CategoryLocal

Nine candidates running in Los Angeles’ mayoral primary election

Nine candidates are running in the June 7, 2022, primary for mayor of Los Angeles, California. Incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) could not run for re-election due to term limits.

Karen Bass (D) and Rick Caruso (D) have led the field in media coverage and fundraising. Though the election is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are registered Democrats. Caruso announced he changed his party registration from no party preference to Democrat in January 2022. Bass has held elected office as a Democrat since 2005.

Bass was first elected to public office in 2004 to serve in the California State Assembly. She served in the Assembly from 2005 to 2010 and was speaker from 2008 to 2010. Bass was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and currently represents California’s 37th Congressional District. In a campaign ad, Bass said, “I’m running for mayor to meet today’s challenges: crime, homelessness, and the soaring cost of housing.”

Caruso is the founder and chief executive officer of a retail complex development company. He has also served on Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power Commission, as the president of Los Angeles’ Police Commission, and on the USC Board of Trustees. In a campaign ad, Caruso said, “I’m running for mayor because the city we love is in a state of emergency: rampant homelessness, people living in fear for their safety, and politicians at city hall just in it for themselves.”

Public safety has been a top issue in the race. A Caruso campaign ad said, “As Police Commission president, [Caruso] took on city hall politicians and cut crime 30%. As mayor, Caruso won’t defund the police. He’ll invest in making L.A. safer with 1,500 new officers, increase youth crime prevention, and crack down on illegal guns and retail theft.” 

Bass said she would hire police officers and civilian workers in police departments to add at least 250 officers to patrol, invest in programs to address causes of crime, and establish an Office of Community Safety “to develop a neighborhood-specific strategy to re-envision public safety, and ensure that the needs of individual communities are met.”

Craig Greiwe, Alex Gruenenfelder, John Jackson, Andrew Kim, Gina Viola, Mel Wilson, and Kevin de León are also running in the primary. Joe Buscaino unofficially withdrew from the race on May 12 and endorsed Caruso, Mike Feuer unofficially withdrew on May 17 and endorsed Bass, and Ramit Varma unofficially withdrew on May 23 and endorsed Caruso. Buscaino, Feuer, and Varma will still appear on the primary ballot.

A candidate can win the election outright with more than 50% of the vote in the primary. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two vote-getters will advance to a November 8 general election. Since 1933, every open election for Los Angeles mayor has advanced to a general election. Heading into the election, the last time a candidate won an open election for mayor outright in the primary was in 1929. 

This is the first even-year election for Los Angeles mayor since the 2015 passage of Charter Amendment 1, which shifted city elections to even-numbered years beginning in 2020.



Nine candidates running in Los Angeles’ mayoral primary election

Nine candidates are running in the June 7, 2022, primary for mayor of Los Angeles, California. Incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) could not run for re-election due to term limits.

Karen Bass (D) and Rick Caruso (D) have led the field in media coverage and fundraising. Though the election is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are registered Democrats. Caruso announced he changed his party registration from no party preference to Democrat in January 2022. Bass has held elected office as a Democrat since 2005.

Bass was first elected to public office in 2004 to serve in the California State Assembly. She served in the Assembly from 2005 to 2010 and was speaker from 2008 to 2010. Bass was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and currently represents California’s 37th Congressional District. In a campaign ad, Bass said, “I’m running for mayor to meet today’s challenges: crime, homelessness, and the soaring cost of housing.”

Caruso is the founder and chief executive officer of a retail complex development company. He has also served on Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power Commission, as the president of Los Angeles’ Police Commission, and on the USC Board of Trustees. In a campaign ad, Caruso said, “I’m running for mayor because the city we love is in a state of emergency: rampant homelessness, people living in fear for their safety, and politicians at city hall just in it for themselves.”

