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Republicans had comfortable margins, putting them on track to maintain their 4-1 supermajority on the Orange County Board of Education, according to the latest election results Thursday evening.

It marks a campaign where charter school advocates backed Republicans and teacher’s unions backed Democrats.

Republicans Ken Williams Jr. and Tim Shaw continued to hold substantial leads in their districts, with the board’s one Democrat – Rebecca “Beckie” Gomez – also maintaining the lead in her district.

The county Board of Education oversees school district finances and can approve or reject charter schools. One prominent charter debate was playing out this week, when board members voted Wednesday to approve an appeal by the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) to renew its charter without the conditions required by Santa Ana Unified School District officials.

Unlike other county-level races, there are no runoffs in November for county Board of Education, so the top vote-getters in the election will win each seat outright.

In Area 1, Gomez, who was backed by trade unions and Planned Parenthood, ran against Republican challenger Jim Palmer, who’s been the longtime leader of the Orange County Rescue Mission and was backed by charter school advocates.

In Area 3, Williams Jr., who was backed by pro-charter school PACs funded by Walmart’s family owners and businessman Howard Ahmanson, ran against Democrat Andy Thorburn, a millionaire businessman who was backed by teacher’s unions and Planned Parenthood.

In Area 4, Shaw ran against three Democrats: Paulette Chaffee, Anaheim Councilman Jordan Brandman, and youth counselor Vicki Calhoun.

Chaffee dropped out of running for Fullerton City Council in 2018 when she was caught on video stealing campaign signs, for which she later pled guilty. Brandman was backed by trade unions, school employee unions and Planned Parenthood, and Calhoun did not report any fundraising for her campaign.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC news intern. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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