School board elections review: Voters opt for experience over new blood in nation's largest school districts

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November 6, 2013

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By Nick Katers

Ballots were cast in school board elections across the country on November 5. Voters in 205 school districts across 17 states chose candidates to fill 673 available seats. The spotlight districts summarized below cover the largest school districts with elections on Tuesday. In this sampling of 14 elections, voters chose incumbents over challengers in 17 out of 22 competitive races, a 77.2% rate. The incumbency advantage was stronger in California and Colorado where incumbents won in each highlighted race. Voters were less keen on school board incumbents in Columbus, Ohio where only one incumbent survived an election for three open seats. An (i) denotes an incumbent candidate.


All three incumbents in the San Bernardino City Unified School District elections were able to win re-election on November 5. Danny Tillman and Barbara Flores won new terms handily while Judy Penman narrowly outpaced Abigail M. Medina for the third available seat.[1]

San Bernardino City Unified School District
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Danny Tillman: 5,543 (i)
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Barbara Flores: 5,483 (i)
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Judy Penman: 4,596 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Abigail M. Medina: 4,506
UncheckedBox.jpg Kaisar Ahmed: 3,322
UncheckedBox.jpg Sonia Fernandez: 2,783
UncheckedBox.jpg Joe Navarro: 1,187


Incumbents fared well in spotlight districts throughout Colorado. Voters returned all four incumbents running for board seats in Cherry Creek School District, Denver Public Schools and Douglas County School District. Voters in Denver and Douglas County supported slates of candidates who advocated reforms including charter schools, new teacher evaluations and school choice.[2][3]

Cherry Creek School District
District D
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Randy Perlis: 20,227 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Brian Arnold: 14,508

District E
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Karen Fisher: 31,755

Denver Public Schools
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Barbara O'Brien: 62,119
UncheckedBox.jpg Michael Kiley: 32,469
UncheckedBox.jpg Joan Poston: 9,798

District 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Rosemary Rodriguez: 9,140
UncheckedBox.jpg Rosario C. de Baca: 5,880

District 3
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Mike Johnson: 15,742
UncheckedBox.jpg Meg Schomp: 11,817

District 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Landri Taylor: 15,914 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Roger Kilgore: 8,359

Douglas County School District
District B
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg James Geddes: 50,058
UncheckedBox.jpg Barbra Chase Burke: 45,177

District D
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Judi Reynolds: 49,378
UncheckedBox.jpg Julie Keim: 45,597

District E
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Doug Benevento: 49,319 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Bill Hodges: 45,704

District G
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Meghann Silverthorn: 50,749 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Ronda Scholting: 44,162

Jefferson County Public Schools
District 1
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Julie Williams: 71,527
UncheckedBox.jpg Tonya Aultman-Bettridge: 44,684

District 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg John Newkirk: 62,756
UncheckedBox.jpg Jeff Lamontagne: 52,588

District 5
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Ken Witt: 68,030
UncheckedBox.jpg Gordon Van de Water: 48,199


The Atlanta Board of Education will experience some turnover due to Tuesday's elections. Three incumbents won re-election to the board while District 1 incumbent Brenda J. Muhammad fell to challenger Leslie Grant. The top two candidates in Districts 5, 6, 8 and 9 will proceed to a runoff election on December 3, 2013 as no candidate won more than 50% of the vote. This nine-seat race attracted 26 candidates interested in appointing a new superintendent and solving the district's budgetary struggles.[4]

Atlanta Public Schools

District 1
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Leslie Grant: 3,800
UncheckedBox.jpg Brenda J. Muhammad: 2,848 (i)

District 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Byron D. Amos: 3,834 (i)

District 3
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Matt Westmoreland: 6,040

District 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Nancy M. Meister: 5,714 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Taryn Bowman: 3,042

District 5
RunoffArrow.jpg Steven Lee: 3,111
RunoffArrow.jpg Mary L. Palmer: 3,066
UncheckedBox.jpg Raynard Johnson: 1,354
UncheckedBox.jpg Charles Lawrence: 875

District 6
RunoffArrow.jpg Eshe' Collins: 2,812
RunoffArrow.jpg Dell Byrd: 1,980
UncheckedBox.jpg Shawnna Hayes-Tavares: 1,804
UncheckedBox.jpg Anne Wofford McKenzie: 1,204

