Conservative Anchorage school board candidates drop plans to run together as one comes under scrutiny for his social media posts

Just over a week after a slate of four self-proclaimed Conservative candidates announced a joint campaign for Anchorage school board seats, three of the candidates decided to run separate campaigns and one dropped out altogether.

In an announcement aimed largely at a conservative audience, the list said it would show up as a group on January 22. After the announcement, B seat candidate Judy Eledge quickly drew public attention to the social media posts on her personal Facebook page.

Screenshots of publications, including one denouncing the wearing of masks and advocating corporal punishment as a parenting tool, have started circulating on Twitter and Facebook. Campaign spokeswoman Bee Hanson said several of the screenshots had been edited and others taken out of context. Hanson and Eledge did not provide further explanation of how the posts were taken out of context, and did not specify which screenshots were edited and how.

Eledge is a Longtime retired Alaskan educator and conservative mainstay who supported Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s campaign and served as president of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club.

Eledge did not respond to interview requests and instead provided a statement, emailed to The Daily News by Hanson.

“I’m not interested in talking about my Facebook posts which have often taken out of context and in some cases have been rewritten to defame me,” Eledge said in the emailed statement. “What interests me is being the voice of our children and ensuring that their educational needs are met within the school district. This is what I have spent the last 40 years in education talking about and it remains the same today. “

The Dunleavy administration in 2019 hired Eledge to work with the state on education, according to an article on The Alaska Land Mine.

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development currently has a contract with Eledge, through its company Business Education Solutions Simplified, to provide ‘Literacy Advisory Council coordinator services’. State “until Dec. 31 this year for an amount not exceeding $ 100,000, Erin Hardin, special assistant to the department, said in an email.

Last year, she worked on a state reading plan for kindergarten to grade three, according to the Biography on his campaign site. He also says that she retired as a director in 2003.

She was an Alaska delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention and the 2020 National Election, she voted as the Republican Voter of Alaska in the Electoral College.

Other candidates on the list included Sami Graham, a former teacher and principal in Anchorage, campaigning for Seat E. She parted ways over the weekend and decided on Tuesday to stay in the race as single player campaign.

Bartlett High School football coach Pierce Blewett withdrew from the race for the G. Blewett seat on Monday said it was a family decision and he would consider running in the future. .

The rest of the list then decided to run separately, according to Hanson, director of communications for candidates Eledge, Kim Paulson and Graham. Kim Paulson is now racing separately for Seat F.

“We got together and decided that we were going to be the conservative voice of the school board, but they each have their own campaign,” said Hanson.

Running as a list is a unique concept in municipal elections, and Alaska state law prohibits campaigns from contributing to other campaign funds. Each candidate must fundraise and spend separately, and there are strict rules governing expenses and equal reimbursements for shared campaign events and expenses, according to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The candidates will always be united in some of their efforts, Hanson said. At the heart of every candidate’s campaign is that children should be physically in school. Anchor schools were closed to in-person learning from last spring due to the pandemic, but have recently started the gradual return of students in classrooms.

“The kids just deserve better,” Graham said. Graham, now retired, worked as a teacher and counselor in the district and as a principal at Trailside Elementary School.

Graham said she was deeply concerned for children who have been out of class for almost a year, many of whom may have suffered abuse during this time or may have lagged behind in learning.

Graham said in an emailed statement Tuesday that she and her family have decided to part ways with the group.

“We see the local battle we find ourselves in for a more balanced board of directors and we believe my message will be clearly conveyed if I step off the slate and focus on running a single player campaign,” said writes Graham.

The list had initially announced his candidacy in an attempt to form a conservative majority in the Anchorage school board. Although school board seats are technically non-partisan, sometimes political ideologies underpin approaches to school policy.

“Our goal is to win these 4 seats and join David Donley to form the majority! It won’t be easy. We are faced with people who don’t seem to want all the kids to go back to school, support the indoctrination of our kids, and don’t worry that Alaska students are the last to read and want to keep spending. , spend, spend! The group said in its announcement, emailed to media and conservative groups.

Donley, who currently occupies the C seat on the board of directors, is a former Republican lawmaker in the state of Alaska.

Shortly after the list was announced, the crash over Eledge’s social media posts unfolded online as screenshots of his Facebook page were widely shared on social media by individuals and a liberal blog. Several readers emailed the Daily News about the screenshots, which included one of a photo posted on September 23 of Eledge and her husband on a plane with their masks down.

Another screenshot from a September 23 Publish criticized the wearing of the mask and said “our kids would and still get good Tennessee asses if they acted like whims!”

Other screenshots of widely shared posts included comments on race and LGBTQ issues. One was a Facebook video by Tim Keller, an American theologian, titled, “If you are white skinned, the Bible says you are involved in injustice.” In the screenshot that was shared, Eledge’s post about the video stated, “How sad people of color seem to have no self-esteem! If so, why all the emphasis on color? “

Hanson and Graham both called the shared screenshots a “smear campaign.”

A photo was edited and sent to a teacher, who then sent it, Hanson said.

Eledge has since deleted its Facebook page. Hanson said the rest of the group also deleted each of their Facebook pages.

“Judy is a bold voice. She is passionate about being there for teachers and children, ”said Hanson. “And of course, they attacked her first. And that only pushes his passion to want to be able to make a difference. “

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