election 2017

Leadership stays the same for Jeffco Public Schools

Three Board of Education incumbents won re-election Nov. 7

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Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell keep their seats on the Jefferson County Board of Education, having won re-election Nov. 7.

The three incumbents were elected following the recall of the board majority in 2015.

Two challengers, supported by the Jefferson County Republicans, sought to add their points of view to the new board majority, however, Rupert and Harmon garnered 60 percent of the votes securing their seats. Mitchell ran unopposed. All three will serve another four years.

Harmon said with the addition of new Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Glass, it’s exciting that the board will be staying the same for a while.

“We’ve had a lot of change over the last few years, which makes moving forward sometimes more challenging,” Harmon said. “Now that we have this behind us, it gives us the opportunity to really dig in on some work that needs to be addressed.”

Harmon, an attorney in Jefferson County, represents District 2, which covers the westernmost part of the county.

“It’s been a long couple months and you never know how it’s gonna go,” Harmon said. “So, I’m looking forward to re-engaging on the board.”

Rupert, an attorney in Arvada, will continue representing District 1, which covers the north and northeast portion of the county.

“I’m really excited,” Rupert said at a watch party held at Applewood Golf Course on Election Night. “It’s a community effort. It’s not about me, it’s not about Susan or Ron, it’s about the kids and a community that cares deeply about its schools and wants to maintain that.”

Rupert said the next steps are to get down to the business of doing education.

“It’s closing achievement gaps, continuing to expand the pathways — all the things we have been really talking about on the campaign trail because it is the real work that needs to get done.”

But challengers Matt Van Gieson and Erica Shields said just because the election is over, they aren’t backing down.

“Tomorrow, I’m still the dad of a second-grader and a kindergartner,” Van Gieson said. “I’m still going to be invested.”

Shields also said it’s not over.

“We’re going to keep doing what we can to make a difference in education,” she said. “We plan on getting more involved and making sure the school board is engaged in the community.”

To her, the biggest disappointment in the race was the voter turnout.

This year 124,000 voters cast ballots in the Jeffco Schools race. In 2015, 155,000 people voted in the general election that included two board of education seats. This year’s BOE election garnered a 30 percent voter turnout.

The local races echo the statewide numbers. The voter turnout for Colorado this election was 31 percent.

“I think the bottom line is that we’re just disappointed that more voters didn’t come out and vote,” Shields said. “Every election is so important.”

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