Denver school board election results: Tuesday returns favor Youngquist, Sia and De La Rosa

Leading issues in this election are school safety, the treatment of educators and how the district is addressing a mental health crisis.
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Denver Public Schools’ Discovery Link before- and after-school program at Carson Elementary School. March 17, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

John Youngquist, Kimberlee Sia and Marlene De La Rosa lead in the Denver School Board race.

Tonight's election for three seats on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education has been shaped by debates over school safety, district leadership and transparency, the treatment of educators and how the district is addressing a mental health crisis.

Last year there were multiple high-profile shootings at East High School. Reports of academic achievement gaps between white students and Black and Latino students raised questions about whether the district is delivering on its promises of equity.

Faced with a budget shortfall, the board had to decide which schools to shutter and which to keep open to save money.

Public squabbles between board members have led to a glut of unflattering headlines, accusations of misbehavior and even a censure. During all this, the Resign DPS Board movement emerged, expressing loud criticism of the district's current leadership.

All of that has made for a heated election.

There are three open seats on the seven-member board: one at-large member representing the entire city, and members representing District 1 and District 5.

Here's what we know from the first round of returns.

John Youngquist declared victory in the at-large race.

Former East High School principal and 30-year veteran educator John Youngquist led the at-large race with over 62% of the vote.

"Winning this race reaffirms my understanding that our community is determined to have a school board that will work together to ensure that every child has a safe, motivating, effective learning experience that propels them into their successful future," he said in a statement. "I look forward to listening to our children, their parents, our teachers and our principals to better understand the work that we need to prioritize as a school district."

Former Tattered Cover CEO, businessman and DPS alum Kwame Spearman has more than 26%.

Brittni Johnson, whose campaign was disrupted by illness, secured nearly 12% of the vote.

Paul Ballenger dropped out of the race. More than 12% of the tallied votes are undervotes.

Kimberlee Sia leads in District 1

In District 1, in Southeast Denver, educator and DPS parent Kimberlee Sia is leading with nearly 56% of the vote.

Incumbent, DPS parent, architect and entrepreneur Scott Baldermann has just over 44% of the vote

Marlene DeLaRosa leads in District 5

In District 5, in Northwest Denver, education advocate and former longtime Department of Justice US Immigration Court employee Marlene De La Rosa leads with just over 59% of the vote.

Incumbent, former family trial lawyer and parent and grandparent of DPS students Charmaine Lindsay has just over 24% of the vote.

Former teacher and parent Adam Slutzker has just under 17% of the vote.

What's next

Results will not be certified until Nov. 29.

The first round of votes tallied reflect those that came in before Nov. 6.

We will update returns again Wednesday morning. 

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