Ramirez confirmed winner in tight race for Roaring Fork school board seat
A pre-election meeting with a group of immigrant students only reinforced Jasmin Ramirez’s decision to run for the Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education.
Among the group were some “Dreamers” — immigrant students who came to the United States as young children with their parents and have essentially grown up as Americans, but who face an uncertain future due to their documentation status.
“They said they were nervous to hope that I could win, because they didn’t think it was possible in their community,” Ramirez said. “As a mother, to hear that, it’s very impactful.
“All I want is for these kids to be able to dream and hope, and imagine the possibilities.”
Unofficial final results from the Nov. 5 election released on Thursday confirmed Ramirez as the winner of the three-way race for the District D seat on the local school board overseeing public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.
Ramirez, from Glenwood Springs, tallied 2,605 votes to incumbent Shane Larson’s 2,519, for a narrow 39% to 37.7% margin. The third candidate in the race, Amy Connerton, had 1,552 votes, or 23% of the total.
Results still must be verified through a formal state audit and certified by the canvassing boards in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties.
A special Nov. 21 meeting is planned to swear in three new school board members — Ramirez, along with Maureen Stepp and Natalie Torres, who both easily won election over a pair of write-in candidates.
They will join current school board members Jen Rupert and Jennifer Scherer
In addition to the first two Latino members to serve on the school board in Ramirez and Torres, it marks the first time the Roaring Fork school board will be made up entirely of women.
Recently, the Eagle County Schools board was all-female, but that changed with this year’s election, according to Susan Meek, communications director for the Colorado Association of School Boards. She said she did not know of any other all-female school boards in Colorado, currently or in past years.
Larson was appointed to a vacant seat on the school board and was automatically elected to the seat when the 2017 election was canceled for lack of any contested seats. He congratulated Ramirez and applauded the level of interest in this year’s school board election.
“I would like to compliment Jasmin on the great job she did campaigning for the school board,” Larson said. “Her passion for her community, education and kids was on full display. She worked hard on the election, and I know she will continue the hard work for the schools.
“Our campaigns really got the community talking about education and our schools. At the end of the day, that is a good thing for our community.”
Larson said he hopes to continue to be a resource for the school district in the future, both personally and through his professional work as vice president of student affairs for Colorado Mountain College.
Ramirez added that, though her own experience was different being born and raised in California, she can relate to students and parents in a school district where more than 50% of the students are Latino.
“I had educators of color and knew a lot of people from diverse backgrounds in positions of influence,” she said. “A lot of students in our district have never met somebody like them who is in that kind of position … and to see the possibility in themselves.”
She also thanked Larson, who she met with over lunch on Thursday to talk about the role of a school board member. Ramirez said she and the other new school board members plan to attend a Colorado Association of School Boards training conference for new school board members in December.
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A state insurance pool refund means most full-time school district employees will get a $550 windfall.