School mask requirement ban suspended in Arizona, enacted in Tennessee

As schools have begun reopening for the 2021-2022 academic year, several states have enacted policies regarding mask requirements in schools. As of Aug. 17, seven states banned school mask requirements, thirty states left school mask decisions up to local authorities, and thirteen states required masks in schools.

Recent actions were taken in Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas regarding school mask mandates. In Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled on Aug. 16 that Arizona’s law banning school mask requirements could not take effect until Sept. 29. Warner said, “Under Arizona law, new laws are effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is Sept. 29 this year.” The legislature passed a ban on school mask requirements in the 2021 regular legislative session.

On Aug. 16, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order allowing parents to send their children to school without masks in K-12 public schools that enacted mask requirements. With written notification to school authorities from a parent or guardian, a student would not be required to wear masks at school, on school buses, or at school functions.

The Texas Supreme Court temporarily overturned lower court orders in Bexar and Dallas Counties on Aug. 15 that would have allowed those local governments to disregard Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) May 18 executive order prohibiting governments from requiring masks.

Seattle local primary results certified

King County Elections in Washington certified results of the Aug. 3 primary elections Tuesday. Former City Council President Bruce Harrell and current City Council President Lorena González advanced in the mayoral primary with 34.0% and 32.1% of the vote, respectively. Fifteen candidates ran in the primary. Current Mayor Jenny Durkan didn’t seek re-election.

González had endorsements from four current council members and two former members, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and The Stranger. Harrell was endorsed by two former Seattle mayors and four former councilmembers, as well as Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.) and The Seattle Times.On Aug. 16, two current council members who did not endorse in the primary endorsed Harrell.

For the position 9 council seat, which González currently holds, Creative Justice executive director Nikkita Oliver and Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson advanced with 40.2% and 39.5% of the vote, respectively.

Two council members, one former member, and The Stranger endorsed Oliver. The Seattle Times and five former council members endorsed Nelson. Four current council members endorsed Brianna Thomas, González’s chief of staff. Thomas came in third with 13.4%.

Incumbent Teresa Mosqueda is running for re-election to the position 8 seat. She advanced from the primary with 59.4% of the vote and faces Kenneth Wilson in the general election. Wilson received 16.2% of the vote.

In the city attorney election, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Ann Davison advanced after incumbent Pete Holmes conceded on August 6, 2021. Thomas-Kennedy received 36.4% of the vote followed by Davison with 32.7% and Holmes with 30.6%

The general election is on Nov. 2.

Seattle holds mayoral and city attorney elections every four years. Elections for its two at-large city council seats are held in the same years as mayoral elections. The other seven city council seats are elected by district every four years, with the last elections held in 2019.

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Recall election for Montana sewer district to be held Aug. 24

A recall election seeking to remove two of the five board members for the Sanders County Sewer District in Montana is being held on Aug. 24. Board President Sunny Chase and board member Rick McCollum are on the ballot.

The recall effort was started by a group of residents who opposed putting a sewer system in Paradise, Montana. The board voted in favor of the sewer project in May 2020. The town received a $3.5 million grant to help cover the cost of the project and took out a loan of $770,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development to cover the rest of the cost. 

In reaction to the recall effort, Chase said the board had gone through the process of putting in a sewer system in good faith. She said she saw it as a necessity for the town.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to submit signatures equal to 15% of registered voters in the town of Paradise. The petitions were submitted with 43 signatures, which was over the threshold. The Sanders County Clerk and Recorder’s Office verified the signatures, allowing the recall election to be scheduled.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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17 candidates file for Minneapolis mayoral election

The filing deadline passed to run for elected office in Minneapolis, Minnesota, passed on Aug. 10. Candidates filed for the following offices:

  1. Mayor 
  2. City Council (Wards 1-13)
  3. Board of Estimate and Taxation
  4. Park and Recreation Commissioner At Large (3 seats)
  5. Park and Recreation Commissioner (Districts 1-6)

Seventeen candidates filed for the mayoral election, including incumbent Jacob Frey (D). Frey was first elected mayor in 2017. He served on the city council before becoming mayor. He was first elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2013. 

