IFAS | Freedom Writer | June/July 1993 | buffalo.html

Coalition defeated in Buffalo contest

On June 9, in a near-record turnout of 8,000 voters, residents of the Williamsville School District (near Buffalo, New York) defeated three school board candidates backed by the Christian Coalition. The school district has been embroiled in controversy co ncerning the proper role of religion in public schools. Last year, when the board officially took a strong stand on the separation between church and state, the religious right vowed to oust the three board members who were up for reelection.

Altogether, six candidates challenged the three incumbents. In an unusual move, the moderate incumbents ran as a bloc, to stand as a united front against the religious right.

The Christian Coalition distributed voter guides based on candidate questionnaires in churches throughout the school district. The three winning incumbents declined to answer the Christian Coalition questionnaire.

The incumbents' success is attributed to the formation of a local mainstream voter's coalition, good media coverage, and grass roots organizing. The coalition included the Pro-Choice Network, the PTA council, a teacher's union, concerned individuals, and a new group organized to challenge the religious right, dEMOCRACY - A Voter's Network.

Importantly, the Pro-Choice Network conducted a voter identification survey, by which the coalition mobilized enough moderate voters to return the incumbents to office. In addition, 5,000 flyers were distributed to the identified voters.

Two members of the nine-member board are sympathetic to the agenda of the Christian Coalition. The two will be up for reelection next year.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.