Public safety has been a top issue in the race. A Caruso campaign ad said, “As Police Commission president, [Caruso] took on city hall politicians and cut crime 30%. As mayor, Caruso won’t defund the police. He’ll invest in making L.A. safer with 1,500 new officers, increase youth crime prevention, and crack down on illegal guns and retail theft.” 

Bass said she would hire police officers and civilian workers in police departments to add at least 250 officers to patrol, invest in programs to address causes of crime, and establish an Office of Community Safety “to develop a neighborhood-specific strategy to re-envision public safety, and ensure that the needs of individual communities are met.”

Craig Greiwe, Alex Gruenenfelder, John Jackson, Andrew Kim, Gina Viola, Mel Wilson, and Kevin de León are also running in the primary. Joe Buscaino unofficially withdrew from the race on May 12 and endorsed Caruso, Mike Feuer unofficially withdrew on May 17 and endorsed Bass, and Ramit Varma unofficially withdrew on May 23 and endorsed Caruso. Buscaino, Feuer, and Varma will still appear on the primary ballot.

A candidate can win the election outright with more than 50% of the vote in the primary. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two vote-getters will advance to a November 8 general election. Since 1933, every open election for Los Angeles mayor has advanced to a general election. Heading into the election, the last time a candidate won an open election for mayor outright in the primary was in 1929. 

This is the first even-year election for Los Angeles mayor since the 2015 passage of Charter Amendment 1, which shifted city elections to even-numbered years beginning in 2020.



Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu resigns

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu announced on May 23 that he would resign after information about an ongoing federal corruption investigation was made public earlier this month. Sidhu’s resignation was effective May 24.

According to a May 12 affidavit, the purpose of the FBI investigation is to determine whether Sidhu “shared privileged and confidential information with the [Los Angeles Angels] during stadium sale negotiations, actively concealed same from a Grand Jury inquiry, and expects to receive campaign contributions as a result.”

Sidhu’s attorney, Paul Meyer, said Sidhu resigned to “allow [Anaheim] to move forward without distraction.” Meyer said a “fair and thorough investigation will prove [Sidhu] did not leak secret information in hopes of a later political campaign contribution.”

Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O’Neil and members of the Anaheim City Council asked Sidhu to resign on May 18. A timeline of the city’s responses can be viewed here.

The city council has 60 days to fill the vacancy by appointment. Otherwise, the city charter requires a special election to be held. Anaheim is holding a regular general election for mayor on Nov. 8. A news release from the city said, “Given proximity to November’s election, where the mayor’s seat is set to go before voters, an election to fill the seat could be held at the same time.”

Municipal elections in Anaheim are nonpartisan. Sidhu previously ran for state office as a Republican.

Twenty-four of the 100 largest U.S. cities, including Anaheim, are holding mayoral elections in 2022. In the four elections that have taken place so far, no partisan changes have occurred.

The mayors of 62 of the country’s 100 largest cities are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Republicans hold 25 mayoral offices, independents hold four, and seven mayors are nonpartisan. One mayor’s partisan affiliation is unknown, and following Sidhu’s resignation, there is one vacancy.

Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

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Prosecutors, public defender running in primary for Office 67 of the Superior Court of Los Angeles county

Three candidates—Fernanda Maria Barreto, Ryan Dibble, and Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes—are running in the nonpartisan primary for Office 67 of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. The top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election. While the race is officially nonpartisan, meaning candidates will appear on the ballot without party labels, all three candidates have been endorsed by at least one organization affiliated with the Democratic Party.

The Los Angeles Times‘ editorial board wrote, “For many years, the most successful judicial candidates were prosecutors, presumably because voters believed that they would … deal more harshly with criminal defendants,” but added that “[t]his year there are several deputy public defenders running, an interesting development that’s part of the broader movement for criminal justice reform.”

In the primary for Office 67, Barreto and Dibble both have prosecutorial experience, working as deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles County. Lashley-Haynes is a deputy public defender in the county’s public defender office. All three candidates have highlighted their respective backgrounds.

