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Spring elections held in Wisconsin

The statewide nonpartisan general election for Wisconsin was held on April 6. The primary was held on February 16, and the filing deadline to run passed on January 5. Candidates ran in elections for special elections in the Wisconsin State Legislature, three judgeships on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, and in municipal and school board elections.

Wisconsin State Legislature

• State Senate District 13: John Jagler (R) defeated four candidates to win the special election, winning 51.2% of the total (37,385) reported votes. The seat became vacant after incumbent officeholder Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House to represent Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District on Nov. 3. Fitzgerald vacated his seat on Jan. 1.

• State Assembly District 89: Elijah Behnke (R) defeated challenger Karl Jaeger (D) to win the special election. Behnke received 60.3% of the total (8,413) votes, while Jaeger received 39.7% of the votes. The seat became vacant on Dec. 2, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector.

Wisconsin Court of Appeals

• In District 1, Judge Maxine A. White won re-election unopposed.

• In District 2, Judge Jeffrey Davis was defeated by challenger Shelley Grogan.

• In District 3, newcomer Greg Gill Jr. defeated Rick Cveykus.

Ballotpedia also covered local elections in the following areas:

• Dane County and Milwaukee County

• The cities of Madison and Milwaukee

• DeForest Area School District

• Madison Metropolitan School District

• McFarland School District

• Middleton-Cross Plains School District

• Milwaukee Public Schools

• Sun Prairie Area School District

• Verona Area School District

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Recall against San Francisco school board members approved to circulate petitions

The San Francisco Department of Elections approved petition circulation to begin this week in the effort to recall part of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education. Three members—Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga—were named in the recall paperwork. Recall supporters have until September 7 to collect 51,325 signatures.

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also criticized the board for spending time voting to rename 44 district buildings. On February 21, López announced that the board was putting the building renaming on hold in order to focus on re-opening schools.

All three board members named in the recall petitions were first elected to the board on November 6, 2018. They received the most votes in the at-large election and defeated 16 other candidates. The other four members of the board were not eligible for recall at the same time as López, Collins, and Moliga since they had not served in their current terms for six months yet. They were either elected or re-elected to the board on November 3, 2020.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 227 recall efforts against 276 elected officials. Of the 50 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 30 were recalled for a rate of 60%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Oklahoma school board elections see lowest unopposed rate in eight-year cycle

In 2021, 48.6% of Oklahoma school board races covered by Ballotpedia will not be on the ballot due to lack of opposition, which is the lowest unopposed rate since Ballotpedia began tracking this figure in 2014. Thirty-five seats are up for election across 26 school districts included in Ballotpedia’s comprehensive coverage in 2021. Candidates ran unopposed in 17 of those races.

Across eight years of tracking, the highest unopposed rate for Oklahoma school board elections occurred in 2015, when 85.7% of races had an unopposed candidate. Below is a list of unopposed rates from 2014 to 2021.

  • 2021: 48.6%
  • 2020: 62.1%
  • 2019: 53.3%
  • 2018: 76.7%
  • 2017: 52.9%
  • 2016: 80.0%
  • 2015: 85.7%
  • 2014: 62.5%

The general election for races that do have opposition is scheduled for April 6. For races that had more than two candidates file, the primary election was held on Feb. 9. Candidates were able to win the election outright if they earned more than 50% of the vote in the primary.

The following districts will hold a general election on April 6:

  • Banner School District
  • Crooked Oak Public Schools
  • Deer Creek Public Schools
  • Edmond Public Schools
  • Midwest City-Del City Schools
  • Mustang Public Schools
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools
  • Owasso Public Schools
  • Piedmont Public Schools
  • Putnam City Schools
  • Tulsa Public Schools
  • Union Public Schools
  • Western Heights Public Schools
  • Yukon Public Schools

These fourteen school districts served a total of 190,878 students during the 2016-17 school year.

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All 5 Idaho school board members retain seats in March 9 recalls

Recall elections in three Idaho school districts—Pocatello-Chubbuck, Idaho Falls, and Nampa—were held on March 9, 2021. A majority of voters in all three school districts voted against the recalls, defeating the efforts and allowing the board members to retain their seats.

Three school board members—Zone 1 representative Jackie Cranor, Zone 2 representative Janie Gebhardt, and Zone 5 representative Dave Mattson—were on the ballot in Pocatello-Chubbuck School District No. 25. The recall effort began in September 2020 after the board unanimously voted to continue using a hybrid teaching model for middle school and high school students for the remainder of the first trimester of the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall supporters said the board was not fully representing the electorate on the issue of hybrid learning and other issues. The school district released a statement saying that the board weighs a number of factors when making decisions and that majority opinion does not always rule.

