections Department by October 15. These ballots were sent out to registered voters who submitted requests by the deadline starting on October 15. Mailed ballots can be dropped off at nine approved locations throughout Douglas County by 7:00pm local time on November 5. Voters can also mail their ballots back to the Elections Department though ballots must arrive by November 5.[6]




  • Barbra Chase Burke
    • Graduate, Iowa State University
    • VP of Sales and Marketing, SyncHR
    • CEO of Organization in-a-Box
  • James Geddes
    • Graduate, University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Colorado-Denver
    • Surgeon
  • Judi Reynolds
    • Stay-at-home mom
    • Graduate of University of Tennessee, Knoxville and East Tennessee State University
  • Julie Keim
    • Director of Finance and Contracts, Creative Energy Systems
  • Doug Benevento
    • Incumbent
    • Graduate, University of Colorado and John Hopkins University
    • Attorney
  • Ronda Scholting
    • Public Relations Manager, RE/MAX
    • Graduate, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The Douglas County Republican Party endorsed incumbents Doug Benevento and Meghann Silverthorn as well as challengers James Geddes and Judi Reynolds in late August 2013.[7] The Douglas County Federation of Teachers endorsed Barbra Chase Burke, Bill Hodges, Julie Keim and Ronda Scholting in the first week of September.[8] Scholting has also received endorsements from Progressive Majority, the local chapter of the AFL-CIO and education activist Diane Ravitch's advocacy organization, the Network for Public Education.[9][10][11]

Campaign finance

A total of $199,030.35 in campaign contributions were reported by candidates for the Douglas County Board of Education according to the Colorado Secretary of State. Doug Benevento, James Geddes, Judi Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn each received $25,000 from Texas businessman Alex Cranberg. Investment banker Ralph Nagel donated $10,000 to the same four candidates. Cranberg and Nagel are advocates for school choice who founded the Denver-based Alliance for Choice in Education. In total, Cranberg and Nagel contributed 89% of the $156,701.50 reported by Benevento, Geddes, Reynolds and Silverthorn.[12]

Challengers Barbra Chase Burke, Bill Hodges, Julie Keim and Ronda Scholting received a total of $42,328.85 in campaign contributions. Representative Jared Polis donated $1,000 to Scholting, representing the largest single donation to this group of candidates. All four candidates received $500 from Cindy Barnard, the president of Taxpayers for Public Education seeking legal action against the district's school voucher program. Burke, Hodges, Keim and Scholting received 556 donations while the pro-board slate received 84 donations.[12]

Candidate Contributions Expenditures Cash on hand
Barbra Chase Burke[13] $8,234.97 $2,628.51 $5,606.46
James Geddes[14] $38,797.50 $11,140.52 $27,656.98
Judi Reynolds[15] $38,731.50 $8,402.62 $30,328.88
Julie Keim[16] $7,121.98 $3,792.51 $3,329.47
Doug Benevento[17] $40,010.00 $1,094.62 $39,707.73
Bill Hodges[18] $11,444.93 $5,914.26 $5,530.67
Meghann Silverthorn[19] $39,162.50 $9,633.53 $29,750.22
Ronda Scholting[20] $15,526.97 $6,057.73 $9,469.24


Five candidate forums were held throughout the district prior to the November 5, 2013 general election. The first forum took place on September 12 at Douglas County High School and the last forum was held on October 20 at the fire station in Franktown.[21]

Past elections

What's at stake?

Four seats, including that of the board president, are at stake. John Carson, the incumbent in District B, is not running for re-election. Barbra Chase Burke and James Geddes are running for election to the seat. Carson, who was first elected to the board in 2005, is ineligible to run for another term because of Amendment 17 to the Colorado Constitution, which says that no "elected official of district....shall serve more than two consecutive terms in office".

The District D race includes newcomers Judi Reynolds and Julie Keim running for the seat currently held by Carrie Mendoza. Stephen Boyd announced that he would run in the District D race but withdrew before filing his nomination petition so that he would not "split the vote."[22] Incumbent Doug Benevento will face challenger Bill Hodges in the District E race. Ronda Scholting has filed with the Colorado Secretary of State to challenge for Meghann Silverthorn's seat in District G.


