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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Two of three challengers in contentious Central Valley school board election overtake long-time incumbents

Candidates for Central Valley School Board Director in District 1, incumbent Cindy McMullen and Jeff Brooks. McMullen won the race.  (Courtesy)

Two longtime Central Valley School Board members lost their re-election bids in last week’s vote.

Debra Long, who has served five terms on the board, and Keith Clark, who has served four terms, lost close races, according to ballot counting on Monday.

But voters endorsed another term for incumbent of 32 years, Cindy McMullen, who won her race, Monday election results indicate.

“This is the first one that’s really been a contested election,” McMullen said on election night. She has faced five opposing candidates in her three decades in office.

With nearly all ballots counted, McMullen garnered 51% of the votes against conservative challenger Jeff Brooks.

McMullen is the only CV incumbent to win her race. The retired lawyer is the most progressive out of the trio seeking to retain their seat, supporting levy renewals from property taxes, gender inclusive schools policies and comprehensive sex education.

Brooks opposed levy renewals.

The challenger in District 4, Anniece Barker, won 51.7% of the votes against Clark, the current board president , the largest lead in the three races. Barker led the charge on a 2020 campaign to add referendums to ballots seeking to overturn state comprehensive sex education mandates.

In District 3, Stephanie Jerdon narrowly ousted Long with 50.7% of the votes. Jerdon is a former elementary school teacher who campaigned on increased transparency and local control.

This year’s election results upset the current ideological makeup of the board. Board member Pam Orebaugh ran as a conservative in 2021, opposing mask mandates. She will be joined by Barker and Jerdon, giving conservatives a 3-2 majority on the previously moderate board.

Paige Van Buren contributed to this report.