Today local voters overwhelmingly elected Susan Duncan and Lorraine Price to the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education. Santa Fe residents also approved the school bond issue by wide margins.
Duncan received 1,173 votes, or 88%, compared to 162 votes, or 12% percent, for Fred Zimbler. Price garnered 1,190 out of 1,605 votes, or 74%, with only 415 votes, or 26%, going to Louis Carlos.
The school bond question passed with 4,341, or 78%, approving, and 1,203 opposed.
Figures from the secretary of state and county clerk indicate only 6.6% of Santa Fe voters participated in today’s election. Turnout peaked in Districts 3 and 5, where residents could vote on both school board candidates and the bond issue.
Duncan told the Santa Fe Reporter in a recent interview that she wants to raise salaries for teachers and support staff. “I think we’re having a hard time attracting and retaining good staff because our salaries aren’t competitive,” she said.
Price told SFR she will tackle the district budget, which she sees as “a major responsibility of the school board.” She also wants to support the superintendent’s plans for education reform and help meet the needs of students and teachers.
The $130 million bond approved by voters will fund a new K-8 school on the city’s south side; projects at César Chávez Community School, Agua Fría Elementary School, Ramirez Thomas Elementary School, and Kearny Elementary School; and other capital improvements.
The SFR, the Santa Fe New Mexican, and reportedly the local teachers union, each endorsed Duncan and Price over their opponents. In today’s low-turnout election, this triple endorsement likely contributed a sizable and decisive number of votes to the victors.
SFR reported earlier today that Duncan and Price outraised their opponents by several thousand dollars. The winning candidates had campaign funds for voter contact, district maps, voter rolls, and printing; their opponents made basic purchases of the latter two.
The election of Duncan and Price may give Superintendent Joel Boyd and his plans for reform a boost. In a forum last week, Zimbler criticized Boyd, accused him of intimidating personnel, and said he paid consultants and administrators too much.
Denise Lamb at the county clerk’s office tells SFR that today’s election occurred without any problems or delays. A few voters called in with the usual questions about where to vote, since many polling locations had changed since last November.
House Joint Resolution 2, introduced by State Rep. James Smith, R-Bernalillo, and State Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Bernalillo, would allow school board elections to occur concurrently with municipal elections. This could substantially increase turnout in Santa Fe’s school board elections.