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Two Tulsa-area school board members will keep their seats for another four years after defeating challenges from the far-right.

Tulsa Public Schools Board President Stacey Woolley and Bixby Public Schools Board President Matt Dodson easily won re-election Tuesday night. Woolley and Dodson board received nearly 70% of the vote in their respective elections.

Woolley and Dodson’s challengers were both backed by the far-right conservative group Moms for Liberty. They also received backing from Ryan Walters and significant support from the Tulsa County GOP.

Far-right challenge to school board incumbents surrounded by controversy

Controversy arose in both races. In Bixby, challenger Julie Bentley posted a statement to Facebook after a campaign mailer raised questions. The mailer inferred Bentley had the endorsement of Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell and Congressman Kevin Hern. Neither Hern nor Pinnell endorsed any candidate in the Bixby school board race.

In the Tulsa race, candidate Jared Buswell drew concern with comments he made at an event hosted by a far-right group. Buswell, the leader of a faith-based nonprofit, told the crowd in attendance he was running “against systemic demonic strongholds that have been occupying our schools for too long.”

The group Buswell was speaking to, The City Elders, has been a vocal opponent of LGBTQ+ rights, among other things.

On Election Day itself, several supporters of Buswell held signs outside of schools and polling places. One supporter, standing outside of a Tulsa Elementary School, was seen on camera openly carrying two handguns while parents dropped their children off for the day. The move prompted the school to change its dismissal plans to ensure student safety.

In response to her victory on Tuesday night, Woolley told supporters the election results were “a mandate” from Tulsans.

“Tulsans sent a very loud message… that we believe in teaching real history, protecting our 2SLGBTQIA+ students and their families and keeping books on library shelves,” Woolley said.

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...

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