Sedgwick County seeing an increase in School board seats being contested in upcoming election

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SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Voting for the November general election is underway. This year, there are a lot of school board candidates on the ballot.

In 2019, of the 50 seats up for grabs in Sedgwick County more than half had one or no candidates running. This year there are 22 races, and only three are uncontested.

Political Analyst Dr. Jeff Jarman said the pandemic and the divide over COVID restrictions in schools have brought a lot of attention to local school boards.

“I’m against mask mandates,” said Tennile Holmes, who is running for a seat on the Valley Center School Board.

“I personally like to follow the Sedgwick County guidelines,” said Joe Cowell, who is running for a seat in the Mulvane school district.

“I’m pro-science, and I think it is important that we follow the guidance from the CDC,” said Holly Terrill, who is running for a seat on the USD 259 school board.

The divide over mask mandates in schools is turning into a divide over candidates.

“People run historically for the school board either as an extension of their service to the school district or because they are frustrated about a particular issue,” said Jarman.

Jarman said politics are beginning to play a factor in a non-partisan election.

“But we are also seeing a real rise in the influence of political parties turning these non-partisan elections into partisan referendums that why we have more candidates,” said Jarman.

“I hate the political part they have made this nono political position into or tired it make it into a political party,” said Cowell.

While he refuses to be endorsed by a political party, Cowell knows masks will play a role in the upcoming election.

“I don’t know why there is so much interest in the left and right and so much money being spent outside of Kansas, it’s a non-partisan position,” said Cowell.

Some candidates agree the students have to be the focus.

“We need to make good decisions for the future of our school district,” said Holmes.

“Everyone is paying attention, and they are going to vote closely with the values that are with them,” said Terrill.

Jarman said with the increase in candidates for this election will could also see an increase in people coming out to vote.

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