To avoid a potential split vote during the November school board election, one Douglas County School Board candidate already has dropped out of the race. Others may soon follow.
Stephen Boyd, of Larkspur, who’d filed his intention to seek the District D seat, said he won’t move forward with his campaign. His decision followed contact from board opponents and Douglas County Republicans.
“I don’t want to split the vote, and I met with people who I think have a better chance of winning,” Boyd said, adding he most likely will support Julie Keim for the slot. “So I don’t mind backing off and letting them go.”
Lynne Butler, a vocal opponent of the current board, said several individuals aiming for major change on the board spoke with candidates in crowded races about narrowing the field.
“If we can flip the board, we will raise morale and bring back the focus into our classrooms,” she said. “But there’s no way to do it unless you have one candidate.”
Butler and others don’t want to see a repeat of 2011, when they believe a split vote between two like-minded candidates put board member Craig Richardson on top. Richardson won with almost 46 percent of the District A vote. Susan Meek and Kevin Reilly combined for 54 percent.
“It’s my opinion people will not make the same mistake again,” Butler said.
Chairman Craig Steiner said Douglas County Republicans aren’t asking anyone to step down. The local party interviewed candidates and is endorsing a slate of Republicans who, like the existing board, support education reform.
“We did send out some follow-up questions basically saying, ‘If you are not endorsed, will you consider withdrawing and endorsing our candidate?’” Steiner said. “We certainly aren’t telling them not to run, we’re just asking them if they’d be willing to do that.”
Nick Land, a 2013 graduate of Chaparral High School who is running against incumbent Meghann Silverthorn and Ronda Scholting in District G, also has been encouraged to reconsider his campaign, Butler said. Land did not return calls or emails requesting comment.
Scholting, who opposes much of the current board’s actions, said she’s focused on her campaign.
“I think there’s some concern when you have a whole lot of choices,” she said. “You always hope folks are educated, and have an idea who’s going to be best for the schools.”
Keim, who questions the district’s current direction, said she and the other District D candidates have talked about the race.
“But there’s no grand plan,” she said. “We know from past experience what does or does not need to happen. It’s a matter of us working that out among ourselves.”
Board member Carrie Mendoza now holds the District D seat; she has not yet indicated if she will run for election.
Other District D candidates include Kevin Leung and Judi Reynolds.
Both local Republicans and board opponents believe they need to win all four seats.
Douglas County Parents, a community group whose goal is to elect four new board members, said they are not actively working to narrow the candidate field.
“While Douglas County Parents will endorse candidates, we have no influence over who will or will not run,” steering committee member Laura Welch said. “Once candidates are announced, we will research who best supports public education and will meet the needs of all our children.”
Three candidates also are running in District B for the seat now occupied by term-limited president John Carson.
District E incumbent Doug Benevento so far is unopposed.
To be on the fall ballot, each candidate must by Aug. 30 submit a petition with 50 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State.