If initial results hold, Democrats’ winning streak in Bend elections will continue.
All four Democrat-endorsed Bend-La Pine School Board candidates — incumbent Carrie McPherson Douglass and newcomers Marcus LeGrand, Janet Sarai Llerandi and Shirley Olson — held commanding leads over their Republican-endorsed opponents in early, unofficial election results Tuesday night.
School board races are nominally nonpartisan, but this year’s Bend-La Pine School Board races were more politically charged than ever before.
McPherson Douglass, with nearly 70% of the vote, appeared to defeat challenger Maria Lopez-Dauenhauer, who had about 30% of the vote, in early results Tuesday night.
“I’m excited to go back to work and focus on making up for lost learning and the mental health needs of our students,” said McPherson Douglass.
LeGrand, with about 65% of the vote, also appeared to beat his challenger, Wendy Imel, who had about 35% of the vote in early results.
Olson held about 66% of the vote, seemingly defeating Gregg Henton, who had about 34% of the vote in early results.
The closest race was between Llerandi and Jon Haffner. But Llerandi still held a strong lead in early returns Tuesday night, with nearly 60% of the vote compared to about 38% for Haffner.
Llerandi said she was excited to join the school board and get up to speed.
“Thank you to all the voters; thank you for believing in me and for voting for transparency, honesty and the kids,” she said.
LeGrand shied away from declaring victory after the initial results dropped.
“I just want things to be finalized completely,” he said. “But I’m still hopeful.”
Olson felt similarly.
“I’m looking good, and I feel good about that,” she said. “But no final response until every vote’s counted.”
The two competing slates of candidates were each supported by a separate political action committee. However, the PAC that supported Republican-endorsed candidates spent much more money.
“I think tonight’s results show that our community demonstrated it’s not money, but voters, who decide elections,” said McPherson Douglass.
The Republican-backed candidates had extremely minimal, or no, contact with local media and refused to participate in the local nonpartisan candidate forum. However, they did chat with nonlocal conservative pundits, including Lars Larson and multiple Fox News commentators.