At-large seat 7
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Courtney D. English: 26,219 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Nisha Simama: 16,439

At-large seat 8
RunoffArrow.jpg Reuben McDaniel: 16,043 (i)
RunoffArrow.jpg Cynthia Briscoe Brown: 11,264
UncheckedBox.jpg Mark Riley: 7,927
UncheckedBox.jpg Tom Tidwell: 6,608
UncheckedBox.jpg Dave Walker: 1,733

At-large seat 9
RunoffArrow.jpg Jason F. Esteves: 13,304
RunoffArrow.jpg Lori James: 11,909
UncheckedBox.jpg Sean Norman: 5,029
UncheckedBox.jpg Ed Johnson: 4,558
UncheckedBox.jpg Eddie Lee Brewster: 3,772

North Carolina

A field of 12 candidates pursued six available seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education. Voters returned four incumbents to the board but replaced District 2 member Richard McElrath with newcomer Thelma Byers-Bailey.[5]

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
District 1
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Rhonda Lennon: 9,382 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Christine Mast: 5,111

District 2
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Thelma Byers-Bailey: 8,449
UncheckedBox.jpg Richard McElrath: 3,510 (i)

District 3
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Joyce Waddell: 11,111 (i)

District 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Tom Tate: 6,969 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Queen Elizabeth Thompson: 521

District 5
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Eric Davis: 21,069 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Edward Donaldson: 4,262

District 6
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Paul Bailey: 8,509
UncheckedBox.jpg Bolyn McClung: 3,801
UncheckedBox.jpg Doug Wrona: 1,853


Voters in Columbus selected two newcomers and an incumbent for three available seats on the Columbus Board of Education. Challengers Michael D. Cole and Dominic Paretti join Ramona R. Reyes on the board. Incumbent Mike Wiles narrowly lost to Paretti for third place while board member Hanifah Kambon placed last with 12.9% of the vote.[6]

Columbus City Schools
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Michael D. Cole: 32,026
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Ramona R. Reyes: 25,435 (i)
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Dominic Paretti: 21,922
UncheckedBox.jpg Mike Wiles: 20,329 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Beverly J. Corner: 19,098
UncheckedBox.jpg Hanifah Kambon: 17,580 (i)


Incumbents received substantial support from residents in the Aldine Independent School District, Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District and Houston Independent School District. Voters selected five out of six incumbents running in seven contested seats across these districts.[7]

Aldine Independent School District
Position 1
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Patricia Ann Bourgeois: 3,873
UncheckedBox.jpg Jose Palacios, Jr.: 1,895 (i)

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District
Position 5
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg John Ogletree Jr.: 17,470 (i)

Position 6
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Don Ryan: 16,877 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Shaik Ahmed: 2,863

Position 7
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Bob R. Covey: 17,637 (i)

Houston Independent School District
District 1
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Anna Eastman: 7,878 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Hugo Mojica: 2,222

District 7
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Harvin Moore: 6,603 (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Anne Sung: 5,762

District 9
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Wanda Adams: 7,995
UncheckedBox.jpg Clyde Lemon: 2,038
UncheckedBox.jpg Coretta Mallet-Fontenot: 1,198


Voters in Prince William County chose a newcomer over an incumbent for the Woodbridge seat on the Prince William County Public School Board. Challenger Loree Williams won by a 23% margin against board member Steven Keen, who was appointed earlier this year to fill the seat.[8]

Prince William County Public Schools
Woodbridge District
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Loree Williams: 5,582
UncheckedBox.jpg Steven Keen: 3,473 (i)


The Seattle Public Schools elections on November 5 yielded two newcomers while an incumbent won re-election without opposition. The District 4 race concluded with Sue Peters defeating Suzanne Dale Estey after months of negative advertising and concerns about outside money. Stephan Blanford defeated fellow challenger LaCrese Green in District 5 while District 7 incumbent Betty Patu won re-election.[9]

Seattle Public Schools
District 4
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Sue Peters: 39,177
UncheckedBox.jpg Suzanne Dale Estey: 36,676

District 5
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Stephan Blanford: 64,540
UncheckedBox.jpg LaCrese Green: 8,788

District 7
CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Betty Patu: 56,889 (i)

See also