Candidates who campaigned on a platform of parental rights, opposition to critical race theory and claims that schools are indoctrinating students in liberal ideologies won seats in multiple Hamilton County school board races, according to unofficial election results.
School boards in Indiana are made up of non-partisan officials, but campaigns in Hamilton County featured national political talking points and endorsements from high profile politicians.
The winning candidates in Hamilton Southeastern are Tiffany Pascoe (District 1), Juanita Albright (District 2), Dawn Lang (District 3) and Ben Orr (District 4). The slate was promoted in a Facebook post by the Hamilton County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a powerful and controversial conservative group that rose to prominence by opposing mask mandates, critical race theory and social emotional learning. The group aims to install like-minded people in school board seats across the country.
Amber Huff Willis (at-large), William Anderson (District 2) and Rebecca Ogle (District 4) won seats on the Westfield Washington school board; they were also supported by Moms for Liberty Hamilton County.
READ MORE: Conservative politics drive fight for control of Indiana’s school boards
The Carmel Clay board race proved less successful for conservative candidates; incumbent Jennifer Nelson-Williams (District 2) won with 46 percent of the vote. She defeated conservative candidate Adam Sharp, who campaigned as part of a Republican-backed slate with Jenny Brake and Greg Brown.
Kristin Kouka (District 1) — who campaigned with Jake Nichols (District 3) and Nelson-Williams — won a seat on the board in a tight race against Brake; she received just 117 more votes than Brake, according to unofficial election results.
Greg Brown (District 3) is the only member of his slate to win a seat on the Carmel Clay board. And he received just 90 more votes than Nichols.
Nelson-Williams, Kouka and Nichols campaign in support of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Carmel-Clay schools, while the Brake, Brown and Sharp campaign claimed radical liberal teachers were indoctrinating Carmel students.
In the at-large race for two spots on the Noblesville school board, incumbent Joe E. Forgey and Misti Ray — another candidate supported by multiple anti-CRT groups — were the top two vote getters.
More than 48 percent of eligible voters in Hamilton County cast ballots in the mid term election. The deadline for the county to certify election results in Nov. 21. Candidates have until noon Nov. 22 to file for a verified recount or contest petition of election results.
The unofficial results:
|Carmel Clay School Board|
|Kristin Kouka - Winner||39.49%|
|Jennifer Nelson-Williams - Winner||46.25%|
|Greg Brown - Winner||50.15%|
|Hamilton Heights School Board|
|Julie Davis - Winner||100%|
|White River Township|
|Benjamin Lehman - Winner||59.83%|
|Arnie Cooper - Winner||100%|
|Hamilton Southeastern School Board|
|Tiffany Pascoe - Winner||52.45%|
|Juanita Albright - Winner||58.76%|
|Dawn Lang - Winner||61.44%|
|Ben Orr - Winner||55.73%|
|Noblesville School Board|
|At Large (top 2 candidates win)|
|Joe Forgey - Winner||28.52%|
|Chuck Haberman II||21.19%|
|Misti Ray - Winner||22.68%|
|Sheridan School Board|
|Adams Township (top 2 candidates win)|
|Tyler Henning - Winner||44.08%|
|Kim Zachery - Winner||55.92%|
|Nancy Boone - Winner||47.57%|
|Westfield Washington School Board|
|William Anderson - Winner||51.19%|
|Rebecca Ogle - Winner||56.08%|
|Amber Huff Willis - Winner||52.98%|
Clarifcation: This story has been updated to reflect that the Hamilton County chapter of Moms for Liberty supported the winning candidates through social media posts
Contact WFYI education reporter Lee V. Gaines at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @LeeVGaines.