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By Abbey Smith
One newcomer and two incumbents were elected to school boards in California and South Dakota in general elections held on April 14, 2015. Both school districts saw higher voter turnouts than in similar past elections, and voters in South Dakota had a chance to vote on a local referendum as well as school board members.
The Burbank Unified School District in California held a general election to determine who would hold the last seat up for election on the board after the other two were won outright by an incumbent and a newcomer in the primary election on February 24, 2015. The two candidates who competed for the open at-large seat are both academics involved in higher education. Armond Aghakhanian, a professor at Woodbury University, defeated fellow challenger Gregory Sousa, a student pursuing his second graduate degree.
In the Sioux Falls School District in South Dakota, two incumbents, Kate Parker and Todd Thoelke, ran against one challenger, a human services case worker named Randy Dobberpuhl, for two at-large seats. Parker, a government programs manager, and Thoelke, a real estate broker, both successfully retained their seats.
A local referendum seeking to change the school start date was also on the ballot in Sioux Falls. Voters rejected the referendum. If it had passed, it would have given the school district the ability to set the school start date before Labor Day.
Both districts saw greater voter turnout than in previous election years. The Burbank school district saw 18.0 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2015 general election according to unofficial election results, which was an increase from the 16.6 percent who turned out for the 2015 primary election. Over 300 fewer ballots were cast in 2013, when voters last elected members to the board. Sioux Falls had approximately 15.6 percent of eligible voters turn out for the election. Though this was lower than the 32.9 percent who turned out in 2014 when the school board election was paired with elections for municipal offices, it was higher than the 3.7 percent who turned out in 2013.
- ↑ Burbank City Clerk's Office, "Final Results are Tabulated for Burbank’s 2015 Primary Nominating Election," accessed March 9, 2015
- ↑ Burbank City Clerk's Office, "2015 Election Results," accessed April 14, 2015
- ↑ South Dakota Secretary of State, "2015 Election Results," accessed April 14, 2015
- ↑ Argus Leader, "Results: Post-Labor Day start wins; Thoelke, Parker re-elected," April 14, 2015
- ↑ Burbank City Clerk's Office, "2015 Election Results: Final Results Tabulated for Burbank’s 2015 Primary Nominating Election," accessed April 15, 2015
- ↑ Argus Leader, "School elections: Another year of 'awful' turnout?," April 14, 2015
- ↑ Argus Leader, "New school start date: Sept. 8," April 14, 2015
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