People standing in a room in anticipation of election results
Michelle Applegate, Erin Kenworthy, Jason Kenworthy, Jeannie Shero and Katie Winner wait for election results on Nov. 7. Credit: Courtesy photo

This story was updated at 5 p.m. Nov. 8.

Candidates Michelle Applegate and Erin Kenworthy have won two open school board seats by 58.41% and 42.15%, according to unofficial election results. With 99.2% of the ballots of the county’s ballots counted, it’s unlikely either candidate could lose their lead.

Applegate had 103,692 votes for the District 3 seat, representing portions of Wheat Ridge, Arvada and north-central Lakewood. Kenworthy had 73,741 votes for the District 4 seat, representing central/south-central Lakewood and Edgewater.

In District 3, Applegate led her opponent Thomas Wicke by nearly 17 percentage points and 30,000 votes. While in District 4, Kenworthy led her opponents Amara Hildebrand and Joel Newton by approximately 14,500 and 31,900 votes.

“We are grateful for the support of our Jeffco community in our efforts to join the Jeffco School Board,” Applegate said. “Our students deserve leadership that will work collaboratively to ensure that they have safe, thriving schools, supported educators and staff, and learning opportunities that meet their strengths and interests as they prepare to enter college or the workforce.”

Kenworthy also said she appreciates the support she received from educators, staff and the community.

“I’m looking forward to working with other elected officials to address the needs of all Jeffco school communities. Educating our students is a team effort, and Michelle and I are excited to be a part of that team, and look forward to joining current board members Paula Reed, Mary Parker and Danielle Varda, and working with Superintendent Tracy Dorland, to keep Jeffco moving forward,” Kenworthy said.

Applegate and Kenworthy received support from the Jefferson County Education Association, the district’s teacher’s union.  “We are looking forward to having collaborative conversations with our new school board members as we move Jeffco public schools forward,” said Brooke Williams, Art educator and union president. “Our voters in Jeffco have spoken, and it’s clear that they value retaining the best educators. We are excited to work with them to ensure all students, regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs, ability, and socio-economic status, have safe and supported learning environments.” 

Michelle Applegate has three children in Jefferson County schools. She calls herself a lifelong education supporter and says she’ll bring her experience as an engineer and district volunteer to her role as a board member.

During the campaign, Applegate said her main priorities are “ensuring Jeffco has strong, thriving public schools, making safety a part of the student experience, and building trust through budget transparency.”

When it comes to how to best use the district’s closed schools, Applegate said, “We must build and maintain working partnerships with local municipalities, Jefferson County, families and community members to identify areas of community needs or wants and find mutually beneficial, collaborative solutions for closed school facilities.”

Applegate will replace incumbent Stephanie Schooley, who chose not to run for re-election.

Erin Kenworthy has two children in Jefferson County and has over 18 years of experience in public schools and community-focused non-profits.

Kenworthy believes teacher pay and retention is the most significant issue facing the district. To save money, Kenworthy said in a candidate Q&A, “We can focus on reducing costs associated with teacher turnover by attracting and retaining the highly qualified teachers we need and have in our district already. I’d advocate in favor of funding special education resources to avoid legal costs associated with not meeting legal requirements in individualized education plans.”

She believes schools have a responsibility to keep students safe and that the district’s educators are qualified to be supportive adults when discussing sensitive topics with children.

Kenworthy will replace incumbent Susan Miller who chose not to run for re-election.

Those elected to the Jefferson County school board serve four-year terms and will be sworn in before the end of the year They serve as volunteers and receive no compensation for their service to the school district.

Community elections are dynamic, so this story may be updated as new information becomes available.

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