Surprising Results of IR School Board Election - How Did Mike Bellerose Do?
Updated: May 12
Check out Delaware Election results here https://elections.delaware.gov/results/ and the Indian River election results here https://elections.delaware.gov/results/html/index.shtml?electionId=SCIR23
Voting in the Indian River School Board elections is different from other school districts in Delaware in that only voters in a certain election district are eligible to vote, vs the entire school board district being able to vote in the school board election. Therefore most of us living in the 38th district could NOT vote in this election, despite Indian River School Board being our district. Confusing, I know. So which district could vote in this school board election? It was the 37th district, Georgetown/Millsboro area, the district of Rep. Ruth Briggs King.
So Who Came Out To Vote for District 2?
This School Board district 2 has 10,687 voters, and 506 people came out to vote. Which is only 4.73% of the eligible voters! Yep, 506 people decided this election. FYI this district has republicans outnumbering democrats about 2 to 1. So, the Republican backed candidates should have won, right? But did they? Here's the breakdown:
Michael Bellerose, the Republican Party backed candidate had 100 machine votes, 1 absentee ballot vote and won 20% of the vote.
The Republican vote was split, by second Republican candidate, Leo Darmstadter, with 138 machine votes, and 1 absentee vote, winning 28% of the vote.
The winning candidate was the registered Democrat, Ivan Neal, who had 256 machine votes and 10 absentee votes, winning 53% of the vote.
Had the 2 Republican candidates not been split, the Republican ticket could have won 240 votes, total, still losing, but by 26 votes. Also note, the Democrat candidate made a concerted effort to get out absentee ballots, something Republican candidates do not make a priority. Also, the democrat supporters were passionate about coming out to vote, with sign holding, and shouting/yelling against Bellerose for his stance against CRT at the polling places. We just didn't see that passion in republican voters in this election.
Why Is Reviewing This School Board Election Important?
This District 2 School Board election is the canary in the coal mine because there will be a special election in this district, District 37, in September 2023, when Rep. Ruth Briggs King steps down. There is currently no group, club or other mechanism to get out the republican vote in this district, unlike in the Mighty 38th and the Fabulous 41st with strong, active Republican Clubs. We will need to work closely with the current RDC and Election District Captains of the 37th District, to start their campaigning ASAP for this special election for the Republican candidate, or else we will lose yet another strong Republican Representative here in Sussex County, which we cannot afford.
As an aside, here is what I learned about Candidate Door Knocking
This was my third time walking with a candidate and knocking door to door in neighborhoods, asking folks to come out to vote in an upcoming election. Each time, it was a positive experience, enjoyable, and struck me as a powerful way to connect with our fellow citizens over issues that matter and get people more involved in our election process. It was real, it was direct, sometimes somewhat anxiety provoking, but satisfying in the end. OK, a few things I recommend:
Have a plan. And what I mean by this is to divide up the targeted neighborhoods with addresses and locations of houses of Republicans and Independents clearly marked. And print up the targeted neighborhood from Google Maps. Having this visual is much more effective than having a list of addresses. Bring a clipboard and check off houses as you go. To save a neighborhood map, go to Google Maps, find your neighborhood, look for the 3 dots at the top right of the screen, and select Print, which will prompt you to save the map as a PDF file.
Have a Support Vehicle
I think ideally, it would be best to have a dedicated support vehicle, that holds all the signs and door hangers, but drives along with the walkers. Otherwise, walkers make progress going house to house along a street, but quickly, walkers have to turn around to return to their vehicle after a few homes so they are not too far away from their car. A support vehicle would allow walkers to continue their forward progress. I would also have the support vehicle marked with a Get Out The Vote placard and decorated American flags would be great. These markings ease the suspicions of neighbors and let's the friendlies know who we are.
Dress for the Occasion
In rural Sussex County, many people do not use their front doors regularly, and do not have well defined paths to their front door. Areas in Sussex can get soggy and proper footgear will make traversing paths more manageable and pleasant.
Travel in Pairs
Absolutely travel in groups or pairs. Even Jesus always sent his apostles out in pairs. But a little one-on-one knocking with your partner nearby is ok too.
Always leave information, especially if the homeowner is not at home. Leave info on a door hanger. And when you do make contact with a homeowner, ask if you can leave a yard sign on their property.
Ask For The Vote
Always ask for the vote, get a verbal confirmation, that the homeowner will go out to vote.
The last things I learned is that if you are going to bring a Shepherd door knocking and drive a Tahoe, some may think you are a parole officer. But hey, felons are people too. They may not vote, but they can display a yard sign!
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