ASD candidate Daniels wins one seat, second seat race too close to call

Sarah Daniels won decidedly, second seat too close to call

Sarah Daniels responds to a question during an Aspen School District Board of Education candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, inside the Aspen District Theater. She won one of the two open seats decidedly on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Cassie Harrelson led incumbent Katy Frisch by just 20 votes as of Wednesday morning in the race to fill a second Aspen School District board of education seat. Sarah Daniels was the presumptive winner of one of two open seats as the top vote-getter in the race.

Harrelson has received 1,905 votes, or 29.78%, and Frisch as received 1,885 votes, or 29.47%, according to the most recent unofficial results released by Pitkin County at 11:47 p.m. Tuesday. Daniels has received 2,231 votes, or 34.88%.

In Colorado, an automatic recount is triggered in a race with more than one person if “the difference between the votes cast for the candidate who won the election with the least votes and the candidate who lost the election with the most votes is less than or equal to one-half of one percent of the votes cast for the candidate who won the election with the least votes,” according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

The county has at least 33 ballots that need to be cured, according to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s office. The clerk’s office also said they had received a couple dozen overseas ballots as of Tuesday; there are approximately 280 overseas voters who are registered in Pitkin County and their ballots can be received by Nov. 15.

Sally Goulet has received 375 votes, or 5.86%. As of 9:45 a.m., 5,237 ballots have been cast. 

Daniels first moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2020 and has two children in the Aspen School District. Though she has not served on a school board before, she is heavily involved in the district. She leads the district accountability committee and Aspen Middle School’s accountability committee and is a board member of the Aspen Education Foundation, which raises money for public school programs.

She cited staff housing as a major issue she wants to tackle on the school board. She previously suggested going after a bond measure to secure more housing, like the 2020 bond measure that has doubled Aspen School District’s housing stock to 102 units for district staff.

Frisch was first elected to the Aspen school board in November 2019. Since her time on the board, she has served several roles including president and assistant secretary and treasurer. She also cited housing as a top priority in her campaign.

During her first term, the school board set a goal to house 100% of district staff in the next 15 years. She has also suggested going after another bond measure to meet the district’s goal. 

Harrelson, the only educator in the race, received unilateral support from the Aspen Education Association, the district’s educators union. She is a senior implementation coordinator for ExploreLearning, a company that operates an online library of interactive simulations for math and science. She works with school districts across the country to support the instruction of math and science. She was also a math specialist in the Aspen School District and has worked in school districts across the state.

While she agreed staff housing was important, she diverged from her fellow candidates, arguing that housing is not the only way to retain staff, and the district needs to reevaluate how it prioritizes who gets staff housing. 

This is a developing story. We will update as more information becomes available. 

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