School board elections: polls open until 8 p.m. Tuesday

Jarek RutzEducation, Headlines

School board elections are Tuesday with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

School board elections are Tuesday with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Today’s the day: after nine weeks of campaigning, 40 Delawareans will compete for 23 school board seats in Tuesday’s school board elections. 

“Over the last couple of months, our campaign has had the opportunity to connect with thousands of voters who’ve shared their stories, hopes, and aspiration for Red Clay and its future,” said Jose Matthews, an incumbent board member in Red Clay Consolidated School District vying for reelection against Carlucci Coelho. 

He said he’s been touched by listening to how much Red Clay means to the community and the immeasurable impact the district has on its students and families every day.

“Not only have we kept this campaign positive, but we’ve focused on the issues our children are facing most,” he said. “We have wasted no time door knocking, phone banking, and fundraising to put our words into action.”

One of the biggest takeaways of the campaign, he said, is that the importance of the school board position can only be fully appreciated when accompanied by a leader who fights for change and works collaboratively to ensure students and families have the best educational resources available. 

“Having been in this role, I can tell you it’s not for the faint-hearted,” he said. “School boards are intense and a major responsibility. Today we’re prepared to move forward and get folks out to the polls.”

In last year’s election, 42 candidates campaigned for 19 open seats.

Leo Darmstadter, who’s running for a seat in the Indian River School District against Michael Bellerose and Ivan Neal, said Tuesday is a chance to make a difference for the children of the community. 

“After weeks of preparation it boils down to one day, today,” he said. “Our children, our staff, our district, our choice.”

March 3 was the deadline for filing, but a 2021 law requires school board candidates to complete a criminal background check and a child registry check before their name is listed on the Department of Elections website.

According to Delaware Code, the State Bureau of Identification must complete a criminal background check within 15 days of the candidate’s request.

Laurisa Schutt, executive director of First State Educate, a local education advocacy group, previously raised questions about the transparency of who filed.

Candidates should have been listed as “pending” if they’re waiting on checks to be completed, that way the public is aware of who’s running, she said.

House Bill 88, sponsored by Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, tries to rectify this glitch.

The bill would require the state to publicly list school board candidates who are waiting for their background checks to be completed as a “provisional candidate.”

HB88 needs to pass the Senate before landing on Gov. John Carney’s desk for signature.

Education groups across the state hope that participation in this election rises, as voter turnout in school board elections is typically less than 10%.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find polling locations and other election information, click here.

After some campaign delays and a few candidates withdrawing, here are the candidates for the 2023 school board elections: 

New Castle County

Appoquinimink (1 open seat)

  • Tashiba A. Graham
  • Timothy W. Johns
  • Raymond Joseph Petkevis

Brandywine School District (2 open seats)

  • Shanika Perry, incumbent District A
  • Ralph G. Ackerman, incumbent District C

Christina School District (2 open seats)

  • Christine A. Gilbert, District C
  • Douglas Danger Manley, District C
  • ​​Y.F. Lou, District E
  • Yong Peng, District E

Colonial School District (2 open seats)

  • Ronald D. Handy Sr., incumbent District A
  • Ja’Lisa K. White, District C

Red Clay Consolidated School District (2 open seats)

  • Aje English-Wynn, District A
  • John Shulli, District A
  • Carlucci Coelho, District D
  • Jose Matthews, incumbent District D

Kent County

Caesar Rodney School District (1 open seat)

  • Tawanna Prophet Brinkley
  • Nicole Hill
  • Emily Phelan

Capital School District (1 open seat)

  • Sean P.M. Christiansen, incumbent

Lake Forest School District (1 open seat)

  • Jordan McCloskey, incumbent 

Milford School District (3 open seats)

  • Ashlee Connell, At-large
  • Danielle Deinert, At-large
  • Victor “Butch” Elzey III, District A
  • Jennifer Massotti, District B

Smyrna School District (1 open seat)

  • Marie Fontaine St. Pierre
  • Bobbi Jo Webber

Sussex County

Cape Henlopen School District (1 open seat)

  • Shawn L. Lovenguth
  • Jessica A. Tyndall, incumbent

Delmar School District (1 open seat)

  • Shane Bowden
  • Dawn M. Turner

Indian River School District (2 open seats)

  • Michael R. Bellerose, District 2
  • Leo J. Darmstadter III, District 2
  • Ivan D. Neal, District 2
  • Leolga T. Wright, incumbent District 3 

Laurel School District (1 open seat)

  • Ivy Bonk
  • Sabrina Isler, incumbent

Seaford School District (1 open seat)

  • Armore Rice
  • Stephanie Smith
  • David Tull, incumbent 

Woodbridge School District (1 open seat)

  • Jeffrey W. Allen, incumbent

To find contact information for each candidate, click here.

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