DougCo Parents Want Change

Alleged district abuses and campaign violations

District D candidate Julie Keim filed a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State on October 17, 2013, alleging that the school district has used resources to support its preferred school board candidates and to deny challengers information regarding the involvement of outside groups and individuals in the election. Local journalist Jane Reuter highlighted that, "In early October, Keim requested copies of emails exchanged between the district’s cabinet-level staff, school board members, Douglas County Educational Foundation board members and the alleged supporters – including Americans for Prosperity, the Independence Institute and campaign contributors Alex Cranberg and Ralph Nagel, among others."[23] Texas businessman Alex Cranberg and investment banker Ralph Nagel co-founded the Alliance for Choice in Education to promote school choice and have contributed approximately 89% of the $156,701.50 in campaign donations reported by Doug Benevento, James Geddes, Judi Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn.[12]

District administration conducted a search for the requested correspondence that turned up more than 13,000 e-mails, 101 of which Keim had received by October 23. She criticized administrators for the slow pace and claimed, "I think they’re trying to delay so nothing can be exposed before the election. [...]I want them to be open and honest and truly transparent about what is going on with all these organizations. It’s concerning to me so many people who are not local have such a voice in our future." School board Vice President Kevin Larsen responded to her allegations by labeling them "[...]a patently frivolous political stunt masquerading as a complaint." District legal counsel Rob Ross explained the delay by stating that each e-mail must be reviewed by district personnel for legally protected information before being disclosed.[23]

Audio editing controversy

In late September, Meghann Silverthorn accused challenger Ronda Scholting of selectively editing a September 13 interview between Silverthorn and local radio host Mike Rosen. The interview featured a discussion of the motivations behind efforts to replace current board members in the 2013 election. Rosen stated, "These are nice, well-meaning, naive soccer moms who can’t distinguish between an individual teacher and the collective menace and intransigence of a teachers’ union with its political power" and Silverthorn agreed with the statement. Scholting's ad includes Rosen saying, "You’re up against mostly women. Nice, well-meaning, naive soccer moms," and audio of Silverthorn's agreement with Rosen. Scholting notes that her editing was comparable to techniques used by broadcast journalists while Silverthorn believes the ad does not truly represent her position on district policies.[24]

Rally outside district offices

A September 27 demonstration outside of the district's administrative offices featured 200 attendees marching in support of local teachers. Demonstrators held signs that supported teachers and opposed the board's reform efforts over the past four years. According to interviews with the Denver Post, attendees argued that teachers were frustrated by limited instructional time, new evaluations and the district's attitude toward instructional staff. District officials have countered these claims by citing internal surveys with teachers that revealed high morale and greater flexibility in the classroom.[25]

Involvement of community groups

Local groups have ramped up efforts to support incumbents and challengers in the 2013 election. DougCo Champions for Kids is a non-profit that is also registered as a part of Texas-based firm C3 Solutions. This organization supports the reform efforts of the current board through direct mail and door-to-door campaigning. DougCo Champions for Kids receives some funding from the Independence Institute, a Denver-based think tank that promotes free market principles. The C3 Solutions executive board features two officers who are affiliated with the institute. Another pro-board group is the Douglas County Education Alliance, which has been connected with an Arizona consultancy called DC-London founded by Republican adviser Sean Noble.[26]

Challengers in the 2013 race are supported by a non-profit called the Strong Schools Coalition and a political action committee (PAC) called Douglas County Parents. Strong Schools Coalition has received $4,000 in donations according to group president Lauren Mutton. The group states that it is self-funded with contributions from Taxpayers for Public Education used for legal fees associated with a lawsuit against the district's voucher program.[26]

Americans for Prosperity, "It's Working"

Board reform efforts

The board's reform efforts including a voucher program, dissolution of the teachers' union agreement and a pay-for-performance plan have become the focus of attention in the 2013 campaign. Strong Schools Coalition has led efforts to reverse some of these reforms and eliminate political involvement in board functions.[27] The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity ran ads in the region starting in August supporting the board's reform efforts while admonishing critics. [28]

Partisanship in board races

Though Colorado school boards are officially nonpartisan, Douglas County has drawn attention for the involvement of the local Republican Party in board elections. In the 2009 and 2011 elections, the Douglas County Republican Party endorsed the six current members and former member Dan Gerken.[29] The party has endorsed incumbents Doug Benevento and Meghann Silverthorn as well as challengers James Geddes and Judi Reynolds for the 2013 campaign.[30] Former District G candidate Nicholas Land criticized the board as too loyal to the Republican Party and wanted the board to represent the entire community regardless of partisan affiliation.[31] Former District D candidate Kevin Leung refused to interview with the Douglas County Republicans after starting his campaign. "I believe that local, non-partisan school board elections should not be drawn into party politics. Decisions and agendas should not become strongly influenced by party ideologies instead of serving the people and the children in our schools," said Leung.[32]

