Democrats pick up two Forsyth Co. school board seats in at-large race

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(Lauren Carroll/Journal)
John Motsinger, candidate for NC State Senate District 31, watches returns with his wife, Elisabeth Motsinger, candidate for County Board of Education At-Large, at Foothills.

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — A key win in the at-large race Tuesday means Democrats will have more seats on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education, but fell short in their bid to take over the board majority, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Democrats Elisabeth Motsinger and Katherine Fansler were the top two vote-getters in the race for the three at-large seats. Early in the evening it looked as if \

Democrats might sweep all three at-large seats, but as the more rural precincts began to report, the third Democrat — German Garcia — fell to last place. He would have been the first Hispanic on the school board, although Hispanic students now make up more than 20 percent of the district.

Instead, Republican Robert Barr slid into the third spot with 16.7 percent of the vote, with 92 percent of the precincts reporting.

Just 400 votes separated Barr and Republican Mark Johnson, with eight precincts yet to report. If Barr does maintain his lead, he will become the first black to be elected to a school board seat outside of District 1, which covers the county’s urban core.

Barr declined to comment Tuesday night without a final result. Johnson could not be reached.

With Republicans stealing away the third at-large seat and a Republican sweep of the four seats in District 2, the GOP held on to the board’s majority.

Republican John Davenport, who currently holds a District 1 seat to which he was appointed in 2011, finished fifth with 16 percent of the vote. Davenport lives in District 1, but chose to run for an at-large seat because he thought he would have a better chance as a Republican.

Davenport said that although it was “clearly not a good night for Republicans or me,” he said he would continue to serve the community.

District 1’s two seats are Democratic strongholds. Incumbent Victor Johnson and newcomer Deanna Taylor were elected Tuesday to the District 1 seats without any Republican challengers.

Motsinger, who will be one of just three incumbents left on the board, said she is looking forward to a fresh start for the board.

“It’s going to be a really interesting board,” Motsinger said. “I’m hoping we can all come together and focus on what’s best for our kids.”

Motsinger was the top vote-getter, with 18.8 percent, winning her third term on the school board. She has consistently been one of the board’s most outspoken and progressive members.

“I’m very happy I’ve built such a good relationship with the community and to get such a vote of confidence from Forsyth County,” Motsinger said.

Fansler, a former teacher, finished second with 17.26 percent of the vote. Fansler said she is excited to get started.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity,” Fansler said. “I have a lot to learn, and I have a tremendous interest in making sure what we’re making decisions that make sense in the classroom for children and teachers.”

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