November 8, 2016

Reform-Minded Incumbents Retain Control of IPS Board But One Loses Seat

Former IPS Board member Elizabeth Gore regained a seat on the board by beating incumbent Sam Odle for At-large. - Provided

Former IPS Board member Elizabeth Gore regained a seat on the board by beating incumbent Sam Odle for At-large.


Efforts to reform Indianapolis Public Schools will likely remain on track after two incumbents and a first-time candidate who supports the ongoing changes, beat out challengers in the election of the district’s Board of Commissioners.

But one-term incumbent Sam Odle, who backed the proposed remedies and had $37,000 in campaign contributions, lost his at-large seat to former board president Elizabeth Gore who ran a quiet campaign with only a reported $250 but retained a following throughout the city since being voted out four years ago. 

Other winners were incumbents Diane Arnold (District 4) and Michael O’Connor (District 2). First-time candidate Venita Moore beat out three other candidates for the District 2 seat.

This election was a pivotal point for IPS as four of seven seats were open on a board that has almost unanimously backed the vision of Superintendent Lewis Ferebee to improve the struggling district. A big enough shift in board membership in the election could have drastically altered the district’s direction.

A centerpiece of Ferebee’s plan to turn around failing schools and growing enrollment is partnering with outside groups and charter schools and to close underused high schools in the next two years.

An insurgency of four candidates -- Ramon Batts, Jim Grim, Christine Prince, Larry Vaughn -- and grassroots groups sought to either slow down or totally derail these plans but were outspent by the incumbents who also enjoyed support from a nationally-supported organization.

The incumbents and Moore who have supported and defended Ferebee. Unlike their challengers, they received a total of tens of thousands of dollar in campaign donations from local donors and support from political advocacy group Stand for Children and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.

Gore was not endorsed by the main groups support the incumbent or the challengers.

Here are the Marion County election board's unofficial results as of Tuesday night:

At-Large -- District wide seat
Elizabeth M. Gore - winner

Jim Grim

Samuel L. Odle

District 1, covering east and southeast side of the district
Michael O'Connor - winner

Christine M. Prince

District 2, covering northeast side of the district
Ramon L. Batts

Nanci E. Lacy

Venita J. Moore - winner

District 4, covering southwest side of district

Diane Arnold - winner

Larry Vaughn

This story will be updated.


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