It appears long-term incumbent Micheal Daugherty was ousted from the Little Rock School Board after five terms Tuesday night, a loss for the teachers union that supported him. But teacher union members in Pulaski County seemed headed to two big victories and ouster of two school board members who had opposed recognition of the union.
Here are results on the contested races for seats on the Little Rock and Pulaski County School Boards. Union forces got their voters out early in Pulaski County and produced big margins in the early and absentee voting that held up through the evening.
The Little Rock race was lightly voted, a reflection of a curiously low-key campaign, marked mostly by the support of prominent surrogates in a race that split some leading figures in the black community in a board zone that is majority black. Though official union leadership backed Daugherty, it was evident that the membership wasn't unified on the selection and showed in the light canvassing done in his behalf. Much of the district stayed home. The total vote wasn't even a fourth of the vote three years ago.
The votes, with "I" denoting the incumbent, are unofficial and all but complete at 9:14 p.m.
14 of 14 precincts
Michael Nellums 371
Micheal Daugherty (I) 271
11 of 12 precincts
Gloria Lawrence 1,080
Charlie Wood (I) 364
9 of 9 precincts
Tom Stuthard 515
Danny Gilliland (I) 365
In Little Rock, Daugherty, a five-term Board member, was supported by the Little Rock teachers union and supported extending the contract of Superintendent Linda Watson, who'll likely be out of a job at the end of this year. The Board has voted 4-3 against extending her contract, in its third year. Nellums is a high school principal in the neighboring Pulaski district and has had scrapes with teacher unions in the past. He finished a distant third for this seat in 2007. Significantly, civil rights attorney John Walker, who'd backed Daugherty in 2007, backed Nellums this time as did many of his associates. Conversely, some leading figures in the community — former Sen. Bill Walker, Sen.-elect Linda Chesterfield, Sen. Tracy Steele and Bishop Steven Arnold — were seen in Daugherty's camp and, particularly, Watson's camp. Much discussion centered on whether interests in the race on Daugherty's side were related to job decisions Watson is able to make. Walker has been unhappy with her leadership in improving achievement of black children.
In Pulaski County, Wood and Gilliland have been stout foes of the union and have led the effort to negate their contract with the School District, a 4-3 split that now seems likely turn to 5-2 in favor of the teachers on at least some issues. Stuthard and Lawrence were backed by the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers and campaigned for an end to the turmoil that has rocked the district, including devastating audits and corruption charges. Lawrence is herself a retired teacher.
Note on voter enthusiasm: 2,705 votes were cast in the runoff for the Little Rock seat in 2007, a hotly contested race pitting Daugherty against Anna Swaim.
Noted also: Voters in two of the three county districts (there were no contested races in North Little Rock) were giving approval to school millages. Voters were split slightly against in Pulaski County . Since no increases were on the ballot, the existing tax rate was to stay in effect regardless, but the votes didn't reflect a particular anti-tax attitude as they sometimes do, particularly in the Pulaski district.
STATE NOTE: Despite ceaseless Tea Party yanmering, Fayetteville voters seem headed to passage of a tax increase, at least if early voting is an indication. But apparently there are dramatic differences in neighborhood voting patterns there, so .... Tax vote trailing in Springdale.