Lessons Learned from the 2019 Douglas County School Board Election

By Elizabeth Wood West 

Franceen Thompson, Andy Jones, and Kory Nelson are three intelligent, involved, and committed Douglas County parents who ran for this year’s Douglas County School Board (DCSB).

Each candidate had compelling reasons for running and solid platforms that detailed how they would make a positive impact, if elected.  They and their supporters worked hard, spread their comprehensive campaign materials all over Douglas County, and engaged voters in vital discussions every chance they got. Unfortunately, none of the three candidates were elected.

Candidate Jones said, “It was so special and important to meet people and canvass in Castle Pines.  Between my advertising in the Castle Pines community in October, waiving at American Academy parents and students twice, hanging out with the “power” crowd at Starbucks, and walking at least six different neighborhoods, I feel like I really made a connection with the people of Castle Pines.  I will be really interested when the final numbers come out and the precinct returns show that I moved the needle in Castle Pines.”

In an attempt to understand what happened in the 2019 DCSB election, take a look back at the 2018 election:  Two Douglas County School District bond issues were passed and new DCSB members were elected.  Many grandiose promises were made, but what has been the outcome?

Some of the promises remain unfulfilled and there is a distinct rift between frustrated parents and the DCSB.  Fast-forward six months later to the tragic STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in May, which sent a shockwave through our community; not just because of its sheer horror and profound sadness, but because it revealed stunning vulnerabilities and flaws in the school district’s approach to mental health and safety.

With this significant backdrop in mind for 2019’s election, one would expect that many voters would be looking for different leadership for the DCSB.  So why did the other candidates win?

One possible reason is that Douglas County is experiencing unprecedented growth, and we have many new Democrat and unaffiliated voters from Democrat-controlled cities and states moving here, bringing progressive ideology with them.

It will be instructive to examine the Douglas County voter turnout numbers and find out how Democrats, unaffiliated, and Republicans voted.  Another likely reason the other candidates won is because of the support from the Douglas County teachers’ union and the Douglas County Parents political committee.

With the 2019 election over, what lessons can we apply in preparation for the 2020 election?

Here are some suggestions:

First, we should agree on what our mission is – victory in all Republican races!

Second, let us rededicate ourselves to the mission by unifying and setting aside any differences that could hinder our mission.

Third, we should review our strengths and weaknesses, and act on them accordingly.

Fourth, we need to be informed on the issues, candidates, Republican platform, and our founding documents.

Lastly, we need to engage our family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, social media contacts, and others in our spheres of influence with our party’s ideas and solutions.

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.  I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.” ― Thomas Paine