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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

Primary results shape school board races in Union, Iredell and Lincoln counties

A primary voter in Belmont Tuesday morning.
Ann Doss Helms
A primary voter in Belmont Tuesday morning.

The Union, Iredell-Statesville and Lincoln County school boards held primaries Tuesday, some of them determining who will serve on the board.

According to final but unofficial results, Union County Vice Chair Kathy Heintel fended off a challenge from newcomer Jessica Cook in the Republican primary for the District 6 seat.

Heintel has served on the school board since 2016 and been vice chair since 2018. She touted her conservative leadership and experience as a board member and corporate lawyer.

Cook, according to her campaign website, is a conservative Christian parent who supports parental rights and became engaged with the Union County school board during the pandemic.

“It all began with fighting for masks to be optional, but then it evolved into more things, as we began to fight to end quarantining and taking a look at curriculum and inappropriate books in the library,” Cook said in a video on her site.

Similar issues have mobilized interest in school board races across the country. CNN recently focused on North Carolina’s school board primaries as a testing ground for parent activism that surged during the pandemic.

All of the Union County school board races have Republican and Democratic candidates running in November.

In Iredell-Statesville Schools, the Republican primary effectively chose two new members in a race where no incumbents sought reelection and no Democrats are running. Brian Sloan and Anita Kurn won their primary races with more than 55% of the vote.

The final but unofficial tally showed Abby Trent ahead of Kent Shoffner by only five votes, or less than half a percentage point, in a three-way contest for the District 3 seat. Iredell Election Director Susie Jordan said Wednesday the winner won't be clear until the May 27 canvass, after provisional ballots are reviewed.

Jordan said the second-place finisher will likely be close enough to request a recount. The winner faces Democrat Michelle Coffey in November.

Sloan, Kurn and Trent were endorsed by a Mooresville-based group called Free the Smiles, whose website describes it as a parental rights group fighting government overreach. So was Republican Mike Kubiniec, the only person on the ballot for the District 5 seat.

Lincoln County Schools held its first school board primary, after switching from nonpartisan races. Tony Jenkins, Fred Jarrett and Krista Heavner won in the Republican primary. Democrat Keith Poston defeated a challenger in the Democratic primary and will face Jenkins for an at-large seat in November.

This year 42 of 115 North Carolina districts are holding partisan races. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Gaston and Catawba counties are among the majority that will hold nonpartisan elections in November.

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Corrected: May 18, 2022 at 1:32 PM EDT
An earlier version of this story omitted a Democratic candidate for Iredell-Statesville school board.
Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.