November 8, 2022

Anti-CRT, pro-parental rights candidates win seats on Hamilton County school boards

Interest in school board races increased in Hamilton County following the nationalization of school board elections under the banner of parents’ rights -- a response to school policies related to COVID, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion measures. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Interest in school board races increased in Hamilton County following the nationalization of school board elections under the banner of parents’ rights -- a response to school policies related to COVID, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion measures.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

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 MOREConservative 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  
District 1  
Sheldon Barnes 11.48%
Jenny Brake 39.15%
Stephanie Flittner 9.88%
Kristin Kouka - Winner 39.49%
District 2  
Lori Long 10.02%
Jennifer Nelson-Williams - Winner 46.25%
Adam Sharp 43.73%
District 3  
Greg Brown - Winner 50.15%
Jake Nichols 49.85%
   
Hamilton Heights School Board  
Jackson Township  
Julie Davis - Winner 100%
White River Township  
Benjamin Lehman - Winner 59.83%
Doug Ozolins 40.17%
At Large  
Arnie Cooper - Winner 100%
   
Hamilton Southeastern School Board  
District 1  
Brad Boyer 12.14%
Edward Gedeon 2.63%
Jackie Howell 32.78%
Tiffany Pascoe - Winner 52.45%
District 2  
Juanita Albright - Winner 58.76%
Janet Pritchett 41.24%
District 3  
Carla Cork 38.56%
Dawn Lang - Winner 61.44%
District 4  
Julie Chambers 41.61%
Harry Delks 2.66%
Ben Orr - Winner 55.73%
   
Noblesville School Board  
At Large (top 2 candidates win)  
Joe Forgey - Winner 28.52%
Chuck Haberman II 21.19%
Melba Kiser 19.57%
Brian Laskey 8.04%
Misti Ray - Winner 22.68%
   
Sheridan School Board  
Adams Township (top 2 candidates win)  
Tyler Henning - Winner 44.08%
Kim Zachery - Winner 55.92%
At Large  
Nancy Boone - Winner 47.57%
Drew Carlisle 20.11%
Cheri Hume 32.32%
   
Westfield Washington School Board  
District 2  
William Anderson - Winner 51.19%
Patrick Phillips 48.81%
District 4  
Rebecca Ogle - Winner 56.08%
Jill Woerner 43.92%
At Large  
Patrick Fassnacht 27.52%
Alan Ford 12.06%
Amber Huff Willis - Winner 52.98%
Curtis Wyatt 7.43%

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 lgaines@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @LeeVGaines.

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