DENVER – In one of the more contentious school board races pitting labor unions against conservative reform candidates, voters won’t know if their ballots will be counted for Amy Speers, a union-bankrolled Adams 12 Five Star School District candidate who was disqualified.
Speers was deemed ineligible to run for the district 4 school board seat because she does not reside in the district. District 4 encompasses parts of Adams and Broomfield counties, but those county clerks hadn’t decided Monday whether or not they would count votes for Speers.
Though the school district administration notified the county clerks that Speers was disqualified, the candidate has not officially withdrawn – and there lies a legal problem.
If Speers voluntarily withdraws Tuesday, her votes will not be counted. Unknown is whether the school district can forcibly withdraw her name.
“The statute doesn’t seem to clearly address how to do this,” Broomfield County Clerk and Recorder Jim Candelarie told The Denver Post.
Opponents argue that Speers announced that her candidacy had been disqualified on her Facebook page – but Speers also urged supporters to vote for her.
“I appreciate the confidence and support that the voters have given me,” she said. “And it is important that they know their votes are being counting and their voices are heard.”
“Even though I cannot take office, the votes cast for me make a statement,” declared Speers.
Speers had signed an affidavit confirming that she was eligible to run for the director district they intend to represent, according to a statement issued by Adams 12 Five Star School District.
“An oversight was made, and the candidate’s residency was not verified,” conceded the school district which plans to adopt measures to ensure every candidate is checked.
“The mistake made by the District is an unfortunate oversight,” said Dorian DeLong, president of the District 12 Educators Association (DTEA) union, in an email to union members.
“We ask that any member who has not yet cast their ballot do so, and cast it in favor of Amy,” DeLong implored because votes for Speers will hold her opponent Rico Figueroa “accountable for his incendiary comments about our association and your colleagues” in the union.
DeLong told EdNews Colorado that he is investigating whether there are alternatives to get around the disqualification of Speers.
“We’re currently exploring… to see if there’s any other option,” said DeLong. “This is uncharted territory.”
Speers garnered more than $36,608 of in-kind contributions from the CEA Small Donor Committee and District 12 Educators Association political action committee. The unions paid for campaign political consultants, a logo design, palm cards and writing, designing and printing brochures and mailers. In contrast, Speers raised just $2,659 in individual cash contributions.
“We’re disappointed but not surprised that the DTEA is s dedicated to stopping reform that they’ve hastily invested tens of thousands in (Speers), a candidate that does not even meet the minimum requirements to serve,” said Michelle Lyng of the Adams County Reform Project.
“In their relentless pursuit of control of the Adams 12 school board, the DTEA has done a grave disservice to their cause,” said Lyng.
“We extend our congratulations to Rico on his victory,” declared Lyng. “We’re pleased he can continue the fight for reform on behalf of every student and parent in the district.”
Figueroa’s victory now might hinge on whether Speers officially withdraws.