In Idaho Falls School District 91, Zone 4 representative Elizabeth Cogliati was on the ballot. The recall effort began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mix of in-person and online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cogliati voted in favor of the change in instruction along with two other board members who were also targeted for recall. The other recall efforts did not make the March 9 ballot. Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.

In the Nampa School District, Zone 2 representative Mike Kipp was on the ballot. The recall effort started after Kipp cast the sole dissenting vote against allowing sports to resume during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall supporters said that they were not being represented on the board and that their voices had not been heard at board meetings on multiple occasions. In response to the recall effort, Kipp said, “I have done my best to listen well to all input from teachers, students, patrons, our superintendent, other district leaders and all relevant experts. I then seek to utilize that information in determining my vote.”

In order for the recall elections to be successful, two things would have had to happen: 1) a majority of voters would have had to vote in favor of the recall; and 2) the total number of votes cast in favor of recall would have had to be equal or greater than the number of votes that first put the board member in office.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 224 recall efforts against 269 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Recall elections to be held in 3 Idaho school districts

Recall elections in three Idaho school districts—Pocatello-Chubbuck, Idaho Falls, and Nampa—are scheduled for March 9, 2021. Five board members are facing recall across the three districts.

  1. Three school board members—Zone 1 representative Jackie Cranor, Zone 2 representative Janie Gebhardt, and Zone 5 representative Dave Mattson—will be on the ballot in the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District. The recall effort began in September 2020 after the board unanimously voted to continue using a hybrid teaching model for middle school and high school students for the remainder of the first trimester of the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall supporters said the board was not fully representing the electorate on the issue of hybrid learning and other topics. The school district released a statement saying that the board weighs a number of factors when making decisions and that majority opinion does not always rule.
  2. In the Idaho Falls School District, Zone 4 representative Elizabeth Cogliati is on the ballot. The recall effort began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mix of in-person and online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cogliati voted in favor of the change in instruction along with two other board members who were also targeted for recall. Those other recall efforts did not make the March 9 ballot. Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.
  3. In the Nampa School District, Zone 2 representative Mike Kipp is on the ballot. The recall effort started after Kipp cast the sole dissenting vote against allowing sports to resume during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall supporters said that they were not being represented on the board and that their voices had not been heard at board meetings on multiple occasions. In response to the recall effort, Kipp said, “I have done my best to listen well to all input from teachers, students, patrons, our superintendent, other district leaders and all relevant experts. I then seek to utilize that information in determining my vote.”

In order for the recall elections to be successful, two things must happen: 1) a majority of voters must vote in favor of the recall; and 2) the total number of votes cast in favor of recall must be equal or greater than the number of votes that first put the board member in office.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 224 recall efforts against 269 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Judge rules Idaho school board recall qualifies for ballot

A district court judge ruled on February 22, 2021, that a recall effort against Idaho Falls School District 91 board of trustees member Lara Hill had successfully qualified for the ballot. A recall election against board member Elizabeth Cogliati is already scheduled for March 9.

The recall effort against Cogliati and Hill began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mixture of in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction the other three days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cogliati and Hill voted in favor of the change in instruction along with trustee Hillary Radcliffe, while trustees Paul Haacke and Larry Haws voted against it.

Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. The school district had reported 90 coronavirus cases among students and staff between the beginning of the school year and October 9, 2020. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.

The recall effort initially sought to recall all three board members who voted in favor of changing to hybrid instruction. The effort against Radcliffe did not collect enough signatures and did not submit the petition by the deadline.

Signatures for the recall of Hill and Cogliati were both submitted on December 28, 2020. The Bonneville County Clerk’s Office verified enough signatures to put the recall against Cogliati on the ballot but found that the petition against Hill did not have enough valid signatures. Recall supporters filed a lawsuit against the county clerk, alleging that nine signatures that had been rejected should have been verified. The court ruled in favor of the recall supporters.

Hill’s recall election had not been scheduled as of February 24. After March 9, the next county election dates scheduled are May 18 and August 31.

Recall efforts against school board members started in three other school districts in Idaho in 2020. All of the efforts named their school board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for recall. The effort in the West Ada school district did not go to a vote but saw two members resign from their positions. The recall effort against Aaron Proctor in the Whitepine School District went to the ballot on November 3 and was approved with 57% of the vote, resulting in Proctor’s removal from office. The recall effort against three board members in the Pocatello-Chubbuck school district was approved for the ballot, and the elections were scheduled for March 9.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Voters recall Colorado school board member

A recall election seeking to remove Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado was approved by voters on Feb. 16, 2021. Cody Wells was elected to replace McDaniel on the board.

