On Tuesday, voters across a wide swath of Delaware, including my home district here in Laurel, will choose at least one member of their school board in local elections. I noted awhile back that our one seat had four aspirants, which was tied for the most in the state, but since then one of them withdrew and left us a three-person race.
To be frank, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of media interest in these hyperlocal elections and I haven’t really come across much in the way of campaigning except for scattered yard signs from two of the three here in my district. Other districts, however, seem to have a little more action.
One of the rare stories regarding this race piqued a bit of interest on both sides of the political spectrum. A Delaware News Journal story discussing my newfound friends at the Patriots for Delaware (P4D) and the five candidates they have thus far endorsed also begat a counter from the Delaware chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) with “a statewide list of people running that we are not officially endorsing but are suggesting.”
Since the Patriots for Delaware only endorsed five people running – with one assured of victory because he’s unopposed – here are the four remaining contests where both sides have endorsed a candidate:
- Brandywine (NCC): Tonya Hettler (P4D) vs. Kimberly Stock (DSA). There is also a Libertarian candidate, Scott Gesty – which is sort of bad news since they may split the reformer vote, but hopefully won’t.
- Cape Henlopen (Sussex): Ashley Murray (P4D) vs. Janis Hanwell (DSA). Two-person race.
- Red Clay (NCC): Janice Colmery (P4D) vs. Kecia Nesmith (DSA). Rafael Ochoa is a third candidate, who may get the vote of people convinced the other two are extremists.
- Woodbridge (Sussex): Danielle Taylor (P4D) vs. Elaine Gallant (DSA). Two-person race.
It’s worth pointing out that the DSA didn’t necessarily seek out candidates, but are putting up this list because they seek what they call “real and positive educational leadership.” It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if their list isn’t a simple reflection of candidates backed by the teachers’ union.
Here in Sussex County, I’ve already covered two of the five districts holding an election (Indian River is not) and the Seaford district has just one candidate. That leaves Delmar and Laurel.
Delmar has some spirited races going because there are two races: one for the last two years of an unexpired term and another for a full term. Interestingly, the DSA chose not to endorse anyone in the Delmar races (the only such contests in the state) so we’ll let them fight it out accordingly.
In Laurel, the DSA chose a former school principal with the memorable name of Ivy Bonk, who hasn’t otherwise grabbed my attention (she has no signage that I’ve seen nor a social media campaign page) but does have the claim to fame of writing two books on childhood trauma. It’s interesting that the DSA did not choose the former board member who lost last year and decided to run again (David B. Nichols) and I didn’t figure on them backing the youth coach who has kids in the Laurel school system (Joey Deiter.)
To be honest, I think the best choice in these cases is generally the outsider since a new set of eyes can often see problems that exist right under the nose of the others on the board. This race has two outsiders, but one of them talks right over the head of the electorate with her buzzwords and jargon, a lingo which includes the concept of equity I’ve considered quite a bit recently. The other coaches kids and has a wife who runs a family business, so I believe he would be more amenable to the arguments I would make about instilling competition for the school system to make the prospects better for all children.
So I’m going to go with Joey Deiter. We’ll see if my endorsement carries more weight than the one provided by the Democratic Socialists of Delaware.