Incumbents and Michigan lawmaker in battle for top spots in Detroit school board race

Final results likely won’t be available until Wednesday.
Final results likely won’t be available until late Wednesday evening. (Laura Faith Kebede / Chalkbeat)

The race for three open seats on the Detroit school board was still tight Wednesday night, with the three incumbents and one challenger leading a field of 14 candidates.

At 7:03 p.m., the top four vote-getters in the DPSCD board race were Sonya Mays with 66,836 votes, Misha Stallworth with 63,981 votes, Sherry Gay-Dagnogo with 51,499 votes, and Iris Taylor with 49,769 votes.

Final results likely won’t be available until late Wednesday evening. The city clerk’s web site showed more than half of the precincts had not been fully reported.

This is where things stood with the candidates Wednesday night.

  • Richard Carl Clement, 14,908
  • Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, 51,499
  • Bessie Lee Harris, 36,016
  • Elena Herrada, 19,253
  • Zsa Zsa Chantel Hubbard, 18,597
  • Jermain Jones, 21,687
  • LaMar Lemmons, 37,640
  • Terrance Lemmons, 14,659
  • Sonya Mays, 66,836
  • Ida Short, 30,018
  • Chico Frank Sorrell, 10,939
  • Misha Stallworth, 63,981
  • Iris Taylor, 49,769
  • John Telford, 14,992

Mays, Stallworth, and Taylor are the incumbents. Gay-Dagnogo is a current state representative.

The top three vote-getters will take office in January, and will serve on the board until 2024. 

Fourteen candidates are competing for three, four-year spots. Challenging the incumbents is a field that includes retired educators, community activists, and former school board members. The three incumbents are running as “The Achievement” slate and are backed by donations from some of the city’s high-powered political and business leaders

The election comes as the Detroit district navigates the obstacles of an unprecedented school year in the era of pandemic learning. School officials project an enrollment decline of about 3,000 students and rising chronic absenteeism. Education experts warn that students may have substantial learning loss due to the shift to remote instruction. And virtual learning remains a struggle for students and teachers who’ve complained of too much screen time, which may be eroding overall social and emotional health and wellness. 

The stakes are high. The school board approves budgets and establishes policies for the state’s largest school district, which serves nearly 50,000 students. Chief among its duties: The board will decide whether it’s safe to continue holding in-person classes if rates of positive coronavirus cases increase. School boards must reapprove their reopening plans every month, a requirement under a recent bi-partisan legislative deal

Last week, the Detroit Financial Review Commission approved a waiver to release the Detroit district from financial oversight after years of state control.

This story will be updated as more votes are counted.

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