Westminster school board election results: Union-backed slate wins three seats

Three women stand in separate pictures against an outdoor backdrop.

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A slate of three candidates backed by the teachers union was winning the Westminster school board election, according to results Tuesday evening. The slate includes incumbent Christine Martinez and newcomers Audrey Yanos and Mary Beth Murphy.

Three of five Westminster school board seats were up for grabs in this election. It was the first contested board election in the 8,000-student district north of Denver in six years.

The trailing candidates include three newcomers who also ran as a slate: Anthony Sisneros and husband-and-wife team Charles and Brenda Gallegos.

The winning candidates were gathered with supporters at Los 3 Garcias restaurant when the preliminary results came in around 7:20 p.m. Tuesday evening. There were “lots of woo-hoos,” said Martinez, who is vice president of a local property management company and the mother of a seventh-grader in the district.

She said Tuesday’s results show voters agreed with her slate’s belief that the district is moving in the right direction.

Murphy, a retired teacher who has four adult children, said she heard from many of the voters she texted in recent days that they appreciated how positive the slate’s campaign was.

“No matter what else came out, we never got down in the mud,” she said.

Yanos, an operations supervisor at a healthcare nonprofit and the mother of three children in the district, said, “We weren’t a doom and gloom slate,”

The school district will face a leadership transition in the coming year, with the district’s longtime superintendent, Pam Swanson, set to retire next summer. In October, the board named Deputy Superintendent Jeni Gotto as her successor.

The next school board will also likely grapple with continuing enrollment declines, which have forced several Denver area districts to consider school closures or consolidations in recent years. Between 2016 and 2021, the district lost more than 1,400 students — a 15% drop.

Martinez said she’s eager to see Westy Futures, a sports program for K-8 students, continue, and the planned conversion of a middle school to new career and technical education space move forward.

Yanos, an avid gardener, said she wants to help expand the district’s horticulture program with an eye toward incorporating lessons on climate change and sustainability.

Murphy, who is director of the Central Adams UniServ Unit, an organization that supports four local teachers unions, said she didn’t come to the race with any specific agenda.

“Every decision I make will be based on what’s best for our kids and community,” she said.

Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat, covering early childhood issues and early literacy. Contact Ann at aschimke@chalkbeat.org.

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