Barreto said she “has worked tirelessly … to protect particularly vulnerable populations by handling complex felony cases including murder, rape, and domestic violence,” adding that she “has taken great pride in helping victims of crimes … while also building a reputation as being a fair prosecutor.”

Dibble highlighted his experience with roles in the Major Narcotics and Hardcore Gang Divisions, saying he “worked on cases to help some of the most vulnerable members of our community for whom violence and its consequences are so devastating.”

Lashley-Haynes said, “LA County courts have been dominated by those whose principal legal experiences have involved prosecuting offenders,” saying that her experience as a public defender “provides the kind of … perspective to begin to make Los Angeles the leader in criminal justice reform.”

All three candidates have received and promoted endorsements from individuals and organizations. The Los Angeles Times, the Burbank Police Officers’ Association, and 21 superior court judges in the county endorsed Barretto. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the Long Beach Police Officers Association, and 38 superior court judges in the county endorsed Dibble. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Union, and four superior court judges in the county endorsed Lashley-Haynes.

Judges on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County conduct all original trials in the county, except in cases where appellate level courts have original jurisdiction. According to the court’s website, “Cases range from simple traffic infractions to murders; landlord/tenant disputes to multi-million dollar lawsuits; guardianships to involuntary commitments.”



Mellen School District votes to prohibit race from being discussed during American history lessons

The Mellon School Board in Wisconsin voted on April 20, 2022, to adopt a new policy to prohibit race from being discussed during American history lessons. This decision follows a vote in March that barred subjects such as critical race theory, religion, sexual orientation, privilege, empathy, and political orientation from being taught in classrooms. 

The school board’s new policy adopted its language following survey responses from parents. Besides barring discussions of race during history lessons, the new policy states that gender and sexual orientation can be discussed using only what is described as fact-based information rather than theory or discussion. Teachers are allowed to address topics such as privilege but cannot discuss race when doing so. Similarly, educators may talk about equity but are prohibited from mentioning race, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

According to the survey conducted by Mellen School District, 72% of responders opposed teaching sexual orientation; 73% opposed teaching gender identity; 66% opposed teaching critical race theory, and 68% opposed teaching white privilege. Conversely, 64% of responders support teaching empathy, 58% supported teaching inclusion, and 56% support teaching anti-racism.

Eight teachers submitted a letter to the board against the new policy. They argue the policy will deprive students of the opportunity to practice the reasoning and communication skills necessary to develop and defend their own opinion regarding these topics, according to the Ashland Daily Press



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • The debate over high school grade inflation and its effect on students 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • A look at Tarrant County school board election results
  • Extracurricular: links from around the web 
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over high school grade inflation and its effect on students 

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues facing school board members. 

Grade inflation refers to an upward trend in average grades students receive for a particular level of work. For example, if a student submitted an assignment and received a “B” one year, and the next year another student submitted the same level of work and received an “A,” grade inflation would have occurred. 

Below, Zachary Bleemer writes that grade inflation could benefit students and encourage them to graduate. Bleemer also says higher grades could give students the confidence to pursue what he considers more difficult subjects like science and math.

Brandon L. White says grade inflation is particularly harmful to students who are most likely to fail a class or drop out of school entirely. White says the lowered expectations harm all students and do not prepare them for careers or college.

Grade inflation is just plain bad. Right? Maybe not. | Zachary Bleemer, The Washington Post

“A series of recent studies by several independent teams of economists, though, have advanced a surprising hypothesis: that in many circumstances, grade inflation may be providing important benefits to many of today’s students. Everyone agrees that kids should learn more in school. Grade inflation may weaken some students’ incentive to study and could frustrate colleges’ ability to identify well-prepared applicants — but higher grades may also bolster some students’ confidence and encourage them into rigorous disciplines where they might succeed. …STEM courses tend to award lower average grades than other fields, and female students are more likely than male students to switch their fields of study if they earn low grades in introductory courses. As a result, inflating grades in STEM courses might increase the share of female students earning STEM degrees, narrowing the worrisome gender gap in those majors. … All of these studies focus on college grades, but the same arguments hold for high schools. Higher grades could mean less discouragement from challenging subjects and maybe even greater confidence and persistence to graduation.”

