Coeur d'Alene Public Schools voters give split decision on incumbents who backed masks

<p><p>Voters in Kootenai County filled two of three school board seats with candidates who vocally opposed mask mandates and raised concerns over critical race theory in an election result that ousted an incumbent from the school board.</p></p><p><p>Allie Anderton won with nearly 52% of the unofficial Kootenai County election vote results, replacing Lisa May. This will mark the first time in public office for the stay-at-home mother.</p></p><p><p>“After 15 years of volunteering in classrooms, guiding my children through public school conundrums, speaking directly with teachers, students and parents and building strong relationships throughout, I know I am in a position to stand up and be a voice for those I would represent,” she wrote on the Kootenai County GOP candidate page.</p></p><p><p>In a tight race between school psychologist Lindsey Swingrover and former educator Lesli Bjerke, Bjerke earned 50.3% of the vote over Swingrover. Bjerke has also advocated against mask and vaccine mandates.</p></p><p><p>Like Anderton, Bjerke was endorsed by the Kootenai County GOP and brought up concerns over social emotional learning being taught to students.</p></p><p><p>The only GOP-endorsed candidate to seemingly lose was Glen Campbell, who ran a campaign similar to Anderton and Bjerke. Campbell opposed mask mandates and said he was concerned about critical race theory in schools.</p></p><p><p>Voters again chose incumbent Rebecca Smith, who won with 52.3%. While on the board, Smith has advocated for full-day kindergarten and adjusting school attendance zones to match a growing Kootenai County.</p></p><p><p>In a statement Wednesday, Smith said she was grateful for the results. Smith said she hoped the board could come together in making decisions for public schools.</p></p><p><p>“It’s obvious from our election results that we have to find common ground, build on our strengths, focus on our shared values and together do what’s best for kids, I’m eager to focus my time and energy on continuing to build on the strong educational success of District 271,” Smith said in her statement.</p></p><p><p>Smith supported the district’s strategic plan, the 2021 school levy and worked on the Long-Range Planning Committee, according to her campaign website.</p></p><p><p>Smith and May had backed mask mandates for this school year as local hospitals became overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. They were outvoted in September, and the district opted to recommend, not mandate, masks.</p></p>