Conservative school board candidates overwhelmingly lose at Summit polls

Conservative school board candidates who ran on anti-mask and anti-diversity, equity and inclusion efforts overwhelmingly lost their election bids Tuesday across Summit County.

More: Conservative challengers surge as a third of school board members in Summit County not running

That trend held in the Hudson, Green, Stow-Munroe Falls, Copley-Fairlawn, Cuyahoga Falls, Nordonia Hills and Woodridge school districts, according to the Summit County Board of Elections' unofficial results.

Norton is an exception to local race trend

Norton, where Patrick Burch was elected with 1,251 votes (19.52%), appeared to be the one outlier.

Burch's website states he will "stand on my Christian, conservative values for every decision made while also protecting our students from divisive, anti-American curriculum."

Hudson board members keep seats in face of mayor's outcry

In Hudson, incumbents Steve DiMauro, Alisa Wright and David Zuro were reelected in the race against conservative challengers Diane Demuynck and Mark Justice.

With all 24 precincts reporting, Wright garnered 5,051 votes (25.15%), DiMauro received 4,501 (22.41%), Zuro had 4,417 (21.99%), Justice garnered 3,140 (15.64%) and Demuynck received 2,974 (14.8%).

Their victory came despite Mayor Craig Shubert's calls for the entire board's resignation over high school course material that he likened to "child pornography."

More: Hudson school board race heads down homestretch in turbulent year

Both Demuynck and Justice were in favor of more review of books and academic materials, and were anti-mask.

Hudson's current mask mandate runs until Nov. 15.

Three finish at bottom of field of seven in Green

In Green, the lowest three finishers — Todd Hart, Shawn McDaniel and Mindy Robey — were the most conservative candidates in the field of seven who were running for three seats.

Hart finished with 1,200 votes (12.90%), McDaniel with 1,135 (12.20%) and Robey with 477 votes (5.13%), compared to top vote getters Bob Campbell with 1,865 votes (20.04%), Katie Stoynoff with 1,748 votes (18.79%) and Sally Fanelly with 1,644 votes (17.67%). Max Miller came in fourth with 1,236 votes (13.28%).

Stow board member who criticized DEI efforts is unseated

Stow-Munroe Falls conservative incumbent Gerry Bettio was unseated, coming in last place in a field of four. Bettio has been a vocal opponent of the district's DEI Committee, was investigated this summer regarding an alleged physical altercation with the chair of that committee, and previously stated that it was not the district's job to address racism.

More: Whose job is it to teach kids about racism? Stow-Munroe Falls school board members disagree

Two seats were available, and with 2,223 votes (17.83%) Bettio trailed second place finisher Jon Leissler by 1,221 votes.

The first place finisher was psychologist Pamela Wind who earned 3,732 votes (29.93%), and has been the most vocal supporter of DEI initiatives among the candidates. Leissler had 3,444 votes (27.62%), and Gary Paskey came in third with 3,071 (24.63%).

Three in Copley-Fairlawn district hold off more conservative bids

In Copley-Fairlawn, incumbents Jim Borchik and Paula Lynn were reelected, and newcomer Beth T. Hertz also was elected over some candidates who had campaigned on harder-line conservative platforms.

Borchik finished first with 2,238 votes (24.26%), Hertz had 1,962 votes (21.27%) and Lynn had 1,840 votes (19.95%). Meanwhile Greg Hazlett, who was endorsed by the Summit County GOP, came in fourth with 1,319 votes (14.30%), Lori Pavlik in fifth with 1,048 votes (11.36%) and Mandy Staudt trailed with 818 votes (8.87%).

Cuyahoga Falls board member drops to last place in race

In the Cuyahoga Falls school board race, Betty Sprague was a conservative candidate who also lost. She previously stated that many parents felt strongly against mask mandates, vaccine mandates and Critical Race Theory, and that she wanted to "stand up for the parents' right to choose what's best for them and their family."

More: At least three new Cuyahoga Falls School Board members will be elected

Sprague came in last place with 3,058 votes (18.96%) in a field of four in which the top three were elected. The winning candidates were within a 4 percentage point margin of one another, with Anthony D. Gomez's 4,641 votes (28.77%), Carrie Schaefer's 4,394 votes (27.24%) and Alecia Coco's 4,037 votes (25.03%).

Sprague trailed Coco by 979 votes.

Race for last Nordonia Hills seat has slim 55-vote margin

The two most conservative candidates in Nordonia Hills — Tim Ellis and Joseph Kopec — did not finish among the top three in Tuesday's unofficial results. Ellis, however, finished in fourth separated by only 55 votes, or less than a half-percent of all votes cast — from third place-winner Jason L. Tidmore Sr.

That margin puts the race for the third seat in too-close-to-call territory, leaving open the possibility that the contest could swing in Ellis' favor after all provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots are counted 11 days after the election.

Amy Vajdich came in first with 3,794 votes (21.97%), Matt Kearney in second with 3,629 votes (21.01%) and Tidmore in third with 3,436 votes (19.90%).

Ellis had 3,381 votes (19.58%) and Kopec had 3,030 votes (17.54%).

Woodridge conservative slate loses

In Woodridge, Alissa Taylor, Kelly Loudin and Valerie McGee ran a joint campaign and were endorsed by the Summit County Republican Party.

They were also the lowest three vote-getters out of a field of six for three seats.

Taylor came in fourth place with 1,207 votes (14.37%), Loudin came in fifth with 1,144 votes (13.62%) and McGee came in sixth with 1,050 votes (12.5).

Incumbent Tammy Heffernan came in first with 1,807 votes (21.51%), followed by levy committee chair Scott A. Karlo with 1,664 votes (19.8%) and incumbent David. G. Lydic with 1,530 votes (18.21%).

Tracking party endorsements for school board candidates

While local school board elections are officially nonpartisan races, candidates are no strangers to endorsements from political parties.

Democrats were nine for nine on school board endorsements with wins in Cuyahoga Falls, Nordonia Hills, Twinsburg, Woodridge and Stow-Munroe Falls.

Tom Bevan, chair of the Summit County Party, said an endorsement was given only if sought by the candidate. The party sent out mailers that covered school board, judicial and municipal endorsements in communities served by the Stow Municipal Court, where a Republican judge and Democrat clerk of courts were reelected Tuesday.

Republicans were more broadly endorsed in local school board races, and fared worse. In competitive contests not including too-close-to-call races, the Summit GOP went six for 24, getting mixed results in Nordonia Hills, Stow, Norton and Tallmadge while all Republican-backed candidates lost in Hudson, Woodridge, Copley-Fairlawn, Green, Twinsburg and Springfield.

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ. Beacon Journal reporters Doug Livingston, Phil Keren, April Helms and Stephanie Warsmith contributed.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Summit County voters reject most conservative school board candidates