The votes are in and we are about half way to the finish line as four of the races will be decided in run-off elections on December 5.
The outright winners were:
- Leslie Grant (D-1), with 57.1% of the vote, defeated incumbent Brenda Muhammad. With Grant’s victory, this means that at least five of the nine member Board of Education will be new. Grant had strong support in her community and had by far the largest number of contributors of any race – and they turned out to vote. Muhammad has served with distinction and my sense is that she will continue to be a strong voice in the community.
- Nancy Meister (I) (D-4), with 65.2% of the vote, easily defeated Taryn Bowman. Ms. Meister ran on the record she established during her first term and it appears that the community approved of her efforts.
- Courtney English (I), with 61.3% of the vote, turned back a challenge from Nisha Simama. English has been an advocate for early education and placing more authority, responsibility and accountability in the hands of the schoolhouse leaders – his positions have resulted in a strong victory.
- Matt Westmoreland (D-3) ran unopposed.
- Byron Amos (I) also ran unopposed.
Congratulations to all on a job well done!
None of the four races with greater than two candidates resulted in an outright victory and all four will be decided in run-off elections on December 3. The results from last night are as follows:
- District 5 – Steven Lee who received 36.9% of the vote will face off in December against Mary Palmer who received 36.3% of the vote. Lee has the support of Mayor Reed’s super PAC, but is still plagued by previous revelations about his education credentials. Expect to hear more about this as the run-off gets under way.
- District 6 – Eshe’ Collins received 36.0% of the vote and outdistanced her nearest challenger Dell Byrd by nearly 10%. Byrd received 25.3% of the vote in the four-way race and the candidates will meet again in a run-off. Shawnna Hayes-Tavares received 23.1% and Anne McKenzie 15.4%.
- At Large 8 – Reuben McDaniel (I), the current chairman of the Board garnered the most votes in this five way election with 36.7% of the total. He will face off in December against Cynthia Briscoe Brown who received 25.8% of the votes. Mark Riley, who raised over $129 thousand in contributions (the largest amount for any Board of Education candidate) and had strong support in the business community, received 18.2% of the vote. Tom Tidwell came in with 15.1% and Dave Walker with 4.0%. Expect this race to get a lot of attention going into the run-off in December.
- At Large 9 – Jason Esteves received 34.3% of the vote and will face Lori James in the run-off. James received 30.7% to earn a spot in the run-off and far outpaced the other three candidates in the race. Sean Norman received 13.0%, Ed Johnson received 11.8% and Eddie Lee Brewster received 9.7%.
A couple of thoughts on the outcomes so far:
- While there appeared to be an “anti-incumbency” mood in the electorate, only Brenda Muhammad lost outright, while incumbents Meister and English won handily with McDaniel’s going into a run-off.
- The new Board will have at least five new members and possibly six depending on the outcome of the McDaniel/Briscoe Brown run-off.
- While there was some concerns regarding the amount of money infused into the election, the candidates with the highest fund-raising totals did not necessarily win – Mark Riley’s $129 thousand (52% of the total contributions in the AL-8 race) and Brenda Muhammad’s $92 thousand (a 3:2 edge over Grant) was not sufficient to either get a spot in the run-off or win outright.
- At this point, it appears the voters simply ignored the scare tactics used against the former Teach for America candidates. English won outright, Westmoreland ran unopposed and both Esteves and Collins received the highest vote totals in their races to earn a spot in the run-off in December. It appears that voters looked to what the candidates said and did versus being swayed by outside voices.
The voters have now had their initial say and the first round has significantly changed the Board of Education composition. The run-off’s in December could result in even a more dramatic change with the potential of six new faces on the Board.
Below is the actual vote count and percentages for each race: