November school board election strategy

Published October 3, 2013 by justicewg
Evans election sign at the Ohio Tap Room

Evans election sign at the Ohio Tap Room

Three important bits of wisdom for the school board election in November.

The most popular of the three write-in candidates will take a seat. This is guaranteed.

To win, the second most popular write-in candidate must get more votes than Truett, who is on the regular ballot.

If your driving motivation is to keep Truett off the school board, your best bet is to vote for all three write-in candidates.


The candidates and the actions they have taken are a bit of a mess, so here is the quick update.

Current board members Douglas, Clifford, and Kessler had to run if they wanted to stay on the board. Kessler didn’t file to run. Douglas and Clifford did file, and former High School principal Jesse Truett signed up to run. Truett had major issues with his background of resigning from the school and turning in his teaching license. But because all three were unopposed on the ballot, they could expect to take their seats without even running campaigns.

Katie Clifford blew the paperwork for the school board election, and could not file again. This left a open seat for anyone who wanted to run as a write-in.

Three candidate filed for write-in status – John Leutz, Sandy Kipp , and Stephanie Evans. There are three open seats and two candidates on the regular ballot. One of these write-in candidates will become a board member, guaranteed.

Historically, write in candidates have little chance of defeating candidates who are on the ballot. Most people have never submitted a write-in vote, and have no knowledge of how it would be done on the electronic machines we use in Franklin County. But it did happen once in the past, current council member Anthony Panzera won as a write-in. Could a write-in candidate beat Truett? Remember, the top voted write-in will take a seat, no question. The second most popular will have to get more votes than a person on the regular ballot. It doesn’t happen often.

The signs might be important

Traditionally yard signs are not as important as candidates believe. Getting a sign on the lawn of a person who was going to vote for you anyway doesn’t help much.

Write-in candidates are desperate for name recognition. It will be a top priority for them to get as many signs up as possible, so that voters will know they need to remember to write a name on the ballot (and spell it correctly).

John Leutz, former mayor of Grandview, and Sandy Kipp, longtime school employee, have the advantage of good name recognition. That might be why Evans has already started to place signs throughout the city

The Chamber of Commerce night is important

In past elections the Chamber of Commerce has held “candidate nights” where voters could ask questions at the High school. The Chamber at first though there would be no contested elections, so they didn’t schedule a “meet the candidate” night. According to Michelle Wilson of the chamber, “We will discuss and decide at my next board meeting on October 9.” If seeing a candidate night happen is important to you I would be contacting a member of the board.

If there will be a candidate night, my prediction is that Truett and Douglass will fail to show up. After all, why answer difficult questions from the voters when you can sit at home and enjoy the massive advantage of being on the ballot? That will be OK though, because the more the focus is on the write-in candidates, the better.

If Jesse Truett does show up, the only two questions he should be asked is “Did you give up your teaching license in order to avoid being prosecuted and jailed by the Westerville police?” and “Did you have sex with an 18 year old student while you were a teacher?”. I don’t think he wants to stand on a podium and answer those questions.

Negative campaigning will drive the election

Jesse Truett’s negatives will be a big part of the election. He knew this going in to file, but thought he could slip by uncontested because he was the only person who filed for the open seat. Now he is in direct competition with three write-in candidates. I predict that Truett’s supporters will try their best to sling mud at the other candidates.

If I were Grant Douglass, I would be making an alliance with one of the write-in candidates, and throw Truett under the bus. The anti-Truett voters could blow back on him and kick him off the board.

Write-in election mathematics

A lot of people vote with no knowledge of the background or positions of the candidates, they just see some names and see instructions to “vote for X number”. If they don’t vote for someone, even if the office has just one person running, they get a blinking light and a prompt from the voting machine that says “you didn’t vote in some races, do you want to go back and complete your ballot?” The default action is to vote in all races just to stop the nag screen. This gives a tremendous advantage to the regular ballot candidates. The write-in candidates who come in second and third will have a slim chance of getting on the board.

You should listen to them all and chose the candidates who you think will do the best job on the board. But a vote for two of the write-in candidates, while the next voter casts ballots for a different pair of write-ins, will mathematically result in a lower number of votes for all of them, increasing the chances the regular ballot candidates will win.

If you don’t want a “resigned in disgrace administrator” on the school board, the best way to ensure that he is not elected is to vote for all three write-in candidates. After all, if you were going to vote for two of them, it’s just as easy to vote for all three.


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