Rampant grade inflation is harming vulnerable high schoolers | Brandon L. Wright, Thomas Fordham Institute

“Pressure to boost those [graduation] rates, often due to school accountability policies, plays a role [in grade inflation]—but so do complex motivations like empathy and concern for kids’ future well-being. It’s these latter impulses that lead folks to believe that easing expectations, at least for disadvantaged and struggling students, is a victimless, thoughtful, and maybe even noble act. Though it does young people no real good to be awarded unearned diplomas. The harm done by lowered expectations doesn’t just befall the kids who are barely making it through high school. As illustrated by those profiled in the Globe, a disservice is being done to their high-achieving peers—not young people at risk of not graduating at all, but those who leave high school at the top of their class and under the impression that they’re fully ready for college, including elite schools like Bryn Mawr, B.U., and B.C. They discover—with surprise, pain, angst, embarrassment—that they’re nowhere near ready. The culprit is grade inflation, which occurs when subjective course grades exceed objective measures of performance.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

Election results from the past week

The following districts within our scope held elections on May 17:

New York

North Carolina

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days   

Minnesota

  • Five seats on the Minneapolis Public Schools board are up for general election on Nov. 8. A primary is scheduled for Aug. 9. The filing deadline for this election is May 31.

Upcoming school board elections

Districts in Alabama and Georgia are holding primary and general elections on May 24. Districts in California are holding primary elections on June 7.

Alabama

We’re covering the following school board primary elections on May 24. General elections will be held Nov. 8.

Georgia

We’re covering the following school board elections on May 24. General elections will be held Nov. 8. 

California

We’re covering the following school board elections on June 7. 

School board candidates per seat up for election

Since 2018, we’ve tracked the ratio of school board candidates to seats up for election within our coverage scope. We view candidates per seat as a proxy for interest in school board elections, sometimes driven by greater awareness of issues or conflicts around school board governance. Periods with more awareness or conflict tend to correlate with more candidates running for seats on school boards. Click here to see historical data on this subject.  

In 2022, 2.5 candidates are running for each seat in the 508 school board races we are covering in districts where the filing deadline has passed. That represents a 29% increase in candidates per seat compared to 2020. 

A look at Tarrant County school board election results

On May 7, school districts across Texas—including some of the largest in the state—held school board general elections. Districts across the state, especially in Tarrant County, home of Fort Worth, saw conflicts about some of the biggest issues facing school boards today. 

The Texas Tribune’s Jason Beeferman wrote that “All but one of the 11 Tarrant County conservative school board candidates, who were backed this year by several high-profile donors and big-money PACs, defeated their opponents during Saturday’s local elections, according to unofficial results. The one candidate backed by the groups who didn’t win outright advances to a runoff election in June.” The candidates ran for seats in the Keller, Mansfield, Grapevine-Colleyville, and Carroll school districts.

Tarrant is the third-largest county in Texas. In 2020, President Joe Biden (D) received 49.3% of the vote in the county, while Donald Trump (R) received 49.1%. 

School board races in Texas are nonpartisan, though The Dallas Morning News’ Talia Richman writes “they have become extremely politicized in the past year as school boards tackled increasingly divisive — and high-profile — issues, including COVID-19 protocols and how to teach children about history, race, gender and sexuality.”

These nonpartisan races drew attention from the major political parties and satellite groups alike. Last December, The Texas Tribune reported the Texas Republican Party had formed a Local Government Committee, which would work to identify and back candidates in nonpartisan municipal races. The Texas Democratic Party also identifies and backs candidates through its Project LIFT initiative. 