Key deadlines

The following dates are key deadlines for the Douglas County School District election in 2013:[33]

Deadline Event
August 7, 2013 Last day for nominating petitions to be made available to candidates.
August 30, 2013 Last day to file nominating petitions.
September 3, 2013 Last day to file as a write-in candidate.
October 15, 2013 Candidates must file first Fair Campaign Practices Act report detailing their contributions and expenditures.
October 15, 2013 First day ballots are mailed to registered voters in Douglas County.
November 1, 2013 Candidates must file second Fair Campaign Practices Act report detailing their contributions and expenditures.
November 5, 2013 General election and last day for voters to submit mailed ballots at ballot drop-off locations.
November 22, 2013 Certification of general election votes.
December 5, 2013 Candidates must file third Fair Campaign Practices Act report detailing their contributions and expenditures.

Additional elections on the ballot

The Douglas County School District election will share the ballot with two statewide measures and a city council election in Aurora. Voters will decide on Colorado Proposition AA, which would apply a 10% sales tax and a 15% excise tax on marijuana sold for recreational use. The ballot also includes Amendment 66, a constitutional amendment that would increase income taxes to 5% for incomes up to $75,000 and 5.9% for incomes over $75,000 in order to support public education. The Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose Amendment 66 in fall 2013.[34] The residents of Aurora can vote on five City Council seats including two at-large members and seats in Wards 1, 2 and 3.[35]

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. DCSD Board of Education, "Index," accessed July 9, 2013
  2. Jane Reuter,, "School board election gearing up," June 25, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 U.S. Census, "Douglas County Quick Facts, Accessed July 16, 2013
  4. Colorado Secretary of State, “Voter Registration Numbers,” Accessed July 19, 2013
  5. Colorado Secretary of State, "Fair Campaign Practices Act," Accessed October 23, 2013
  6. Douglas County Elections Department, "Ballot Drop-off Locations," Accessed October 18, 2013
  7. Highlands Ranch News, "Local Republicans endorse candidates," August 19, 2013
  8. Our Colorado News, "Teachers’ union endorses board candidates," September 6, 2013
  9. Progressive Majority, "Ronda Scholting," accessed July 19, 2013
  10. Colorado Observer, "Union-Backed School Board Candidate Called Out for Doctoring Audio", September 21, 2013
  11. NPE News Briefs, "NPE Endorses Ronda Scholting for Douglas County Colorado School Board," August 3, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Our Colorado News, "Campaign funds tell different stories in Douglas County School Board race," October 18, 2013
  13. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  14. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  15. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  16. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  17. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  18. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  19. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  20. Colorado Secretary of State, "Details for the October 15, 2013 - Report of Contributions and Expenditures," accessed October 24, 2013
  21. Our Colorado News, "Five candidate forums set," September 12, 2013
  22. Jane Reuter,, "Candidate field changes as election draws closer," August 22, 2013
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jane Reuter,, "Candidate alleges campaign violation," October 23, 2013
  24. Jane Reuter, Our Colorado News, "Radio show cut ignites candidate controversy," September 30, 2013
  25. Carlos Illescas, Denver Post, "More than 200 people rally against Douglas County school policies," September 27, 2013
  26. 26.0 26.1 Jane Reuter, Our Colorado News, "Variety of groups joining school fray," September 25, 2013
  27. Jane Reuter,, "Petition decries politics in school elections," August 21, 2013
  28. Jane Reuter,, "School board election gearing up," July 8, 2013
  29. Jane Reuter,, "Douglas County GOP hosts school board," January 19, 2013
  30. Jane Reuter, Highlands Ranch News, "Local Republicans endorse candidates," August 19, 2013
  31. Clayton Woullard,, "Douglas County teen to run for school board," June 26, 2013
  32. Kevin Leung, EdNews Voices, "Voices: Declining a party endorsement in school board elections," July 25, 2013
  33. Colorado Secretary of State, "2013 Election Calendar," accessed July 8, 2013
  34. Denver Post, "Colorado Amendment 66: Is it right for schools?," October 13, 2013
  35. City of Aurora, "Upcoming Elections," accessed July 8, 2013