Union-backed candidates win many Iowa school board seats

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Candidates backed by Iowa’s largest teachers union did well in the first school board elections since Republican lawmakers and the Branstad/Reynolds administration scrapped meaningful collective bargaining rights for public workers.

In the Iowa’s largest county, all of the winners in the Des Moines, Ankeny, Urbandale, and Southeast Polk school districts had been endorsed by locals of the Iowa State Education Association. (The same was true in West Des Moines, but that local supported all four candidates seeking the three at-large seats.) The Ankeny win was even sweeter because Susan Gentz, backed by some heavy-hitter local Republicans, finished a distant fifth in a race for three at-large seats.

Elsewhere in the Des Moines metro area, union-backed candidates won two of the three Johnston school board seats and one of four at-large seats in the heavily Republican suburb of Waukee. One of the ISEA-endorsed winners in Carlisle, Cody Woodruff, is a sophomore at Iowa State University and replaces Drake University undergraduate Josh Hughes as Iowa’s youngest school board member.

All four school board winners in Iowa City also had the union endorsement. A contentious campaign over a $191.5 million bond issue drove turnout through the roof; 16,700 voters cast ballots, far above the previous record-high turnout of 13,139 for an Iowa City school bond election. The bond passed with about 65 percent support.

Former Democratic State Senator Tom Courtney, a surprise victim of last year’s Republican wave, won a write-in campaign for a school board seat in Burlington. The other seats on that board also went to ISEA-backed candidates.

The ISEA Twitter feed is full of congratulations for candidates who won school board seats in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Mason City, Ottumwa, Cedar Falls, Linn-Mar (Cedar Rapids suburbs).

In Fairfield, union-backed candidates defeated social conservatives who had campaigned against a district policy allowing students

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