The Dallas Morning News reported that “[a]t least 10 conservative PACs have launched in the past year in cities across the Dallas area with the goal of steering local districts in a more conservative direction.” Funding for PACs came in part from Patriot Mobile, a Grapevine-based cell phone company which the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Abby Church reported “poured $500,000 into a PAC to support candidates in the Carroll, Grapevine-Colleyville, Keller and Mansfield school districts, where the races included debates about critical race theory and what books are on library shelves.” 

Not all candidates backed by conservative organizations and PACs won their elections. According to The Texan, candidates in the Coppell Independent School District and Highland Park Independent School District elections were not successful. 

Below are details on a few of the Tarrant County school districts within our coverage scope. 

Keller Independent School District

Three at-large seats on the Keller Independent School District school board were up for election. 

Micah Young defeated incumbent Craig Allen 63.4% to 36.6% in election for Place 1. In the Place 2 general election, Joni Shaw Smith defeated Julie Nors and incumbent Karina Davis with 56.1% of the vote. In the Place 3 general election, Sandi Walker defeated James Duncan 69.2% to 30.8%. 

This year, around 13,000 people voted in the election. In both 2020 and 2018, elections for the two seats on the ballot were canceled due to a lack of opposition.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, all “the candidates backed by the conservative KISD Family Alliance and True Texas Project won seats.” The Texan reports that Young, Smith, and Walker were also backed by the 1776 Project PAC, which says it is fighting back against the teaching of Critical Race Theory. 

Mansfield Independent School District 

Four seats on the Mansfield Independent School District school board were up for election.

In the Place 3 general election, Craig Tipping and Benita Reed advanced to a June 18 runoff election. Tipping earned 49.2% of the vote to Reed’s 42.9%. Shawn Thompson earned 7.9%. In the Place 4 election, incumbent Keziah Valdes Farrar defeated Amanda Jackson Sneed 56.2% to 43.8%. In the Place 5 election, Bianca Benavides Anderson defeated Jo Anna Cardoza and Le Keishia Dawkins. Anderson won 51.5% of the vote to Cardoza’s 32.6% and Le Keishia Dawkins’s 15.9%. In the Place 7 election, Courtney Lackey Wilson defeated Yolanda McPherson 57.6% to 42.4%.

This year, around 10,300 people voted in the Mansfield Independent School District elections. In 2020, two seats—Place 6 and Place 7—were on the ballot. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the election date was moved from May to Nov. 3. The Place 6 race was uncontested. In the Place 7 race, 51,775 people voted in the general election, and 9,391 people voted in the Dec. 8 runoff. In 2018, three seats were on the ballot, and 10,454 people voted across all three races.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Patriot Mobile endorsed the candidates who won their elections. Patriot Mobile also endorsed Tipping, who will compete against Reed in a runoff election on June 18. The 1776 Project PAC also endorsed the highest vote-getters in all four races, including Tipping. 

Tracking school board conflicts

Since 2021, we’ve tracked conflicts in school board elections around the following topics: race in education/critical race theory, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and sex and gender in schools in school. To date, we’ve identified 695 school districts in 40 states where candidates took a stance on one of these issues. In the May 7 Texas elections alone, we identified 28 districts where one or more candidates took a stance on at least one of these topics. 

You can read more about our research tracking conflicts in school board elections here

Not all districts in Texas held an election on May 7. On Nov. 8, 27 districts within our scope will hold general elections.  

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey. 

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey.

The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!



Incumbent Merriweather defeats Emry in Mecklenburg County district attorney race

Incumbent Spencer Merriweather defeated Tim Emry in the May 17 Democratic primary for district attorney of North Carolina’s 26th Prosecutorial District in Mecklenburg County. Merriweather received 71% of the vote to Emry’s 29%.

No Republicans ran for the office.

