AR Briefly

Lone incumbent holds onto seat on Bentonville School Board

By: - November 9, 2022 7:41 pm
headshots of Jennifer Faddis and Gail Pianalto

Incumbent Jennifer Faddis (left) defeated Gail Pianalto in the Bentonville School Board Zone 2 election.

Jennifer Faddis kept her position on the Bentonville School Board by defeating Gail Pianalto in the Zone 2 race with nearly 58% of the vote Tuesday. Faddis joined the board in 2020.

Twelve candidates were seeking five positions on the board, which restructured itself last year to create two at-large positions and five geographic zones. Previously, all seven members represented specific areas. The at-large members were not up for re-election. 

Although school board elections are nonpartisan, conservative political action committee the 1776 Project endorsed five of the candidates for the borad — Pianalto, Yoselin Bolivar, Joel Dunning, Tim Rosenau and Matt Smith. None of those candidates reported receiving any money from the 1776 Project PAC, though Pianalto’s campaign reported receiving $100 from the Republican Women of Benton County.

The endorsements are an example of a national trend of conservative groups influencing local school board elections with money and endorsements. Joel Dunning was the only endorsed candidate to win their election.

“I’m humbled tonight and excited tonight at the statement that was made,” Faddis said in a video shared on social media. “So thank you for your votes, thank you for your encouragement, thank you for your support.”

In a Facebook post, Pianalto said she felt blessed by all the people who supported her during the campaign.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for each new friendship and the deepening of existing ones through this season,” she wrote. “I’m excited to see what God has next in His plan for my life, and to Him be the glory!”

The Zone 3 and Zone 5 races will head to a runoff Dec. 6 because no on received more than 50% of the vote. No candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project advanced to the runoff.

When the election is over, Bentonville School Board members will draw to decide when they will be up for election next so their terms will be staggered. Board members typically serve five-year terms. 


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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.