2 incumbents trail in Clark County School Board races

Irene Cepeda, left, Danielle Ford, right. (Las Vegas Review-Journal/Danielle Ford)

Preliminary results for Clark County School Board races showed two incumbents trailing and one emerging as a front-runner for the three seats up for grabs.

If elected, candidates will serve on a seven-member board that oversees the fifth-largest school district in the country, serving more than 300,000 students.

The school board race is nonpartisan and open to all voters. Unless one candidate receives a majority of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, the two candidates with the most votes will face off in the general election on Nov. 8.

Totals from early Wednesday morning only included the mail-in ballots received and counted by the county up to Election Day, as well as votes that were cast in person during early voting and on Election Day. Ballots will continue to be counted through June 18, causing results to change over the next few days.

As board incumbents have had to contend with navigating a pandemic, school closures, and the firing and subsequent rehiring of the district’s superintendent, the races for school board have seen longtime education advocates, one former assemblywoman and several political newcomers challenge incumbents for their seats.

District D

In District D, the seat representing the most schools in the district, Steven Conger was narrowly leading incumbent Irene Cepeda with 26.6 percent of the vote to her 25.6 percent. Brenda Zamora trailed them with 24.3 percent.

District D, which encompasses downtown and the northeast valley, has more than 70 schools serving more than 57,000 students.

Conger, a substitute teacher in the district who also has worked as a lobbyist for a conservative parental rights group, is running on a platform of giving more power back to parents and individual schools.

Cepeda, who serves as a project director for Nevada State College’s education school, has faced criticism for her vote to first fire, and then re-hire, Superintendent Jesus Jara last year.

Zamora works for Make It Work Nevada, a progressive advocacy group that organizes women of color around issues like paid family leave and pay equity. She is running on a platform of improving communications from the district and advocating for working families.

District F

In District F, the most crowded school board primary on the ballot this year, former Democratic state assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams took the lead over nine challengers with 21.2 percent of the vote. Her nearest challenger was incumbent Danielle Ford with 18.1 percent.

District F encompasses southwest Las Vegas and has 48 schools serving approximately 40,000 students.

Bustamante Adams serves as the deputy director and chief strategy officer for a local workforce development board where Jara is currently a member.

Ford owns an online marketing company and has two children in the district. The incumbent has been critical of Jara and various aspects of the district’s operations over the last four years.

District G

In District G, which encompasses the east valley, incumbent Linda Cavazos was leading with 35 percent of the vote. Her nearest challenger was Greg Wieman with 17.3 percent.

District G has 48 schools serving approximately 41,000 students.

Cavazos, who runs a private counseling practice, served as board president last year and was one of three board members, along with Ford, who voted to fire Jara as superintendent and voted against reinstating him.

Wieman was a teacher for 21 years and an administrator for 17 years in Michigan, Colorado and Nevada, including his time as a district superintendent in Eureka. He was running on a platform of improving student outcomes and addressing the crisis of school safety.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Lorraine Longhi at 480-243-4086 or llonghi@reviewjournal.com. Follow her @lolonghi on Twitter.