Rankin holds lead over Simpson in state board of education race
Incumbent Joyce Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, held her lead over challenger Mayling Simpson, a Democrat from Steamboat Springs, in the 3rd Congressional District race for the Colorado State Board of Education.
Rankin had captured 54.3% of the vote, while Simpson earned 45.7%.
In Eagle County’s early election results, Simpson was ahead of Rankin with 57% of local votes compared to Rankin’s 43%.
While the race had not yet been called, Simpson was prepared with a concession statement.
“It was an honor and a privilege to run for the state board of education for CD3,” she said. “It was a team effort, and we did really well.”
At the Routt County Democrats virtual watch party, Simpson expressed gratitude for everyone who supported her.
“To say it was heartwarming is an understatement,” Simpson said. “It made my heart swell to see how supportive people were. I’m delighted with how well I did.”
Rankin said she would wait until the results were further along to comment, and that she was more focused on her husband’s much closer race.
Rankin’s husband, Bob Rankin, is running for reelection for the Colorado State Senate in District 8 and is currently trailing his Democratic opponent Kari Hanlon.
Joyce Rankin also commended Simpson for her hard work and for a civil campaign.
The 3rd Congressional District is located in the western and southern region of the state, and includes Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, La Plata, Lake, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, and San Miguel counties. It also includes a portion of Eagle County.
Rankin, 73, has held the seat since being appointed in August 2015 and is seeking a second term. Board members serve six-year terms.
Rankin taught elementary and middle school and served as an elementary principal. She has a master’s degree in elementary education with an administrative credential.
Simpson, 74, was elected to the Steamboat Springs Board of Education in 2017. She retired in 2019 when her husband accepted a position at the Virginia Military Institute.
Simpson has a doctorate in anthropology and also worked as a teacher at the high school and college level.
She spent most of her 40-year career abroad, living in eight different countries and working in public health and humanitarian assistance.
Simpson served as an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and was senior environmental health advisor at the World Health Organization.
Her priority as a candidate for the state board was to be a voice for rural districts, as well as improving funding for schools and teacher salaries, raising graduation rates and expanding vocational training. She was also focused on ensuring the voices of teachers were heard at the state level.
Rankin’s priorities have focused on reading and improving reading instruction, specifically work being done through the READ — Reading to Ensure Academic Development — Act.
The READ Act requires benchmark testing of students in preschool through third grade to assess literacy skills, focused on the goal that all students will be reading by third grade.
Rankin also spoke about the opportunity the pandemic brought in terms of improving online education.
While a school district’s decisions are primarily made at a local level, the state board has been providing support for schools during the pandemic.
The board also holds schools accountable for poor performance and handles other administrative functions, including appointing the commissioner of education.
One of the primary divisions between the two candidates was in allowing taxpayer dollars to fund private schools through a voucher system. Simpson took a strong position against pulling away any funding from public schools to give to private schools.
Rankin supports the voucher system and allowing private education companies to step in to manage school districts that are failing.
These results are preliminary and not official.