Bonnie Hauser reelected to Orange County Schools Board

On a rainy Tuesday, voters turned out to give incumbent Bonnie Hauser another four-year term on the Orange County Schools Board of Education. 

Preliminary results show that Hauser received a decisive 64 percent of the nearly 4,000 votes cast in the runoff election between her and Jennifer Moore, another incumbent.

The runoff election, which Hauser requested after she came in fourth place behind Moore in the March election for three board seats, wasn’t without drama. On Election Day, some voters filled in ballots by phone flashlight because their polling place lost power. 

Precinct results show that Moore won a majority of voters in Hillsborough and the adjacent precincts West Hillsborough and Grady Brown, as well as Patterson to the south. The candidates tied in Hillsborough East, and Hauser won the rest of the precincts with particularly strong support in Caldwell and Carr to the north.

In previewing the election, the INDY detailed the drama of the past month as Moore resigned from the board and all but withdrew from the election after the News & Observer reported that she did not have a doctoral degree as she had previously claimed. Even as she said she was not running for the seat anymore, it was too late for election officials to take her name off the ballot. 

After Moore resigned, her supporters continued to campaign, not for Moore as much as against Hauser. They hoped that if Moore won the seat, the board would have to find a consensus pick to appoint for the term. 

Hauser’s reelection means that the board will likely continue on its current trajectory, because the membership will stay nearly identical—Carrie Doyle won her reelection in March, and Wendy Padilla will be the only newcomer to the board when she is sworn in over the summer. While most of the board’s votes have been unanimous, Hauser was in the majority in a few key 4-3 votes over the past two years. 

In a statement released Wednesday, Hauser thanked her supporters and said she looks forward to future conversations.

“To anyone who voted for ‘change’, please know that it’s already here – under the leadership of (superintendent Danielle Jones) and the oversight of a school board that is committed to safe, inclusive schools and fully accountable to voters. We are always available to hear your concerns and ideas for making our schools better.”

Tuesday may have marked the last ever runoff for the Orange County Schools Board, as state Senator Graig Meyer filed a bill to switch to a purely plurality-based system, citing the Jim Crow roots of runoff elections.

Reach Reporter Chase Pellegrini de Paur at [email protected]. Comment on this story at [email protected].

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