***11/6 5:30PM UPDATE: Denver Elections are still counting ballots and will continue on 11/7.
Julie Bañuelos has moved into 2nd place in the district 5 race, while Brad Laurvick continues to be in the lead:
Brad Laurvick 7,541 votes 35.73%
Julie Bañuelos 7,006 votes 33.19%
Tony Curcio 6,560 votes 31.08%
Education reform groups spend big but trail union backed candidates.
While election results are still coming in, three candidates supported by the Denver Teachers Union appear to be winning seats on the Denver school board, replacing three board members who leaned more heavily towards education reform and three others who lacked major funding sources. Initial results and the 8:30pm update show Tay Anderson, Brad Laurvick, and Scott Baldermann leading their respective races. If the early returns hold, it will shift the balance of the Denver School Board which has trended more heavily toward Education Reform policies in recent years.
Results as of 8:30pm on 11/5:
Tay Anderson: 33,870 votes 48.59%
Alexis Menocal Harrigan 26,734 votes 38.35%
Natela Manuntseva 9,106 votes 13.06%
Brad Laurvick 4,443 votes 36.2%
Tony Curcio 4,051 votes 33%
Julie Banuelos 3,780 votes 30.8%
Scott Baldermann 10,140 votes 49.55%
Diana Romero Campbell 6,398 votes 31.27%
Radhika Nath 3,925 votes 19.18%
At-Large candidate Tay Anderson said he felt “blessed” seeing the initial results. “I think I’ve shown kids they don’t have to get out of the hood. They just have to give back to the hood.” Anderson said on election night. “This election is a testament to that. Money doesn’t win elections anymore. People do.” Tay said he wanted to thank Denver voters for participating in the election.
The closest of the three races is in North Denver, where Brad Laurvick is leading Tony Curcio and Julie Banuelos 36.2% – 33% – 30.8%
“We’re excited and watching things closely,” Laurvick said after seeing the 8:30 update, but he declined to declare victory. “As I look at the numbers I’m very grateful for the number of doors we knocked on, people we talked to, and relationships we built.” Laurvick said he personally made over 4,000 phone calls in the last 4 days with thousands more calls and knocks from teachers and other supporters. When asked about his priorities if he wins, Laurvick said “Honoring the values we talked about during the campaign and listening to the community’s voice,” along with bringing equity to DPS.
Banuelos’ campaign said they were still watching the results: “We’re the closest race of all 3 and waiting for more results,” Banuelos’ campaign manager Vinnie Cervantes said. “We’re excited it’s a close race. Julie has support of teachers and community members regardless of what endorsements other candidates got.”
Tony Curcio did not return a call for comment.
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association was thrilled seeing the initial results: “It’s an amazing day for public education in Denver,” DCTA President Tiffany Choi said. “It allows us to turn around the conversation of what public schools should look like in Denver. The shift is that we really focused on grassroots more than we had in the past. We know we can never outspend the education reform money that went into races in the past. This time it really was about engaging teachers, parents, and community members so we have a board that’s accountable to its own community.”
Denver’s school board elections have become increasingly expensive in recent years, and this year was no different, with candidates and outside organizations combined likely spending over two million dollars to win three unpaid positions on the Denver School Board. While some campaign finance reports will appear after the election, as of election night spending is already high. While the pro-reform organization Democrats for Education Reform said they were sitting this election out, the similarly named Students for Education Reform Action Committee has led the pack of non-candidate committees with nearly $400,000 in expenditures. The Pro-reform organization Better Schools for a Stronger Colorado has come in a close second with the Denver Teachers Union (DCTA) coming in 3rd. A related organization opposing reform candidates rounded out 4th place.