Conservative Bacon returning to state board
Although Kansas across the state decided to elect moderate candidates to the State Board of Education, De Soto and the 3rd District re-elected its conservative incumbent.
Republican John Bacon easily beat Democrat Don Weiss for the District 3 seat on Tuesday. Both candidates are from Olathe.
"I was real disappointed in the results," Weiss said. "I thought the Democrats on the lower part of the ticket would do much better throughout the state than we did. We didn't pick up the boost that the state and federal candidates did."
Weiss wasn't the only challenger to Bacon's seat. In August, two other Republican candidates lost in the primary elections to Bacon. The accountant and father of three has had his seat on the board since 1999.
In 2005, a conservative-led board chose to introduce science standards that were critical of evolution and asked for opt-in rather than opt-out sexual education, and the Kansas State Board of Education made national headlines. During the primary elections, two conservative board members lost their seats, upsetting the balance of power.
Bacon, who has defended his conservative viewpoint, has said in previous interviews that the science standards were intended to be critical of scientific theories such as evolution, not to introduce creationism. Bacon said a new review of the science standards by a moderate-led majority would come during an off-cycle year and take the board into an "unnecessary debate."
Bacon was not available after the election results.
Weiss said although he lost his own election, he was pleased with the new majority on the board.
"Over a year ago we set out to change the state board and bring it back to a moderate majority," he said. "And we did accomplish that. I'm sorry I won't be a part of that, but we achieved our goal."
Sue Gamble, moderate State Board member whose district represents Shawnee and part of the De Soto district, said Kansans could expect change from the new board. She said any decision-making changes would take place in January when new board members begin their terms.
"There's some concern they've moved from service to the schools to other more marginal issues," Gamble said. "The field needs that service and I hope the board will return to that."