Author

Tyler King

Tyler King is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at tyler.king@ballotpedia.org

School board election comes down to four votes in El Paso, Texas

In El Paso, Texas, unofficial election night vote totals on June 15 showed Joshua Acevedo leading Rene Vargas with 578 votes to Vargas’ 574 votes. The two candidates competed in a general election runoff for the District 3 seat of the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. Vargas had not made a decision about whether to challenge the results as of Saturday night.
 
The District 6 seat went to a runoff as well, with Fareed Khlayel winning with 72.4% of the vote. The elections in District 2 and District 7 were decided during the May 4 general election.
 
The El Paso Independent School District serves about 60,000 students.
 


Maine House special election on June 11 to fill Denno vacancy

A special election is on the June 11 ballot for District 45 of the Maine House of Representatives. Stephen Moriarty (D) and Kevin Hughes (R) are running in the general election. Moriarty recently retired as an attorney, and he served one term in the state House from 2012 to 2014. Hughes runs a family-owned embroidery and screen printing business.
 
The seat became vacant when Dale Denno (D) resigned on March 27 for health reasons. Denno had served in the state House since 2016. He won re-election in 2018 with 65% of the vote in the general election.
 
As of June, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Heading into the election, Democrats have an 88-56 majority in the state House with one vacancy. There are six independent members in the chamber. Maine has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 


Two California Senate special elections on the ballot June 4

Special elections for two California State Senate seats are on the June 4 ballot:
  • In District 1, Republicans Brian Dahle and Kevin Kiley are facing off in the general election. Dahle and Kiley earned 29.4% and 28.4% of the vote, respectively, in the March 26 primary ahead of four other candidates. The seat became vacant after Ted Gaines (R) was elected to represent District 1 of the California State Board of Equalization. Gaines had represented District 1 in the state Senate since 2011. He last won re-election in 2016 with 64.0% of the vote in the general election.
  • In District 33, Lena Gonzalez (D) and Jack Guerrero (R) are facing off in the general election. Gonzalez and Guerrero earned 31.6% and 14.2% of the vote in the March 26 primary, respectively, ahead of 10 other candidates. The seat became vacant after Ricardo Lara (D) was elected to serve as the insurance commissioner of California. Lara had represented District 33 since 2012. He last won re-election in 2016 with 78.7% of the vote in the general election.
Heading into the elections, Democrats have a 28-10 majority in the state Senate with two vacancies. California has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 
As of June, 58 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


Mayor Sickles recalled after second attempt in Wickenburg, Arizona

A recall effort was successful on Tuesday against Mayor Everett Sickles in Wickenburg, Arizona. Former city councilman Rui Pereira defeated Sickles with 52.9% of the vote.
 
The recall petition read, “Whereas Everett Sickles, the mayor of Wickenburg, was elected to represent the town, its residents, and its economic interests, he has failed to do so. Instead, Mr. Sickles has used his position of authority to question the future of our local police department, criticize the business community, disparage town employees, and create an overall environment so toxic, it is threatening future development and quality of life. Tens of thousands of dollars have been wasted on his frivolous legal claims and baseless complaints against town vendors. His primary role is to promote our wonderful community. He has done the opposite.”
 
In response to the recall petition, Sickles said, “Basically, it’s a pack of lies […] None of this makes any sense to me. You can twist it any way you want. You know that’s probably what will happen. This whole thing, the people want me to do something, I do it.” Sickles had previously criticized the local chamber of commerce’s role in economic development and stated, “the problem must be solved, before the town can move forward.”
 
Petitioners submitted 575 valid signatures—440 were required. An earlier attempt to recall Sickles failed in July 2018 after petitioners only had gathered 400 valid signatures.
 
Additional reading:


Three Pennsylvania state legislative specials on May 21

In Pennsylvania, special elections are being held for District 33 and District 41 of the state Senate and District 11 of the state House on May 21. All three seats were vacated by Republican incumbents.
  • In Senate District 33, Sarah Hammond (D) and Doug Mastriano (R) are running in the general election. The seat became vacant after Richard Alloway (R) resigned on February 28, 2019. Alloway cited political gridlock, a lack of advancement opportunities, and burnout as reasons for his resignation. Alloway had served in the state Senate since 2009.
  • In Senate District 41, Susan Boser (D) and Joe Pittman (R) are running in the general election. The seat became vacant after Don White (R) resigned on February 28, 2019, for health reasons. White had served in the state Senate since 2001.
  • In House District 11, Samuel Doctor (D) and Marci Mustello (R) are running in the general election. The seat became vacant after Brian Ellis (R) resigned on March 18, 2019, following allegations of sexual assault. Ellis had served in the state House since 2005.
Three other state legislative special elections have already been held in Pennsylvania in 2019. On April 2, Senate District 37 flipped from Republican control to Democratic control. Six seats have flipped as a result of 2019’s state legislative special elections. Elections have been held for 26 Democratic seats and 14 Republican seats. Four seats have flipped from Democratic control to Republican control. One seat has flipped from Republican control to Democratic control. One seat has flipped from Republican control to an independent officeholder.
 
Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Heading into the special elections, Republicans hold a 26-22 majority in the state Senate with two vacancies. The state House is controlled by a 109-93 Republican majority with one vacancy. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) was first elected in 2014 and won re-election to a second term in 2018.
 


Democrats hold seat in Connecticut House special election

A special election for District 130 of the Connecticut House of Representatives was held on May 7. Unofficial results showed 23-year-old Antonio Felipe (D) winning with 47.2% of the vote. Felipe will be the youngest member in the state House. The second place finisher, Kate Rivera, earned 34.8% of the vote and was the first petition candidate running for the Connecticut General Assembly to qualify for full public campaign financing.
 
District 130 became vacant after Ezequiel Santiago (D) passed away on March 15, 2019. He had represented the district since 2009.
 
Following the special election, the Connecticut House of Representatives has 91 Democrats and 60 Republicans. A majority in the chamber requires 76 seats. Connecticut has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 
As of May, 55 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 22 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


Special election to be held April 30 to fill vacant Wisconsin State Assembly seat

A special election is being held for District 64 of the Wisconsin State Assembly on April 30. Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Tip McGuire (D) and Mark Stalker (R), a former Kenosha school board member, are running in the general election.
 
The seat became vacant when Peter Barca (D) stepped down in January 2019 after Gov. Tony Evers (D) nominated him as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Barca had served in the state Assembly since 2008.
 
Prior to the special election, the Wisconsin State Assembly has 35 Democrats, 63 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 50 seats. Wisconsin has a divided government, meaning no political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


Mayor-endorsed candidates for Newark school board win election for ninth consecutive year

Three at-large seats on the Newark Public Schools school board in New Jersey were up for general election on April 16. Incumbent Tave Padilla, A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, and Shayvonne Anderson ran together on the Moving Newark Schools Forward slate and were endorsed by Mayor Ras Baraka. They won the 2019 election and were the only candidates to receive double-digit percentages of the vote. This marked the ninth consecutive election where a slate endorsed by the mayor won. The board is comprised entirely of members who were backed by Baraka.
 
Incumbent Leah Owens, Denise Cole, and Saafir Jenkins ran together on the Children Over Politics team. The other candidates in the race—Maggie Freeman, Priscilla Garces, Arlene Ramsey, Yolanda Johnson, and Denise Ann Crawford—ran as independents. The third incumbent, Deborah Kim Thompson-Gaddy, did not file for re-election.
 
The 2019 election was the second since local control was returned to the district by the New Jersey State Board of Education on September 13, 2017. The state originally took over the district in 1995. The change in 2017 gave control to the Newark Board of Education to make decisions about finances, operations, curriculum, and programs in the district.
 


Two candidates running in Honolulu City Council rematch

The city of Honolulu, Hawaii, is holding a special election for the District 4 seat of the city council on April 13. Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters are running in the special general election.
 
The special election was called after the results of the election on November 6, 2018, were invalidated by the Hawaii Supreme Court. The court found that mail-in votes were mishandled by election officials. Ozawa defeated Waters by a 22-vote margin in the November 2018 general election. The two candidates also faced off in 2014, with Ozawa winning by a 47-vote margin.
 
Honolulu is the largest city in Hawaii and the 53rd-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Georgia to hold third consecutive election for state House seat after two cancellations

Both Florida and Georgia have state legislative special primaries on the ballot on April 9.
 
In Georgia, Chris Erwin and Dan Gasaway are running in a Republican primary for the state House’s District 28 seat. The special election will be the third contest between Gasaway and Erwin. The regularly scheduled primary on May 22, 2018, was deemed inconclusive due to ballot errors, so a new primary took place on December 4, 2018. The results of the December 2018 special election were also deemed inconclusive, so a judge ruled that another new election should be held.
 
Because the special primary election is being held to rectify the results of the original primary, and because no Democratic candidates filed to run in 2018, the winner of the April 9 primary will be declared the winner of the seat outright.
 
Gasaway held the seat from 2013 to 2019. After Erwin was declared the winner of the special primary in December 2018, he was sworn in on January 14. On February 8, a judge determined that Erwin was no longer a member of the state House.
 
In Florida, special primaries are being held on April 9 for three state House seats. General elections will take place on June 18.
  • In District 7, Lynda Bell, Virginia Fuller, Jason Shoaf, and Mike Watkins are running in the Republican primary. Ryan Terrell is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. The seat became vacant after Halsey Beshears (R) resigned on January 11, 2019, to become the Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  • In District 38, Randy Maggard and David McCallister are running in the Republican primary. Kelly Smith is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. The seat became vacant after Daniel Burgess (R) was appointed as the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on January 24, 2019.
  • In District 97, Dan Daley is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. No Republican candidates filed to run for election. The seat became vacant after Jared Moskowitz (D) resigned in January 2019 to become the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
In 2019, there have been 52 state legislative special elections scheduled or held so far in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


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