Merriweather said that under his leadership, the district attorney’s office had “focused on the most serious and violent offenses” and that he had “implemented new strategies to confront violent crime … creating special units that prioritize the prosecution of gun crimes, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.” The Charlotte Observer’s Michael Gordon wrote, “Asked what distinguishes him from Emry, Merriweather describes himself as a proven reformer who remains committed to the law, a safer community and building on what he describes as ‘a career of experience serving victims.'”

The Charlotte Post, which endorsed Merriweather, described him as a “thoughtful pragmatist who has balanced policy reforms and alternatives to prosecution with efforts to keep a growing urban community safe.” The Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg also endorsed Merriweather.

Emry, a criminal defense attorney and former Mecklenburg County assistant public defender, said, “The number one pillar of our campaign is holding the police accountable when they break the law.” Emry said another priority would be to “immediately stop the mass incarceration policies of the current DA’s office and begin to pursue racial justice.” He also said he would “never seek the death penalty,” saying, “Too often in this country, we have sentenced the wrong people to death. … Well, my opponent supports the death penalty.”

Real Justice PAC, which says it “has been at the forefront of local elections, ushering in prosecutors who have promised to transform a criminal legal system that is racist, oppressive, and preys on the poor and marginalized,” endorsed Emry. The group’s endorsement said Emry ran “as a progressive challenge to the left of the incumbent” and that he ran to “bring genuine change to the criminal justice system in Mecklenburg and to end the failed status quo policies.”



Four candidates are running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Arkansas

Four candidates — Jake Bequette, Heath Loftis, Jan Morgan, and incumbent John Boozman — are running in the Republican primary on May 24, 2022, for U.S. Senate in Arkansas. Boozman, Bequette, and Morgan have led in polling and fundraising.

In Arkansas, a primary candidate must win more than 50% of the votes cast in order to win the election. If no candidate meets that threshold, a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters on June 21.

Roby Brock, editor-in-chief of Talk Business & Politics, an Arkansas news website, said, “The key question in the U.S. Senate GOP primary is whether two-term U.S. Senator John Boozman can avoid a runoff election with a decidedly more conservative opponent. While our survey shows Boozman coming up just short of the magic 50% to avoid a costly and time-consuming contest, a chunk of probable GOP primary voters remain undecided.”

Boozman, a former optometrist, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Boozman has the endorsements of former President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and former White House Press Secretary and 2022 Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R). Boozman has highlighted Trump’s endorsement and has focused on his legislative record, saying, “[President Trump and I] rebuilt our military, stood up for our veterans, helped our farmers through challenging and unprecedented times, confirmed three conservative Justices to the Supreme Court and completely reshaped the judiciary.”

Bequette is a U.S. Army veteran and a former football player from Little Rock. Bequette cited immigration and law enforcement as top issues and has highlighted his military service and time as a player for the Arkansas Razorbacks and the New England Patriots. Bequette described himself as a political outsider, saying, “I’m no squish career politician. I’m a former all-SEC Razorback and an army veteran who left the NFL and volunteered for the 101st Airborne in Iraq.” Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R) and Burgess Owens (R) have endorsed Bequette.

Morgan is a former journalist and gubernatorial candidate who owns a firearms training facility in Hot Springs. Morgan has focused on immigration and election administration and has said she supports term limits. Morgan described herself as a conservative fighter, saying, “America needs aggressive fighters in D.C. who will get in the ring and boldly take on our enemies rather than stand on the sidelines.” Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has endorsed Morgan.

Bequette and Morgan have called Boozman a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and have criticized him for not challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. Bequette has also criticized Boozman for not committing to a debate. Boozman’s campaign has responded by highlighting Trump’s endorsement and Boozman’s record. In one of Boozman’s campaign ads, the narrator says, “[Boozman] is a workhorse, not a show pony.” It continues, “Others have words; Boozman does the work.”

As of May 2022, groups not directly affiliated with any of the candidates had spent a total of $2,787,346 in the race, the second-largest amount of satellite spending for a primary where a GOP incumbent is running for re-election, according to data from Open Secrets. The Arkansas Patriots Fund has spent $1,471,182 in support of Bequette, the most of any group. The group received a $1M donation from businessman Richard Uihlein last year, according to data from the FEC. Several different groups have spent a combined total of $1,163,214 in support of Boozman.

