Denver Democrats Elect New School Board Members

Xóchitl Gaytán and Tay Anderson will lead a slate of Democrats who defeated veteran politicians to take back control of the Denver Public Schools board for the first time in decades. A big-name Democrat…

Denver Democrats Elect New School Board Members

Xóchitl Gaytán and Tay Anderson will lead a slate of Democrats who defeated veteran politicians to take back control of the Denver Public Schools board for the first time in decades. A big-name Democrat also campaigned for their victory.

“I think today we have a culture change,” said Ms. Gaytán, a 36-year-old former city councilor who made her bid in part to fill a seat vacated by an appointee. “Democrats fought and voted. And that’s what changed things.”

Tay Anderson, who advocates for increased funding for African-American schools, defeated Frank McNulty, a long-time conservative legislator, and Polly Baca, a former Democratic state senator, in an election that drew more than 65,000 voters. Four of the seven board members will serve four-year terms, and board member Susan Shepherd, a Republican, resigned Tuesday.

The district, one of the nation’s largest and known for a history of voting among a diverse population that produced two governors in Colorado, Democrats Michael Bennet and Bill Ritter, will see leadership change after a series of controversial decisions over the past four years. In 2009, former school board member John Mossman left his seat amid controversy when he said former President Barack Obama was Muslim.

In 2010, Republican Polly Baca was elected, joined the five-member board by future board members Benson Kee and Kevin Donahue. But they left last year after one year in office, in part because they said the district’s leadership too often promoted policies they opposed.

So too did Jim Geddes, who represented one of the districts, and later abandoned his attempt to become the board’s president. Mr. Geddes went on to form a teacher union and a private charter school with Mr. Geddes.

The Denver Post reported in March that the teachers union had opposed the 2009 appointment of Mr. McNulty, who had been appointed by Republicans at the state Capitol, and felt Mr. McNulty’s friend, outgoing Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, was interfering in the board’s business. Ms. Baca ran as the candidate backed by the teachers union and the Charter School Leadership Academy, a charter group.

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