This story was updated at 1 p.m. Nov. 9 with comments from Best DCSD and David DiCarlo.
A high voter turnout in Douglas County boosted school board candidates Susan Meek, Brad Geiger and Valerie Thompson over a more conservative slate of candidates, upsetting the Republican status quo for the school board.
With over 143,000 ballots counted as of 4:23 p.m. Nov. 8, Meek, Geiger and Thompson have comfortable leads over candidates Andy Jones, David DiCarlo, Jason Page and Maria Sumnicht.
Meek, Geiger and Thompson ran as the Community Choice, Community Voice coalition with a platform of retaining and attracting teachers, restoring community trust and ensuring safe and welcoming schools for all students.
Jones, Page and Sumnicht ran as the Best DCSD slate, a conservative campaign with a platform of school safety, academic excellence, parent’s rights and expanding career and technical education.
Despite Jones, Page and Sumnicht running as conservatives, only DiCarlo was endorsed by the Douglas County GOP.
DiCarlo was the only conservative candidate who opposed ballot measures 5A and 5B, which aimed to increase school funding through tax dollars.
About 92,000 people voted in the 2019 Douglas County school board race and more than 118,000 voters participated in 2021, when the current board majority was elected.
That election was seen as a mandate from voters pushing back against covid pandemic restrictions.
So far, more than 124,000 voters participated in the school board election this year, the highest turnout in recent school board elections.
Meek, who was first elected to the board in 2019, has now seen overwhelming voter support for two elections in a row. In 2019, Meek beat Jones by more than 2,200 votes and this year, that margin widened to more than 7,300 votes.
On election night, Meek said she feels that along with Geiger and Thompson, they will represent the majority of Douglas County.
“I think the majority aligns with what we’ve said about student-centered decision making and ensuring we’re tackling local issues, not national agendas,” Meek said. “One of our community’s top concerns is a loss of trust in our board, so that was central for us and our campaigns.”
Geiger echoed Meek in his comments on election night, saying voters showed their support for strong public education. Geiger received 48% of the vote.
Geiger ran against Page and DiCarlo who split the Republican vote. Page had 29% of the votes while DiCarlo had 23%, according to the latest election numbers.
“If you look at the voter demographics, we could not have the majority we have without Republicans and unaffiliated voters saying that competence matters and worrying about what’s best for the district, not national issues, is the most important thing,” Geiger said.
Douglas County voters are 33% Republican, 18% Democrat and 47% unaffiliated, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
A statement from Best DCSD said the candidates are grateful for the voters and their supporters, as well as congratulated Meek, Geiger and Thompson.
“We are grateful to all the members of the Douglas County community we were able to meet throughout our campaign who trusted us with their vote,” the statement said. “We are also appreciative of those who worked so hard to help us on our campaign journey. We’d like to congratulate Susan, Valerie and Brad on their victory and hope they will seek academic excellence, safety and security, and parent, teacher and community partnerships in Douglas County Schools.”
DiCarlo said in a statement that he was thankful for the support he received and lamented the split vote in his race.
“The school board leadership and my opponent’s campaign manager set up an unfortunate three-way race when they appointed and ran a pro-tax candidate to challenge me,” he said. “Though we had hoped for a better outcome, we all knew it was going to be difficult when it became clear they were willing to sacrifice three board seats for a tax increase. I am thankful for the outpouring of support I received throughout the campaign and I’m confident conservative candidates will be able to build on what we accomplished and do better in future elections.”
In a statement from the Douglas County GOP Chair Steve Peck, Peck called Page a “spoiler candidate.”
“Based on the preliminary results, a majority of voters were clearly seeking a conservative representative of the district, and that was Mr. DiCarlo, who earned more than 75 percent support from the party in May 2023,” Peck said. “I hope Republicans learn a important lesson from this cycle that ignoring and shunning the Republican Party will always be a recipe for disaster.”
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