The Democrats won all five seats on the Central Bucks School Board Tuesday, sending a message that voters were unhappy with the GOP-controlled board’s direction. Reforms such as allowing challenges of patently pornographic books in school libraries and keeping political banners and other items out of classrooms, unless those were part of the curriculum, will likely be swept aside.
Democrats Heather Reynolds, Dana Foley, Rick Haring, Susan Gibson, and incumbent Karen Smith won handily.
“I am so very happy and relieved to have won reelection and to share this victory with all my running mates. But this isn’t just a victory for me or my fellow candidates,” Smith said. “This is a victory for our students, our teachers, our support staff, and our community. With this vote, we showed that love is stronger than hate and compassion is stronger than fear. And voters made clear they will not be divided or distracted from working together — all of us — to solve the real issues our students face.
Aarati Martino, who lost to Haring, thanked her supporters.
“I learned a lot and have not a single regret for running,” said Martino. “And congratulations to my opponents for winning the board race. Good luck!”
Martino told DVJournal, “We lost because not enough voters saw the danger in the policies that our opponents will propose and effect.
“We conservatives have this Cassandra-like curse of seeing the longer term and unintended consequences of actions that intend to help people but usually make things much worse. I predict our district will not be as effective in educating our children and preparing them for the future as they were for this past generation. It will take time for these policies to degrade the system because the district internally has been run extraordinarily well with many amazing people in charge, not to mention the superb teachers and staff on the front lines. And the press will not be transparent on this matter, so parents will have no idea that things could (have) been so much better. In fact, now that their endorsed candidates are in charge, at least now, the media will give us a reprieve from the constant negative media barrage!
“It is sad because I know for a fact many people voted against us because of unhappiness with their families, with their children, with their lives. These new progressive policies will do nothing to improve their situation and will likely worsen it. And I feel bad for them because I do believe our slate could have led the way in showing a much better way for nurturing and educating our children together,” she said.
Her husband, Paul Martino, also shared his thoughts on Facebook. =Paul Martino founded a political action committee, Back to School PA PAC, in 2021 and successfully backed school board candidates across the state, with 60 percent of those candidates winning.
“The first big message here is that Pennsylvania is a blue state and has been since 2020,” he said. “We stuck our finger in the dike in 2021, but the water has fully crested now. We lost pretty much everywhere last night, from row offices to the state Supreme Court. And, of course, in many school board races, including CBSD and Pennridge.
“This bodes poorly for the 2024 nominee for president here in the previously purple state of Pennsylvania, despite the recent polling. I think the current polling methods don’t reflect the now baked D advantage that the voting changes of Act 77 (mail-in ballots) brought.”
Paul Martino added that the pending redistricting decision by a judge will make it unlikely for Republicans to win seats on CBSB in the future.
“That’s terrible news if you want to keep the prestige of the district, as the Ds have made their priorities clear:…going back to advocacy in the classroom, DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) initiatives, more social-emotional learning, etc. None of this makes education outcomes better but promotes their social agenda. The kids are the real losers here.”
Dr. Steven Mass, Smith’s opponent, said, “The only winners in Tuesday’s elections are the private schools, who will have their enrollment skyrocket in the next few years when parents see what policies are coming into our district.”
Smith said, “Now that the election is behind us, I am eager to start working on some of the priorities I shared with voters during the campaign. Restoring civility to our meetings, beginning to revise these policies that have divided us over the last couple of years, working to bring additional mental health supports for our students, and ensuring we are providing a safe and inclusive environment for all our students and staff.”