WAUKESHA, Wisc. — School board elections are historically non-partisan, but not this year. Several school board candidates were backed by local parties, yielding big wins for several school board races flipping conservative, including in Waukesha.
School board races became intense as more people wanted a seat at the table where decisions were being made about the pandemic and COVID-19 protocols.
As more people became interested in becoming a school board member, so did local political groups.
"WISRED", an initiative by the Republican Party of Waukesha County, focuses on electing conservative and right leaning local officials.
The initiative backed three winners in the Waukesha School board election: Mark Borowski, Marquell Moorer and Karrie Kozlowski.
Rebecca Kleefisch, a republican candidate running for governor, backed many conservative-leaning school board candidates.
"We saw explicit endorsements of candidates by political parties which is something that's relatively recent," said Dan Rossmiller, the government relations director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Rossmiller said, while this is unprecedented in school board races, he expects the operation of local boards to remain the same. But, he expects some things to change.
"The positions they ultimately take on certain issues and how they develop local policies to govern themselves may differ as a result of the election last night," Rossmiller stated.
He added that election results from Tuesday night may have impacts on not only local boards, but the state association.
UWM Professor Mordecai Lee believes school board members who are backed by political parties could be detrimental.
"We've got people who are getting elected to the school board who have a pre-conceived ideology," Lee said. "They know what they think."
In the last two years, school board members across Wisconsin had to make tough decision regarding COVID protocols and mitigation efforts, and Rossmiller believes the change we're seeing could be due that.
"Change in local school boards is reflective of change in communities," Rossmiller said.
The Waukesha Board of Education meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month. Meetings begin at 7 p.m., and are held at the School District of Waukesha - Lindholm Building, located at 222 Maple Ave.