Democrats pulled off a major upset in Pennridge, sweeping all five school board seats and potentially signaling a major shift in policies.
According to unofficial results, the Pennridge Community Alliance slate of Carolyn Sciarrino (9.964 votes), Leah Foster-Rash (9,503), Chris Kauffman (9,604), Bradley Merkyl-Gump (9,456), and Ron Wurz (9,660) each held about a 900-vote lead over the highest polling Republican. Wurz is an incumbent who switched his party affiliation for the election.
Incumbent Jonathan Russell (8,479) topped the Protect Pennridge 2023 slate with Bob Sellers (8,369), Barba Vees (8,331), Josh Hogan (8,303), and Jim York (8,245) rounding out the ticket.
When the five Democrats take office in December, the balance of power will shift after years of Republican control. The board was already guaranteed three new faces. Neither Vice President Megan Banis-Clemens nor Joan Cullen chose to run for reelection, and current board president Dave Reiss fell short in the primary.
In a post on its Facebook page, the Protect Pennridge 2023 candidates promised to “still do all we can to protect Pennridge.”
They said they are “proud of the positive message we projected, and of the unity we were able to foster among our supporters, volunteers, and candidates.”
They also extended “sincere congratulations” to the Pennridge Community Alliance candidates and added that they trust the “new board will work hard to serve our community effectively…in the best interests of students, parents, educators, and taxpayers.”
Russell said he hopes the community will be brought together under a new governance model “which will encourage full board participation and engender collaboration between all of our stakeholders.”
Best practices and good decision-making remain continuing goals all desire to see achieved, he said, regardless of political affiliations and election results.
The PCA candidates campaigned on a promise to fire Jordan Adams and Vermilion Education on their first day in office. Adams was hired by a slim majority of the board (5-4) in April and has been reviewing the district’s curriculum, particularly in social studies.
Adams has been a lightning rod for criticism for what opponents said was a lack of experience in writing curriculum and his ties to the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum that some say promotes an American exceptionalist view of history that downplays the country’s faults, especially when it comes to race.
A Democrat majority may also take aim at controversial policies passed by the current board that focus on access to bathrooms and participation in sports by transgender students.