Incumbents win Toledo Public School board races

·2 min read

Nov. 3—Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly chose to allow all three incumbent Democrats to stay on the Toledo Public Schools board of education, denying a Republican challenger's attempt to unseat one of them in the race for three open board spots.

Bob Vasquez was the top vote-getter according to unofficial results, with 15,264 — or 30.6 percent — of the votes with roughly 80 percent of precincts tallied as of press deadline. Christine Varwig was the next highest vote-getter with 14,116 (28.3 percent) of the votes. Polly Taylor‑Gerken was third with 13,666 (27.4 percent) votes.

Defeated was Republican challenger Jason Sobb, a St. Francis de Sales graduate and now semi-retired entrepreneur who was running for public office for the first time, who garnered 6,818 votes, or 13.6 percent.

Mr. Vasquez is a former social worker and the current vice president of external affairs for the Toledo Zoo who has been on the board since 2008. Ms. Varwig, who is currently the TPS school board president, has been on the board since 2013 and has been nominated to become the president-elect of the Ohio School Boards Association for 2022. Mrs. Gerken is a school psychologist and program director who worked for the Toledo school district for 30 years before being elected to the school board in 2013.

All three had the backing of the Lucas County Democratic Party, while Mr. Sobb was endorsed by the Lucas County Republican Party.

The three incumbents focused much of their campaign on looking ahead to provide educational and emotional support for students after spending much of the past year or so learning virtually during the coronavirus pandemic; expanding technical and other career programs also played heavily in their campaigns.

All three have also been vocal in their opposition to the weight state officials and lawmakers put on students' standardized test scores, as well as state bills that the candidates argue encroach on local control, such as two closely related "critical race theory" bills in the Ohio General Assembly that would determine how educators teach about racism and other "divisive concepts."

Critical race theory is a scholarly movement that examines U.S. history and modern society through a focus on the legacy of slavery, racism, and discrimination.

Mr. Sobb campaigned that critical race theory is "alive and well" in the district, pointing to TPS officials' proposed Afrocentric curriculum — which focuses on Black history and culture — as an example.

First Published November 2, 2021, 11:24pm

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