Local School Board Elections: Voters Largely Reject Progressives

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Voters in the Saucon Valley and Southern Lehigh school districts couldn’t have been much clearer in terms of how they cast their votes in Tuesday’s election, with more progressive candidates largely failing to win or retain seats in the districts’ hotly-contested school board races.

Democrat Tracy Magnotta was an exception, winning re-election to her seat on the Saucon Valley School Board. However Democratic newcomers Vivan Demko, Robert Phillips–who became a candidate after incumbent Sandra Miller bowed out of the race over the summer–and Raquel Barbera all failed in their attempts to win board seats.

Magnotta ran for re-election alongside fellow incumbents Shamim Pakzad and Cedric Dettmar, who appeared on the ballot as Republicans. All three were cross-filed in the May primary election, in which Magnotta won on both the Democratic and Republican sides and Pakzad and Detmar won in the Republican primary. On Tuesday, Pakzad received 2,771 votes, Dettmar received 2,713 votes and Magnotta received 2,512 votes.

Republican newcomer John Conte won the fourth seat that was up for grabs with 2,464 votes, according to Northampton County’s unofficial election results.

Saucon Valley School Board Winners

From left, the winners of the Saucon Valley School Board race are Cedric Dettmar (I), Shamim Pakzad (I), Tracy Magnotta (I) and John Conte, according to unofficial Northampton County election results.

Demko, Phillips and Barbera finished in fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively, according to the results.

In the Southern Lehigh School Board race, Democrat Kathleen Parsons lost her re-election bid as four Republican members of a group called Southern Lehigh Advocates for Full Education (SLAFE) were propelled to victory by anger over the current board’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; an investigation into the former superintendent’s relationship with a consultant hired to help train district staff in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and other issues. SLAFE candidates Christopher Wayock, Mary Joy Reinartz, Stephen Maund and Nicole King were the top vote-getters in the eight-way race.

Along with Parsons, also falling short in the race that was decided Tuesday were Democratic newcomers Melissa Torba, Glenn Laverty IV and Nicole Dolan.

Southern Lehigh School Board Winners

From left, the winners of the Southern Lehigh School Board race are Nicole King, Stephen R. Maund, Mary Joy Reinartz and Christopher Wayock, according to unofficial Lehigh County election results.


Christopher Wayock – 3,388 votes
Mary Joy Reinartz – 3,368 votes
Stephen R. Maund – 3,363 votes
Nicole King – 3,357 votes
Kathleen Parsons (i) – 3,061 votes
Melissa Torba – 2,993 votes
Glenn S. Laverty IV – 2,956 votes
Nicole Dolan – 2,921 votes

*Denotes unofficial results. Results will only be official once certified by the Lehigh County Voter Registration Office, which typically happens about two weeks after an election. The results of the Saucon Valley School Board race must be formally certified by the Northampton County Office of Elections before they become official.

The Southern Lehigh School Board is a nine-member board that typically meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Southern Lehigh High School.

The Saucon Valley School Board is a nine-member board and generally meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the high school Audion room.

Both boards livestream meetings.

For the results of the Lower Saucon Township Council races, click here.

For the results of the Hellertown Borough Council races, click here.

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