Four 'Free the Smiles' candidates move toward Iredell-Statesville school board seats
Tuesday’s primary moved Iredell-Statesville Schools closer to having a new majority on the school board. Four of the seven seats are on the ballot this year, and none of the incumbents ran for reelection.
Founder Jeramy Smith says in an introductory video that the group opposes mandates that restrict parents' rights.
"We believe that masks should be optional. We believe that critical race theory has no place in the classroom. Vaccines should not be mandated," Smith says. "And lastly, our political leaders and Board of Education should take a stand for the students' and the citizens' liberties."
Two of the group’s candidates, Brian Sloan and Anita Kurn, emerged from the Republican primary with clear victories and no Democratic opponent in November.
A third, Republican Mike Kubiniec, was the only candidate in either primary for the District 5 seat. But Iredell election officials say Billie Spevak has submitted signatures to get on the November ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. The signatures have not been checked to see if she qualifies.
The fourth Free the Smiles candidate, Abby Trent, is five votes ahead of Kent Shoffner in the final but unofficial tally. Election Director Susie Jordan says the elections board is still reviewing provisional ballots and the result won’t be clear until the May 27 canvass. The race is likely to be close enough for the second-place finisher to request a recount. The winner faces Democrat Michelle Coffey in November.
School boards across the country have seen an influx of candidates who became politically active during the pandemic, many of them mobilized by the issues cited by Free the Smiles.
The Iredell group also supported two candidates in the 10-person Republican primary for seats on the Iredell Board of County Commissioners, but neither finished in the top three.