Hot Sheet

Gloves come off in DougCo’s hotly contested school board race

Author: Dan Njegomir - October 19, 2017 - Updated: October 19, 2017

GOP-endorsed DougCo school board candidates, from left, Randy Mills, Ryan Abresch, Debora Scheffel, and Grant Nelson. (DougCo Republicans via Facebook)

Douglas County Republicans have come out swinging following news this week that a national teachers union has contributed $300,000 to an independent expenditure committee supporting a union-friendly slate of school board candidates in the upcoming election. The cash windfall comes from the American Federation of Teachers, whose local affiliate Douglas County Federation of Teachers lost its power to collectively bargain with the Douglas County School District in 2012.

The county GOP announced today it is endorsing the race’s other slate of DougCo school board candidates, who support the district’s current education-reform agenda and are opposed by the union. The DougCo GOP posted a statement from county Chair Tanne Blackburn on its website and Facebook page:

“Today, the Douglas County Republican Party endorsed Randy Mills, Ryan Abresch, Debora Scheffel, and Grant Nelson for the 2017 Douglas County School Board Election. Initially, the candidates requested that the party not become involved because they did not want the race to be about politics. However, after learning of $300,000 in spending on out-of-state political consultants by the DC-based American Federation of Teachers on behalf of the Kevin Leung, Krista Holtzmann, Chris Schor and Anthony Graziano, it appears that the CommUnity Slate/Dream Team is determined to bring big politics into this race.

“We are endorsing to help level the playing field and to expose Leung, Holtzmann, Schor, and Graziano’s deception to our community. They are not conservatives and do not hold Republican values. If you typically check the R box on the ballot, you should vote for Mills, Abresch, Scheffel, and Nelson. We hope all Republicans in Douglas County will join us in support of these four…”

Blackburn added, ““Make no mistake, voting for Leung, Schor, Holtzmann, and Graziano will usher a new wave of radical liberal agenda into our schools. Don’t let our county get shAFTed.” (The upper-case AFT is a reference to the union’s acronym — in case that wasn’t clear.)

The GOP-endorsed slate, which is calling itself Elevate Douglas County, is among other things in favor of implementing the district’s as-yet unimplemented school voucher program, which has been tied up by court challenges for several years.

The union-supported slate, known as the Dream Team, is thought likely to nix the program if elected, mooting the court battle.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.