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Heated election: Carroll ISD school board race drives high voter turnout

Both Southlake precincts reported more than 40% voter turnout Tuesday evening, while most precincts in Tarrant County reported voter turnouts in the single digits.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas — It’s one of the biggest races to watch in Tarrant County.

Tuesday, voters poured into Southlake Town Hall, divided on who should fill a vacant Carroll ISD school board seat.

At the center of the heated school board race: a diversity and equality plan named the Cultural Competency Action Plan (CCAP). The hot-button issue surrounding the school board race drew a high voter turnout.

As of Tuesday evening at 7 p.m., both Southlake precincts reported more than 40% voter turnout. It’s a much higher number than a majority or precincts in Tarrant County, where voter turnout was only in the single digits.

Candidate Stephanie Williams, a Carroll ISD parent and former teacher, stood outside amongst her supporters.

She said her campaign’s focus is to end the back and forth shouting at school board meetings.

“I want us to get back to talking about those students. I believe that we’ve been distracted by politics and all the noise, and if we get back to having conversations about students, we’re gonna find common ground,” Williams said.

Across town square, a group of people rallied in support of candidate Andrew Yeager. Yeager is a Carroll parent and news sales executive.

He’s been outspoken about the CCAP during previous public meetings and says his main focus is on the school budget.  

“We represent the parents. We’re not a conduit for students with radical ideas. We represent the parents and the taxpayers,” Yeager said.

WFAA reached out to Yeager repeatedly for weeks. Tuesday, he spoke to WFAA reporter William Joy.

“I don’t believe that direct politics should influence how education policy and curriculum is put together. Let’s teach our students how to think, not what to think,” Yeager said.

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Emma Niewald, a Southlake voter and former student at Carroll ISD felt passionate about the school board race. She voted for Williams.

“I just feel so embarrassed and ashamed to be a part of this community, and so I really hope that we can get leadership that will better represent everyone here,” said Niewald.

Another Southlake voter, Gene Upshaw, voted for Yeager.

“I’m against all this liberalism that’s going on in the whole country,” said Upshaw. “I’m anti-critical race theory, and I think it’s the parent’s job to teach them that.”

Encyclopedia Britannica defines critical race theory as an intellectual movement which holds that race is a culturally invented category used to oppress people of color. Additionally, critical race theory is the idea that the law and legal institutions in the U.S. are inherently racist and function to create a maintain social, political, and economic inequalities between white and non-while people.

RELATED: Parents speak out at Carroll ISD meeting after teachers reportedly asked to share 'opposing perspective' about Holocaust

The candidate who wins the school board seat will hold it until May 2022. There will be a runoff election to determine who will hold this seat for the full three-year term. 

Both candidates said they felt supported in the moments leading up to polls closing.

“Whatever happens, we’re ready to do it all again in May for the permanent position,” said Williams.

All of the votes were in by 10 p.m. Tuesday, showing Yeager as victorious with 65% of the vote.