Ward 9 and Ward 10 are the only seats on the city council with no incumbents running. 

There will be no primary held. Minneapolis will utilize a ranked-choice voting system for the general election that is scheduled for Nov. 2. 

Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota and the 46th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

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Six school board recall efforts have petition filing deadlines this month

Six school board recall efforts must submit their petition signatures in August 2021 to move their efforts forward. The efforts are seeking to recall school board members in Arizona, California, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The effort in Arizona is against two of the five members of the Vail Unified School District Governing Board. The recall effort started after parents and community members held protests over the school district’s requirement to wear masks. To get the recalls on the ballot, recall supporters must collect 4,364 signatures per board member.

Two efforts started against school board members in California, two in the Benicia Unified School District and three in the West Sonoma County Union High School District. In Benicia Unified, recall supporters said the board members’ actions had negative consequences on students and that they failed to represent their constituents. In West Sonoma County, recall supporters said they did not agree with the board’s 3-2 vote to consolidate two high schools. The Benicia effort requires 3,915 signatures per board member, and the West Sonoma effort requires approximately 7,200 signatures per board member.

In North Dakota, recall supporters filed paperwork against four of the nine school board members. They cited school boundary line changes, mask mandates, treatment of teachers, hybrid schooling, use of federal funds, lack of communication, and the belief that some school board members want to incorporate critical race theory into the curriculum as reasons for the recall effort. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters must collect 4,144 signatures per board member.

In Wisconsin, two recall efforts are circulating petitions against school board members. In the Mequon-Thiensville School District, four of the seven members were included in a recall effort. Recall supporters said they started the recall due to concerns about the school district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, critical race theory, a decline in academic performance metrics, and an inability to get answers from board members. In the Waupaca School District, one of the seven board members was included in a recall effort. The board member’s behavior at a board meeting was listed as the reason for recall. The Mequon-Thiensville effort requires approximately 4,200 signatures per board member, and the Waupaca effort requires 1,701 signatures.

Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 58 efforts against 144 members as of Aug. 12. This is the highest number of school board recalls Ballotpedia has tracked in one year since our tracking began in 2010. The next-highest was in 2010 with 39 efforts against 91 school board members.

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Eight of nine Birmingham City Schools seats on the ballot Aug. 24

The general election for Birmingham City Schools in Alabama is on Aug. 24. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general runoff election scheduled for Oct. 5. The filing deadline to run passed on July 10.

Candidates filed for all nine seats on the Birmingham Board of Education. The District 7 race was canceled, and incumbent Walter Wilson was declared re-elected without appearing on the ballot. Wilson won election to the seat in a special election earlier this year. All eight remaining districts will appear on the ballot.

Three incumbents did not file for re-election, meaning one-third of the school board seats are guaranteed to go to newcomers. Four seats will not go to a runoff election because two candidates filed, meaning one candidate will receive a majority of the vote in the general election. Of the remaining four seats, three have three candidates competing, and one has four candidates on the ballot.

By comparison, five incumbents did not seek re-election when the board was last up for election in 2017. After one incumbent was defeated, six seats, or two-thirds of the board, went to newcomers. Five races were decided in runoff elections.

Birmingham City Schools served 23,777 students during the 2017-2018 school year.

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Birmingham City Schools, Alabama

Birmingham City Schools elections (2017)

Three candidates file for Toledo City Council special election

Three candidates have filed to run in the Sep. 14 special election for District 6 on the Toledo City Council in Ohio. The filing deadline for the special election was Aug. 5.

Incumbent Theresa Morris, Kimberly Adkins, and James Nowak are running in the special election. Morris was appointed to the seat on April 20 to replace Chris Delaney. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Delaney’s term, which runs through 2023. The special election is nonpartisan, but Morris has been endorsed by the Lucas County Democratic Party. According to the Toledo Blade, Adkins and Nowak are Republicans.

Ballotpedia will also be covering the Toledo mayoral race and the six at-large city council seats that are on the ballot in 2021. The primary for those races will be held on Sep. 14, and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

Toledo is the fourth-largest city in Ohio and the 66th-largest city in the U.S. by population. It had an estimated population of 272,779 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 21 counties and 68 cities, including 40 mayoral elections.

