MARYSVILLE — In an unusually contentious season for school board races, incumbents fared pretty well Tuesday.
Not in the Marysville School District, however. There, a conservative newcomer concerned about “critical race theory” was on his way to unseating the incumbent board president. And a second social conservative candidate led in a race for an open seat.
School board elections this year emerged as a proxy for a culture war on COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates, sex education curriculum and how the history of racism in the United States is taught.
Here are results from a handful of contests in which these issues seemed as important to voters as school levies and standardized tests.
Randy Hayden, one of those conservative-leaning candidates, was ahead of appointed school director Maggie Weimer, 51.7% to 46.6% for a seat on the Darrington School Board.
Weimer was appointed to the vacant Position 4 seat in January. She is making her first run for office. Hayden is a Republican Party leader at the county and state levels and previously ran for state legislative office.
Director Caroline Mason led challenger Jeannie Magdua, 63.3% to 36.1% for Position 3 on the Everett School Board. Mason, the current board president, was seeking a second six-year term. Magdua is making her first run for office. The two provided voters a sharp contrast in style and substance.
Mason wanted another term to see the district through the pandemic. She said she wanted to make sure federal COVID aid will be used to protect the health of students and to help them regain academic ground.
Magdua entered the race out of concern over sex education curriculum and the influence of critical race theory on instruction. She opposed the state’s mask mandate and said salaries of the superintendent and teachers should be cut before a levy is put in front of voters in 2022.
Hanson, a parent of two young children, is a former college instructor and an active voice in the Lake Stevens BIPOC & Allies organization. This was her first run for office.
Rogers, an attorney and administrator with the parking enforcement program of the Seattle Police Department, ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general in 2020.
Vildan Kirby was leading Carolyn Bennett by a 55.8% to 43.3% margin for District 5.
Kirby, who has two middle school-aged sons, is a substitute teacher in the Lake Stevens School District.
Bennett, also a parent, serves on the city’s salary commission. She’s a granddaughter of the district’s former superintendent, Donald Oates.
Director Vanessa Edwards, who was seeking a second term, appeared to have lost to more conservative Wade Rinehardt, a Marysville Boys and Girls Club coach, by a margin of 57.3% to 42% in District 4.
Edwards, a former secretary at Cedarcrest Middle School, is board president. She has been at the helm as the district dealt with challenges wrought by the pandemic, criticism of its response to racist threats directed at students of color and the negotiated departure of Superintendent Jason Thompson this summer.
She campaigned on her experience, saying she better understands how decisions made at the top affect what happens in the classroom.
Rinehardt argued curriculum should be decided by the community, and in his opinion, the district should be teaching what he considers “unbiased history.” He did not back mandates for mask wearing.
In the duel for District 1, Connor Krebbs held a lead on Ray Sheldon, garnering 52.5% to Sheldon’s 47%.
In District 3, Sherry Weersing collected 83.4%. Keira Atchley, who currently holds the seat, campaigned as a write-in candidate.
Two newcomers who supported mask and vaccine mandates were on course to join him.
Campbell, a middle school Spanish teacher in the Northshore School District, led Brian Saulsman, librarian at Lake Stevens Middle School, by a margin of 52.3% to 47.1% for District 1. Campbell was appointed to the board earlier this year.
In District 3, Mary Reule was ahead of Molly Barnes, 51.5% to 48% and in District 4, Sarah Johnson led Janine Burkhardt, 51.8% to 47.6%.
Barnes and Burkhardt carried the banner of social conservatives with concerns about the influence of “critical race theory” in the classroom and opposition to the mask mandate for students. Barnes also enlisted the services of a political consultant, whose clients include candidates alleging widespread fraud marred the 2020 election, in spite of evidence to the contrary.
Reule, a retired Monroe school teacher, and Johnson, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, backed the state’s mask and vaccine mandates to help keep students safe from the coronavirus.
Director Judy Schwab, who was seeking a seventh consecutive term, led Peter Swardstrom 66.4% to 33.3% for District 2 of the Mukilteo School Board.
Schwab was first elected to the board in 1997. She has a background in education and raised a son in the district.
This was the first run for any office for Swardstrom, who had a “back to the basics” platform. His two children are students in the district.
Charles Hauck had a slim advantage on Jayme Lee Vail, 52.4% to 47% for District 4.
Vail is a long-term care worker in assisted living and dementia care. She has two daughters in Mukilteo schools. Charles Hauck, a real estate broker, has grandchildren in the district. Both were first-time candidates.
Herald writer Andrea Brown contributed to this report.