Long-time Central Valley School Board member Debra Long lost her lead Friday in her bid to retain her seat, putting more conservative candidates on a path for winning the majority on the board.
Still, the race is too close to call, and there are about 3,100 votes left to count in the Central Valley School District.
Long’s challenger, Stephanie Jerdon, was leading by 304 votes after Friday’s count. Long led by 220 votes after the first tally of votes on Tuesday.
If Jerdon’s lead holds, Long would be one of two CV incumbents defeated in Tuesday’s election.
Long was first elected to the board in 2003.
Jerdon is a former teacher who works at the Liberty Lake library. She has three children, two who graduated from CV schools and another who still attends.
Incumbent Keith Clark lost to Anniece Barker, who was leading the race by 886 votes after Friday’s count. Clark was first elected to the board in 2007. Barker has four children who attend Central Valley Schools and spearheaded the campaign to add a referendum to 2020 ballots seeking to overturn legislation that required comprehensive sex education in public schools.
Incumbent Cindy McMullen was holding on to her lead over Jeff Brooks by 529 votes. Brooks was the only candidate in the three Central Valley races who said he opposed the district’s levy.
The incumbents ran as a team, arguing that their experience has helped maintain quality education in Spokane County’s second-largest school district. The challengers argued that the incumbents had ignored parental rights and didn’t fight hard enough against state mandates, like for comprehensive sex education.
If Jerdon defeats Long, the majority serving on the Central Valley board would switch to be more conservative-leaning. Even so, the incumbents are not easily defined politically. Long, for instance, voted against adopting the district’s sex education curriculum because she thought parents should have to opt-in their children rather than opt-out.