The highest voter turnout locally in Tuesday’s special election was in Prineville where newcomers are ousting three incumbents on the Crook County School Board.
A slate of candidates calling themselves the “Mama Bears” will represent a majority on the school board when they take their seats in July.
Cheyenne Edgerly, Jessica Brumble and Jennifer Knight won their races on a joint platform of ensuring parental rights in education, rejecting use of critical race theory and protecting children’s innocence. They will make up a majority of the five-person board.
Central Oregon Daily News reached out to them collectively through their Crook County for Better Education organization and individually via phone calls and text messages. We did not heard back from any of them Wednesday.
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We were able to speak with Scott Cooper, who is continuing his term as a member of the Crook County School Board.
“I look forward to working with them. They are joining a board that’s worried about scores, facilities, about where we are going to play all these kids that are turning out for sports,” Cooper said. “There’s plenty of work to be done that doesn’t give way to ideology. It’s just work and the more hands the merrier.”
While Cooper is confident the school board will keep moving ahead by focusing on the things necessary to keep schools running, current school board chair Jessica Ritter, who lost her position, isn’t so sure about the future.
“This race was never about Doug or Patti or I. It was always about the kids and the staff,” Ritter said. “I think a lot of the staff were looking to us to ensure they still had jobs. That is a genuine fear that a lot of them have. I’m really hopeful that reason and goodness will prevail and that our excellent staff will stay in their positions and keep doing the great work that Crook County schools are doing.”
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The school board typically holds a retreat every summer to adopt yearly goals and discuss future planning. The newly-elected school board members will have an opportunity to influence that process when they officially begin in their new positions starting July 1.
Until then, the school district and its staff say they are focused on finishing the current school year strong and celebrating the Class of 2023.