BY TOM BARRY
Election judges process ballots at the Arapahoe County Election Warehouse.Photo by Tom Barry
Once again, every vote counts—especially in an incredibly close election.
The tight race for Colorado Board of Education in the 6th Congressional District ended two weeks after Election Day when Democratic challenger Rebecca McClellan finally received a concession phone call this week from incumbent Republican Deborah Scheffel, who at press time trailed McClellan in the tally by 1,260 votes.
“Ever since Friday, we have thought that this was a pretty insurmountable lead,” McClellan said. “I thank [Scheffel] for her years of service on the Board of Education and for running a positive campaign, so voters could think about the contrast of ideas rather than negative attacks. … I think that helped voters to be able to make a clear choice in … a difficult election year.”
Scheffel agreed, calling the contest a “great race.”
“I enjoyed serving for six years and I think Rebecca will have a great opportunity now to represent the 6th CD. I know the people in the state of Colorado will continue to expect the very best from our public-educational system,” she said.
Scheffel and/or the Republican Party could have requested a recount at their own expense. The estimated cost would have been more than $50,000.
Since Election Day, the fluctuating vote count had seen both contenders leading at various times, noted the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Immediately following the election, Scheffel was ahead in Adams and Douglas counties, while McClellan was leading in Arapahoe.
“We certify the ballot on Dec. 8, but a lot of people have been the winner since the night of the election,” said Lynn Bartels, the office spokeswoman.
The counties must send in their official results by Nov. 25, she added.
The wild cards have included military and overseas voters.
Nov. 14 was the deadline for voters to verify signatures or “cure” contested ballots.
Adding to confusion have been provisional ballots that were provided to voters when the election system went down for a half hour on Election Day.
“What you have when you have a close race is you have both sides chase these ballots,” Bartels said.
By Nov. 21, McClellan had announced a victory party on Facebook.
Rebecca McClellan speaks to supporters in Aurora on election night. She won the tightly contested race for the Colorado Board of Education by 1,260 votes.Photo by Peter Jones
“I’m betting that everybody that is working at each of the clerk’s offices is probably getting a little tired by now,” she said. “I know they are working hard to make sure that everybody can have their vote counted. … I will say it’s exciting. I really thought everything would be over on Tuesday night because that’s usually what happens.”
The Board of Education wields strong influence on Colorado’s K-12 public schools. The board oversees and implements programs and policies ranging from the accreditation of schools and teachers to carrying out legislation enacted by the Colorado legislature.
The incoming board will implement the federally mandated Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. The newer law provides school districts and the states more flexibility.
This will be the first time since 1968 that the seven-member State Board of Education has had a Democratic majority. This 6th District seat has been held for the last four years by Scheffel, a veteran educator and administrator who serves in both capacities at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood.
McClellan, a small-business owner served on the Centennial City Council for eight years.
McClellan said that her campaign raised and spent approximately $52,000 during her 15-month campaign efforts. Scheffel spent far less, approximately $15,000.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman handily defeated Democratic challenger state Sen. Morgan Carroll in the same expansive “purple” 6th District that encompasses the counties of Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas.
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