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Forsyth Board of Education maintains 5-4 Democrat majority; Miller finishes second as Elrod replacement

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The political bent of the Forsyth County Board of Education came down to Democrats maintaining their hold on the board’s three at-large seats.

According to complete but unofficial results Tuesday, the Democrats did just that, and will maintain a 5-4 advantage on the board for the next four years.

Democrats ran unopposed for the board’s two District 1 seats.

Republicans, meanwhile, swept the four seats in the GOP-leaning District 2.

All three incumbents won re-election: Democrat chairwoman Deanna Kaplan in the at-large race; Democrat Alex Bohannon in District 1; and Republican Leah Crowley in District 2.

All three Republicans in the race contacted by the Journal expressed optimism that the new members would be able to work together even with divergent stances on key local issues.

Kaplan was the top at-large vote-getter, receiving 65,697 votes (18%). Democrats Sabrina Coone-Godfrey with 64,206 votes (17.6%) and Richard Watts with 64,141 votes (17.6%) completed the Democratic at-large sweep.

“I am grateful with the outcome of the election,” Kaplan said. “Now, we can continue with the important work of giving our children the best education possible.”

Coone-Godfrey said she is “incredibly thankful for the support of the voters in Forsyth County, It is truly an honor, and I am excited to serve our district.”

Watts said that "I think voters wanted representation with experience and knowledge of public education. The community wanted voices to represent those who have a passion and zeal for schools, staff and students."

"I will work to honor the legacy of my colleague and friend, Mr. Stan Elrod."

The top Republican vote-getter in the at-large race was Sarah Absher with 55,255 votes (15.1%), followed by Allen Daniel with 53,219 votes (14.6%) and Michael Hardman with 52,999 votes (14.6%). Libertarian Regina Garner had 9,309 votes (2.5%).

Crowley was the top vote-getter in District 2 at 21.9% and 60,967 votes.

“I will continue to do my best in representing students, staff and families in an effort to have the best public school education possible,” Crowley said.

“I’d like to believe it was about the work I’ve put in over the past four years: being an active participant in all meetings; helping at schools; listening to students, parents, and staff; responding to hundreds of emails; and tutoring.

“All this activity helped me be a more informed board member and make better, balanced decisions,” Crawley said.

Republican Susan Miller, who replaced the late Stan Elrod, finished second in District 2 with 56,454 votes (20.3%). Republican Robert Barr finished third at 20.2% and 56,323 votes, and Republican Steve Wood fourth at 19.6% and 54,630 votes to round out the District 2 winners.

Democrat Jennifer Castillo, the losing candidate in District 2, had 17.9% and 49,999 votes.

Elrod died unexpectedly on Oct. 25, after early voting had begun. Elrod’s name remained on the ballot, per state law, with any vote cast for him going to Miller as the replacement unanimously chosen by the executive committee of the county Republican Party.

Miller benefited not only from early voters who cast their ballots for Elrod, the former principal at Reynolds and Reagan high schools, but also gained the recommendation of the Forsyth County Association of Educators.

“I am grateful and honored to have the confidence of Forsyth County voters,” Miller said.

“We will never know how much the early Elrod votes were,” Miller said. “However, I did run a strong and solid primary campaign, so my name was already out there.”

Barr said he believes school board decisions “will be student- and parent-focused. I believe every person who serves on the board will be student focused.”

“However, I do regret not being able to serve with other candidates that I worked with that are student-focused as well, and who worked extremely hard on their campaigns.”

Absher appeared to be the foremost candidate attempting to interject national educational issues into the at-large school board race.

“I believe the government does not co-parent with us. ... I will ensure critical race theory and critical gender theory are not in our classrooms,’ Absher said during the campaign.

“As an RN, I have the knowledge and ability to push back when ‘public health’ is weaponized against our children, like it was during COVID. Our schools should have never been closed.”

Absher cited her concerns with the school board contracting with third-party curriculum companies to meet state standards related to social emotional learning.

In District 1, Bohannon had 51% and 19,582 votes and Trevonia Brown-Gaither with 49% and 18,743 votes. District 1 covers Forsyth’s urban core.

Bohannon was elected to his first full term. In 2021, he was appointed to fill the seat of Barbara Burke, who left the school board to fill an unexpired term on the Winston-Salem City Council.

Brown-Gaither fills the seat of Malishai Woodbury, who stepped aside to run in what was ultimately a successful campaign for Forsyth commissioner.



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