'Tis the Season for Wild and Woolly School Board Election Stories
There’s no season like school board election season. At least not in Colorado. Believe it or not, these are real stories. As my dad is fond of saying, “You can’t make this up.”
Let’s start in Jeffco, where the Denver Post shattered to pieces the whole justification for a politically motivated recall election. A video was just released about Julie Williams, one of the candidates being threatened with recall, explaining how her opponents manipulated her special-needs son to participate in a protest against her:
Yes, I agree it’s disgusting. As if to provide further clarification to answer the question at the end of the video — “Now, who are the real bullies?” — some folks have responded basically by calling Mrs. Williams and her son Randy liars. Really? I guess that’s what you do when you know you’re in the wrong.
Meanwhile, also in Jeffco, last week’s campaign finance reports caused me some concerns. One of the candidates for the non-recall seats, Ali Lasell, paid exactly $7,886.87 to a group called Mad Dog Mail:
…a Democratic persuasion mail firm based out of Florida. As our name indicates, we are strong, tough Democrats who fight against Republican smears and attacks, working only with Democratic campaigns.
What’s particularly upsetting about this is that we’ve been told these pro-recall candidates (the so-called “Clean Slate”) are nonpartisan, nonpolitical, and in favor of cooperation, etc. Why then am I scared that a potential school board member might want to come “fight” my parents or teacher who may belong to a different political party?
At least Ms. Lasell lives in the district she is running to serve. The same cannot necessarily be said of one of the union-backed candidates in Mesa 51 on the Western Slope. This story popped up Saturday in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:
A current member of the Mesa County Valley School District 51 Board of Education, not seeking a new term this November, presented evidence to the media today that shows candidate for the board Paul Pitton does not live in the district.
Strangely, this situation brings back a real feeling of deja vu from the Adams 12 school board election in 2013. The case went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court before ineligible candidate Amy Speers’ votes were counted and a vacancy was declared.
In order to avoid a possible second legal mess, someone out there may need to file a legal complaint before the official Election Day. The saving grace for this situation is the absence of any apparent Klingon language connection.
Meanwhile, in Douglas County, outspoken opponents of reform continue to bristle at any mention of possible union role in the election to oust three reform board members:
The union boogie – man has been mentioned about 20 times in this debate. Let's not focus on actual issues. #VoteLRV
— Brian White (@TeacherBW) October 19, 2015
There’s only one problem with that: the union “boogie-man” is real. The Colorado AFL-CIO is sending out mailers in Dougco urging votes against the current board. I guess it’s OK for someone young and naive like me to be surprised, but what grownups are there who are truly shocked by this?
The union electioneering label isn’t limited to bigger districts. Complete Colorado reporter Sherrie Peif documented an unprecedented level of Colorado Education Association contributions to school board candidates in Steamboat Springs, not to mention independent expenditure groups funding radio ads in that race. Crazy!
The stories from these districts merely seem to scratch the surface of the craziness flying around during board election season:
- Chalkbeat Colorado reports on the Denver Public Schools candidate caught cribbing words from anti-reform, anti-choice paragon Diane Ravitch and national union president Randi Weingarten
- Some heavy-hitting endorsements are lining up behind a slate of reform candidates in Colorado Springs District 11, which once again could make this a location to keep an eye on
- Just to spice it up a little with one of the more controversial issues you can put out there, the outgoing president of the Pueblo City Schools board of education has floated the idea of consolidation with neighboring District 70
Should be a fun ride these next couple weeks, huh? Tis the season.