As of May 2022, three independent election forecasters considered the general election as Solid Republican.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues:  The debate over American principles and laws governing instruction on race in school
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • A brief primer on charter schools in America
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

The debate over American principles and laws governing instruction on race in schools 

Ballotpedia is tracking race-related laws in school curricula and classrooms. Governors in states like Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia have signed legislation or issued executive orders limiting how such topics can be taught in public schools. 

Below, Kmele Foster, David French, Jason Stanley, and Thomas Chatterton Williams write that such laws make it difficult for teachers to accurately educate students on American history, the end result of which is to create an ignorant populace. The authors also say such laws undermine due process and the free expression of ideas.

Joy Pullmann writes that teachings related to systemic racism, equity (which she contrasts with equality), and white privilege stem from critical race theory. Pullmann says such teachings are anti-American and that critical race theory is incompatible with free speech, freedom of association, and equal justice. Pullman says taxpayers should not have to support anti-American teachings in classrooms.

We Disagree on a Lot of Things. Except the Danger of Anti-Critical-Race-Theory Laws. | Kmele Foster, David French, Jason Stanley, and Thomas Chatterton Williams, The New York Times

“Indeed, the very act of learning history in a free and multiethnic society is inescapably fraught. Any accurate teaching of any country’s history could make some of its citizens feel uncomfortable (or even guilty) about the past. To deny this necessary consequence of education is, to quote W.E.B. Du Bois, to transform ‘history into propaganda.’ What’s more, these laws even make it difficult to teach U.S. history in a way that would reveal well-documented ways in which past policy decisions, like redlining, have contributed to present-day racial wealth gaps. An education of this sort would be negligent, creating ignorant citizens who are unable to understand, for instance, the case for reparations — or the case against them. Because these laws often aim to protect the feelings of hypothetical children, they are dangerously imprecise. State governments exercise a high degree of lawful control over K-12 curriculum. But broad, vague laws violate due process and fundamental fairness because they don’t give the teachers fair warning of what’s prohibited. … Let’s not mince words about these laws. They are speech codes. They seek to change public education by banning the expression of ideas. Even if this censorship is legal in the narrow context of public primary and secondary education, it is antithetical to educating students in the culture of American free expression.”

It’s Critical Race Theory That Is Un-American, Not Laws Banning It | Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

“Without breaking a sweat, the New York Times has gone from insisting critical race theory doesn’t exist to arguing state legislatures must let public schools inflict it on kids. Kmele Foster, David French, Jason Stanley, and Thomas Chatterton Williams claim in the Times that ‘Anti-Critical Race Theory Laws Are Un-American.’ This is exactly backwards. It’s teaching critical race theory that is un-American. … Critical theorists oppose free speech, the consent of the governed, freedom of association, and equal justice under the law. This is not about banning them from speaking, but in using representative government to deny them the privilege of taxpayer sinecures to help them foment America’s subversion and collapse. CRT teaches not only that people are defined by their skin color but also that paler skin is inherently evil. So this theory is used to justify the insistence that the United States is inherently evil, which is also patently anti-American. The concepts of ‘systemic racism,’ ‘white privilege,’ ‘anti-racism,’ and ‘equity [as opposed to equality]’ all stem from critical theory. Since this ideology is obviously false and toxic, state legislatures have moved to protect children from being taught it as gospel in the public education systems they directly oversee.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

Election results from the past week

Districts in Texas held general elections for school boards on May 7. Click here to see election results for all 47 districts within our coverage scope. Next issue, we’ll bring you a roundup of commentary and analysis about what the results mean for Texas public schools. 

