OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — School Board races in Johnson County, Kansas, were more partisan this year than previous elections.
Slates of candidates ran together in both Olathe and Blue Valley representing Democratic and Republican ideals.
Though races are nonpartisan, voters were encouraged to vote along more traditional party lines. It set the stage for one side to gain control of each school board.
The more moderate or liberal candidates outpaced the conservative block by roughly a 60-40% margin in most races and claimed all available seats on both school boards.
In the Blue Valley School District, four school board races seemed to drive voter turnout.
“I think it’s an important time to be on top of what’s happening with the schools,” Laurie Wood said.
Blue Valley candidates paired up in their campaigns encouraging voters to vote for all candidates sharing either more liberal or conservative ideals with the slates calling themselves the A + Team and Blue Valley Excellence.
“I had not seen that before that was interesting, but I had one of the candidates come by my home and she’s the one that told me how that was working and they had banded together and had similar opinions,” Jane Burgett said.
A group of political newcomers known as Blue Valley Excellence said they wanted to get back to the basics of education and campaigned against gender ideology and critical race theory saying it has no place in schools.
“Critical race theory and all that stuff I don’t think that’s accurate in the way they are perceiving it. And I’d rather see things that are good for kids instead of spending all their time arguing about three books in the library,” Wood said.
Christine Vasquez, Mike Huebner, Rachel Faagatu and Trisha Hamilton said they wanted to improve test scores and bring more respect to the classroom.
But more voters agreed with incumbents Patrick Hurley, Jodie Dietz, Jan Kessinger and new candidate Clay Norkey. The A + Team said it was in favor of a well-rounded education. They also said student achievement should be measured by more than just test scores.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence they need to change anything right now, just keep on doing what they are doing. It’s a great school district,” Carl Luecke said.