Seven candidates are running for three districts on the Douglas County School Board in Colorado on Nov. 7, 2023. Candidates must live in the district they represent, but every voter in the school district votes in every race, as if each is an at-large election. The Douglas County School District served approximately 63,000 students as of the 2020-21 school year and is located south of Denver.
Heading into the election, the board has a 5-2 conservative majority. Four members of the conservative majority were elected as part of a slate in November 2021. The board’s two liberal members, Susan Meek and David Ray, hold two of the seats up for election this year. Conservative member Jason Page holds the third.
Incumbent Meek, first elected in 2019, and Andy Jones are running in District A.
Incumbent Page, David DiCarlo, and Brad Geiger are running in District C. The school board appointed Page to the office in June 2023 to replace former board member Elizabeth Hanson. Hanson resigned during a school board meeting in May while the district debated revisions to its equity policy.
Maria Sumnicht and Valerie Thompson are running in District F. Incumbent Ray is term-limited.
Jones, Page, and Sumnicht are running as the “Best DCSD” slate of candidates that aligns with the existing conservative majority. On the slate’s website, the candidates say they “are passionate about our public school district and everything we do will focus on academic excellence and alternative pathways to student success.”
Ray, the term-limited member of the board’s minority, endorsed a candidate in each race (Meek, Geiger, and Thompson).
A best-case scenario for conservative candidates would see a unanimous board majority, while a best-case scenario for liberal candidates would see a 4-3 conservative majority.
The other four candidates are not running as part of a slate. DiCarlo said he would be a “conservative anchor who will represent and be accountable to the citizens and taxpayers of Douglas County.” Geiger said he was running “to help the board work together to address…important concerns without rancor and avoiding outside political influence.” Meek said her top priorities were supporting “safe and welcoming schools, stable teaching and learning environments, locally-driven innovation, and equitable learning opportunities.” Thompson said she was running “to provide stability for our district through informed decision-making, following processes and protocols, and operating in a manner that welcomes an engaged community.”
The elections follow two noteworthy events. In February 2022, the board voted 4-3 along ideological lines to terminate the contract of former superintendent Corey Wise, which resulted in a $830,000 settlement. In spring 2021, amid delays in returns to in-person instruction for grades 6-12, members of the board’s liberal minority were targeted in unsuccessful recall attempts.
Voters elect directors to four-year terms in odd-numbered years. The filing deadline for this election was Sept. 1, 2023.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this story reported that the Douglas County School District was north of Denver. It has also been updated with a quote from DiCarlo.