A line winds around a corner onto Brackett Street at Howard C. Reiche Community School in Portland on Tuesday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Portland voters elected three representatives to the Board of Public Education in Tuesday’s elections, which included a ranked-choice runoff to decide a three-way race for an at-large seat.

Yusuf Yusuf, 40, a mental health case manager, won the at-large seat with 55 percent of the vote after the runoff, city officials said early Wednesday, but they didn’t provide a detailed breakdown of the final result.

Before the runoff, Stacey Hang, 44, a school nurse, was ahead slightly in the at-large race with 16,091 votes (39 percent), followed by Yusuf, who had 15,839 votes (38 percent) and Nyalat Biliew, 25, a public health worker, who had 9,436 votes (23 percent). Yusuf will replace Mark Balfantz, who didn’t seek re-election.

All Portland elections are now decided by ranked-choice voting, which means a candidate must get more than 50 percent of the votes to win. If a race has more than two candidates and no one wins in the first round, the city conducts instant runoffs to determine the winner.

Each school board race on Tuesday’s ballot was for a three-year term.

Aura Russell-Bedder, 43, a social worker, won the District 4 seat with 58 percent of the vote in a race against Chris Vail, 49, a firefighter. The vote was 4,710-3,356. District 4 includes East Deering and part of Deering Center. Russell-Bedder will replace Tim Atkinson, who didn’t seek re-election.

Jeffrey Irish, 45, a supervisor with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, won the District 5 seat with 53 percent of the vote in a race against Anthony Emerson, 25, a cashier and freelance journalist. The vote was 4,286-3,742. District 5 includes parts of Deering Center, North Deering and Riverton. Irish will replace Marnie Morrione, who didn’t seek re-election.

Candidates in all three school board races said recent community debate over the school resource officer program, which the board ultimately discontinued, were among the reasons they decided to run, along with school spending, student equity, staff diversity, COVID-19 response and school building needs.


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