Districts in Nebraska held primary elections on May 10. Select a district below to read about those election results:

A primary for four seats on the Nebraska State Board of Education was also held May 10. Elizabeth Tegtmeier and incumbent Robin Stevens advanced to the general election. Based on unofficial returns, Tegtmeier received 62.4% of the vote, Stevens received 20.4%, and Pat Moore received 17.2%. Click here to see results. 

Upcoming school board elections

Districts in North Carolina are holding primary and general elections on May 17. Districts in Georgia are holding primary and general elections on May 24.

North Carolina

We’re covering the following school board elections on May 17.

Georgia

We’re covering the following school board elections in Georgia on May 24. 

School board candidates per seat up for election

Since 2018, we’ve tracked the ratio of school board candidates to seats up for election within our coverage scope. We view candidates per seat as a proxy for the level of conflict and dissension around school board governance. Periods with more conflict tend to correlate with more candidates running for seats on school boards. Click here to see historical data on this subject.  

In 2022, 2.51 candidates are running for each seat in the 353 school board races we are covering in districts where the filing deadline has passed.

Charter schools in America: some basics

Minnesota was the first state to pass a law authorizing charter schools in 1991. Charter schools are a category of tuition-free, publicly-funded, independently run schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a charter school is “a publicly funded school that is typically governed by a group or organization under a legislative contract—a charter—with the state, district, or other entity. The charter exempts the school from certain state or local rules and regulations. In return for flexibility and autonomy, the charter school must meet the accountability standards outlined in its charter.”

Charter schools generally receive a percentage of the per-pupil funds from the state and local school districts for operational costs based on enrollment. In most states, charter schools do not receive funds for facilities or start-up costs, and usually rely to some extent on private donations. The federal government also provides special grants for charter schools.

Since the 1990s, charter schools have expanded to 45 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Education Commission of the States, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a partner to state policymakers by providing personalized support and helping education leaders come together to learn from one another.” 

Only Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont do not have laws authorizing charter schools. West Virginia became the 45th state to authorize charter schools in 2019, when Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed House Bill 206. The state’s first charter schools were approved in November 2021. 

Kentucky authorizes charter schools but does not currently have any in operation. Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed House Bill 520 in 2017, authorizing charter schools. However, a permanent funding mechanism was never established. In late March 2022, the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 9, which would have authorized federal, state, and local funding for charter schools. However, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) vetoed the bill on April 7, saying he believed the funding mechanism was unconstitutional and that he did not support charter schools.

The number of charter schools per state varies widely, according to data from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which describes itself as the “the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement.” In 2019, California had the most charter schools in the country, with 1,336, followed by Texas and Florida. Twenty-four states had fewer than 100 charter schools. 

Charter school enrollment has grown steadily over time. In 2000, the NCES estimated that 448,343 students were enrolled in charter schools. By the 2019-2020 school year, the most recent year for which data are available, that number had climbed to nearly three and a half million students. The percentage of public school students enrolled in charter schools is around 7%

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

So far in 2022, 1,606 candidates have completed our Candidate Connection survey. In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey. 

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey.

The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!



Oregon fire district board member recalled with 51.1% of the vote

In Washington County, Oregon, Banks Fire District #13 board members Mark Schmidlin and Ed Ewing faced a recall election on April 12, 2022. Schmidlin was recalled with 51.1% of votes cast in favor of the recall. Ewing retained his seat with 52.4% of votes cast against the recall. Schmidlin’s seat will be filled via a vote by the remaining board members. 

The recall effort was led by Jacoba Kemper. The recall petition stated that the two board members failed to properly investigate harassment accusations against Chief Rodney Linz. Recall supporters gathered 513 signatures in support of recalling Ewing and 537 signatures in support of recalling Schmidlin. The threshold to send the recall to a vote was 449 signatures.

There have been four recall efforts against six special district board members in 2022. Of those, one recall was approved, one was defeated, three did not go to a vote, and one is underway. 

Between January and June of 2021, 10 special district members were targets of recall efforts. 

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