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Toledo, Ohio

Mayoral election in Toledo, Ohio (2021)

United States municipal elections, 2021

Port Angeles, Forks city council candidates advance to the general election

Ten city council candidates running for five seats in the cities of Port Angeles and Forks, in Clallam County, Wa., advanced to the Nov. 2 general election. The primary was Aug. 3.

Clallam County, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Since 1920, voters in the county backed the winning presidential candidate in every election except 1968 and 1976.

Washington uses a top-two primary system, in which all candidates are listed on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. In total, 15 city council candidates appeared on the primary ballot. In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district.

Eleven city council seats are up for election in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks in 2021. Five city council seats appeared on primary ballots, while the other six will appear on general election ballots.

Vote totals below are current as of Aug. 12. The Clallam County Auditor’s office plans to conduct the next ballot count on Aug. 17.

In Port Angeles, the county seat, four of the seven city council positions are up for election in 2021, and all four appeared on the primary ballot.

Incumbent LaTrisha Suggs, who holds the Council Position No. 1 seat, and Adam Garcia advanced to the general election. Suggs won 47.02% of the vote, while Garcia won 41.07%. In the race for Council Position No. 2, incumbent Mike French and John Madden advanced to the general, with French winning 56.94% of the vote to Madden’s 35.67%. Council Position No. 3 Incumbent Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin advanced to the general after winning 41.48% of the vote, alongside Jena Stamper who won 37.25%. In the race for Council Position No. 4, Mayor Kate Dexter won 53.45% of the vote to John W. Procter’s 41.02%.

Port Angeles council members are elected to four-year terms. The council elects a mayor and deputy mayor from among the seven members.

In Forks, two of the five city council seats are up for election in 2021, and one of them appeared on the primary ballot.

Josef Echeita and Clinton W. Wood advanced to the general election in the City Council Position No. 2 race. Wood won 58.81% of the vote to Echeita’s 30.94%.

Forks city council members are elected for four-year terms. Voters also elect the mayor. The mayor’s office will appear on the general election ballot.  

In Sequim, five of the seven city council seats are up for election, but because only two candidates filed to run in each race, all five skipped the primary and will appear in the general election.

Filing deadline approaches to run for school board in Texas

The filing deadline to run for school board in seven Texas school districts is on Aug. 16. Prospective candidates may file to run in the following districts:

  1. Aldine Independent School District (3 seats)
  2. Alief Independent School District (3 seats)
  3. Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (3 seats)
  4. Houston Independent School District (5 seats)
  5. Klein Independent School District (2 seats)
  6. Lake Worth Independent School District (2 seats)
  7. Spring Independent School District (2 seats)

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2. 

These seven districts served a total of 530,658 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Incumbent Pete Holmes concedes Seattle city attorney election

Pete Holmes, the incumbent Seattle city attorney, conceded to challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on August 6, 2021, in the top-two primary election held August 3. As of August 10, the latest election results showed Thomas-Kennedy with 35.5% of the vote followed by Davison with 33% and Holmes with 31.2%. Davison and Thomas-Kennedy will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021.

Davison is an attorney and arbitrator and attended Willamette University College of Law and Baylor University. She ran for lieutenant governor as a Republican in 2020. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and that she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Former Gov. Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison.

Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney and attended Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, and Seattle University School of Law. She described her policy priorities as decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her campaign website said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.” The Seattle newspaper The Stranger endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against challenger Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote to Lindsay’s 25% and ran unopposed in the 2013 general election. Although he led in fundraising leading up to the primary election, The Cascadia Advocate‘s Andrew Villeneuve said that Davison and Thomas-Kennedy were “right behind Holmes as voting begins in the August 2021 Top Two election, with 53% of likely voters not sure who they’re voting for.” In a poll conducted by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute from July 12 through July 15, 2021, 16% of respondents chose Holmes, 14% chose Davison, and 14% chose Thomas-Kennedy. David Kroman of Crosscut called Holmes’ concession “a tectonic political upset that sets the stage for a stark and divisive race to succeed him as the city’s top lawyer.”

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.

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