Two candidates who joined forces in their race for Cherry Creek school board — incumbent Kelly Bates and Kristin Allan — jumped to wide leads Tuesday night in the 2021 election.
In partial results at 11:09 p.m., Bates was leading her nearest competitor in a three-way field, Jen Gibbons, by an 18 percentage point margin, and Allan was ahead of second-place candidate Bill Leach by nearly 21 points. Those were the latest results as of 1 a.m. Wednesday.
"It was a really hard race," Allan said in an interview with Colorado Community Media. "I think everybody worked really hard, and I am so honored that the voters elected me. It’s incredible. I’m so glad so many people see my vision and share my vision and want to be part of Cherry Creek's excellence moving forward.
Allan added: "I think that there’s a belief in the public schools system here that is kind of ... It’s not an anomaly — I know there are other (high-performing) districts — but everybody that I’ve met and gotten to know along the way have moved into all the different parts of Cherry Creek because of the diversity and the engagement and the many benefits that the school district provides."
In the election that ended Tuesday, residents of the Cherry Creek School District selected two directors of the school board from among six candidates, in sharp contrast to four years ago, when the district’s election was canceled because the two seats drew only one candidate each on the ballot.
This time around, contentious issues such as COVID safety policies drew more interest to school board contests here and in other parts of the state.
The school district includes much of central and east Centennial as well as Greenwood Village, south Aurora and a small portion of Englewood.
Board seats represent different portions of the school district, but directors are elected “at large” by all district residents. At stake in this year’s election were board districts D and E.
Board District D includes parts of far east Centennial and southeast Aurora. Board District E includes central and east Centennial as well as parts of Greenwood Village, Aurora and unincorporated Arapahoe County. Three candidates were running to represent each of the two board districts.
In District D, Bates ran for another term on the board, facing challengers Gibbons and Schumé Navarro.
In District E, Allan faced Leach and Jason Lester in a bid to succeed board president Karen Fisher.
Bates and Allan appeared on campaign flyers as a slate, with Gibbons and Leach promoted as a competing slate.
On the issue of mask-wearing policy, Bates and Allan have generally supported current district policies, while Gibbons and Leach have expressed more skepticism about mask mandates.
"I think because the demographics are changing, we have to change where we see our excellence, where excellence is," Allan said. "The voters are on board with the moving target of excellence and how we continue to achieve it."
For results of other races, including Centennial city leaders, visit ColoradoCommunityMedia.com.
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