Voters in the Durango School District 9-R board election Tuesday gave strong endorsement to the board’s leadership of the district, re-electing two incumbents, including the board’s vice chairwoman. Erika Brown and Andrea Parmenter received approximately 70% of the vote, with newcomer Richard Petersen only a few percentage points behind.
To those who follow elections and how close they often can be, anything more than 55% can be considered a landslide.
The three were opposed by candidates who shared a website and had the appearance of running together. While they largely spoke in generalities about the need for improved test scores and better community member access, they were seen as possibly reflecting the cultural divide that conservatives are fostering with their opposition to masks in schools and to excessive racial instruction.
One of the three, Richard “Dean” Hill, tied education and Christianity, likely pleasing some but disturbing a larger number.
That, and the charge that Parmenter had continued to vote after moving her residence from one district to another and thus prevented a special election, were the issues.
The hiring of a new superintendent, who seems to be off to a good start, and the behind-closed-doors decision to sell the Administration building to the fire district, seldom came up, if at all.
More than 40% of registered voters participated in the mail-in, drop-box election, exceeding the strong 2019 off year turnout by a couple of percentage points.
About board member districts: The Durango Herald’s editorial board is not convinced school board districts are needed, that instead a stronger board might often result from voting for those seen to be the candidates with the most to offer no matter where they live within the school district.
But, more about that in a later editorial.
As to the three statewide questions, La Plata County voters joined state results that opposed them all. Using an additional marijuana tax to help boost individual student learning would have created a governing board and some complexity; giving the Legislature rather than the governor control over some categories of incoming federal money would be a bad idea; and, reducing property taxes on multi-unit residential properties would hurt small taxing districts.
This off year election was well managed by the county clerk, as expected. La Plata County is very fortunate to have Tiffany Lee as clerk and recorder.