The recall effort started in July 2020. Recall supporters said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding several of his social media posts. The petition stated, “We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children.”

McDaniel said he was not concerned about the recall effort. “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. McDaniel said he stood by his social media posts. “The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said. McDaniel was one of seven members on the board of education. He was appointed to his position in 2018.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters of the effort had to submit 1,126 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 40% of the citizens in the school district who voted in the last school board election. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell determined enough signatures were valid. Before a recall election could be scheduled, four challenges were submitted against the petition, saying the petition was “baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” A hearing on the challenges was held on Nov. 19, and the challenges were denied on Nov. 23. Hearing Officer Mike Green said that the recall petition met the statutory requirements. The filing deadline for successor candidates was Jan. 8.

Three other school board recall elections have been scheduled so far this year. All three are in Idaho and are being held on March 9.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Oklahoma voters decide school board primary elections

Primaries for school board elections were held in Oklahoma on February 9. Ballotpedia is covering elections for 35 seats across 27 Oklahoma school boards in 2021. These 27 school districts served a combined total of 261,543 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Seventeen seats were won outright by unopposed candidates. There were 13 seats where two candidates automatically advanced from the primary to the general election on April 6. The remaining five seats held primaries between three or more candidates. Elections can be won outright in the primary if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

  • In the Edmond Public School District, Margaret Best and incumbent Lee Ann Kuhlman advanced to the general election for the District 1 seat. Best and Kuhlman earned 34% and 27% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Oklahoma City Public School District, Charles Henry and incumbent Paula Lewis advanced to the general election for the chairperson seat. Henry and Lewis earned 48% and 44% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Owasso Public School District, Stephanie Ruttman and Rick Lang advanced to the general election for the Ward 1 seat. Ruttman and Lang earned 31% and 24% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Putnam City Public School District, Judy Mullen Hopper won outright in the primary for Seat 3. Hopper earned 66% of the vote against two other candidates including incumbent Sky Collins.
  • In the Tulsa Public School District, Judith Barba won outright in the primary for Seat 2. Barba earned 53% of the vote against two other candidates.

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Colorado school board recall election to be held Feb. 16

A recall election seeking to remove Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado is being held on February 16, 2021. 

The recall election ballot has two questions. One asks if voters are in favor of recalling McDaniel with the option to vote yes or no. The other question lists the successor candidates. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling McDaniel, the successor candidate who receives the most votes will replace him on the board. If a majority of voters cast ballots against recalling McDaniel, he will retain his position on the board.

The filing deadline for successor candidates was January 8. Cody Wells was the only candidate to file.

The recall effort started in July 2020. Recall supporters said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding several of his social media posts. The petition stated, “We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children.”

McDaniel said he was not concerned about the recall effort. “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. McDaniel said he stood by his social media posts. “The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters of the effort had to submit 1,126 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 40% of the citizens in the school district who voted in the last school board election. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell determined enough signatures were valid. Before a recall election could be scheduled, four challenges were submitted against the petition, saying the petition was “baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” A hearing on the challenges was held on November 19, and the challenges were denied on November 23. Hearing Officer Mike Green said that the recall petition met the statutory requirements.

McDaniel is one of seven members on the board of education. He was appointed to his position in 2018.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Oklahoma school districts to hold primary elections on Feb. 9

The nonpartisan primary election for school board seats in Oklahoma is on February 9, 2021. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for April 6, 2021. The filing deadline passed on December 9, 2020.

Five school districts within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope are holding primary elections for five seats. In Oklahoma, school districts cancel primary elections if fewer than three candidates file to run for each seat up for election, and the candidates automatically advance to the general election. Both the primary and general elections are canceled if only one candidate files for a seat up for election, and the unopposed candidate is automatically elected. The following school districts are holding primary elections:

• Edmond Public Schools

• Owasso Public Schools

• Putnam City Schools

• Tulsa Public schools

• Oklahoma City Public Schools

In all, a total of 33 school board seats across 26 Oklahoma school districts covered by Ballotpedia are up for election in 2021.

The largest school district covered by Ballotpedia and holding elections in Oklahoma in 2021 is Oklahoma City Public Schools. The district served 39,806 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

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