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This story has been updated with the latest election results.

Republicans were on track to retain their majority on the county Board of Education in the first round of results for the highly contested county Board of Education contest, where charter school advocates and teacher’s unions have been battling over who will have a controlling majority.

Initial results for the three seats up for election show Republicans ahead for 2 seats, and Democrats ahead for 1 seat. Republican Ken Williams Jr. and Tim Shaw were ahead in their districts, while incumbent Democrat Rebecca “Beckie” Gomez was ahead in her district. 

These results show mail-in and dropped-off ballots through Monday evening, the night before the election, as well as all ballots cast in person at vote centers until Friday evening. Election day ballots will continue to come in throughout the night.

The full set of ballots in the race likely will not be counted until Friday, the last day mail-in ballots can arrive at the county elections office and still be counted.

The board – which oversees school district finances and can approve or reject charter schools – has been historically controlled by Republicans in the past. Democrats – backed by teacher’s unions – mounted an effort to get a majority in Tuesday’s election, while Republicans – backed by charter school advocates – sought to hold on to a majority of the board seats. 

Democrats would have to win all three races to get a majority on the Board. Unlike other county-level races, there are no runoffs in November, so the top vote-getter in the primary wins each seat outright.

In Area 1, incumbent Democrat board member Rebecca “Beckie” Gomez, who is 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 is backed by charter school advocates. 

In Area 3, incumbent Republican board member Ken L. Williams Jr., who is 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’s backed by teacher’s unions and Planned Parenthood.

In Area 4, Republican La Habra Councilman Tim 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 @helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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