Grant, Lentz, Brydon win Portland School Board seats; school budget passes

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After a ranked-choice runoff Wednesday morning, leading candidates Benjamin Grant and Sarah Lentz were elected to two at-large seats on the Portland School Board and Sarah Brydon won the District 5 seat.

Voters on Tuesday also decisively ratified the School Department’s fiscal year 2023 budget, voting by a 3-to-1 margin for the $133.1 million budget proposed by the School Board.

All three candidates led after the polls closed Tuesday night, but none of them had more than 50 percent of the vote, which would have made the instant runoff unnecessary. Brydon came closest with 49 percent.

Grant ended up beating Lentz to the first seat with 4,870 votes after the second round of runoffs, according to unofficial results from the city clerk’s office. Lentz took the second at-large seat with 4,045 votes after six rounds of runoffs. Brydon ended up with the largest lead of any candidate after the fifth round of runoffs in the District 5 race with 1,195 votes.

Election 2022 logoGrant and Lentz ultimately received 56 percent and 55 percent of the at-large votes, respectively, and Brydon had almost 70 percent of the District 5 votes.

All three candidates have praised the recent racial equity progress made by the School Board and School Department and said they hope to continue that work.

Other candidates were critical of the board, citing a lack of adequate communication and transparency and a failure to bring different perspectives to the discussion. But none of those candidates came close to the number of votes received by the winners.

The closest runner-up in the at-large election was Stacey Hang with 14 percent of the vote. Joshua Haefele trailed Brydon in District 5, with 19 percent of the votes. 

There were seven candidates on the ballot for the two at-large School Board seats and five for the seat representing District 5.

Going into Wednesday’s instant runoff, Lentz led the at-large field with 3,468 votes (36 percent), followed by Grant with 2,378 votes (25 percent). Hang, Stephanie Albert, Kimberly Mancini, Amber Shertz, and Richard Ward trailed.

Brydon nearly won the District 5 seat outright, with 950 votes, followed by Haefele, Elizabeth Capone-Newton, Lou Viola, and Barbara Goglin.

The board has had three open seats since last fall when former board members Roberto Rodriguez and Anna Trevorrow were elected to the City Council and District 5 representative Jeffrey Irish resigned.

The at-large seats are for six-month terms, with an opportunity for reelection in November. The District 5 seat has a two-year term.

Grant, Lentz, and Brydon will be sworn in Tuesday, June 21, at 6 p.m.

School budget

In the school budget validation referendum, 6,662 votes (75 percent) were cast in favor of the proposed budget; 2,154 (25 percent) were opposed.

The City Council Finance Committee wanted the School Board to reduce the proposed budget by $1 million, but councilors eventually relented.

The budget is up just over 5 percent from this year’s $126.5 million and includes additional spending to improve racial equity by supporting English language learners and special education programs.

Voters also decided to maintain the budget validation referendum process, which means it will remain on ballots for another three years; 5,802 (68 percent) were in favor, and 2,780 (33 percent) were opposed.

This story was updated at noon on June 15 with instant runoff results.

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