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The Salt Lake City Board of Education could be saying goodbye to one of its most vocal and divisive members.
Preliminary results from Tuesday's election show incumbent Michael Clara trailing his opponent, retired educator Michael Nemelka, by 12 percentage points.
Clara, who represents the district's diverse west side, has been a controversial figure during his four years on the board.
He has filed several complaints against the district with the federal Department of Education, sued his board colleagues over alleged violations of Utah's open meetings laws and frequently sparred with administrators over what he saw as disparate treatment between students of color and their white peers.
And during several board meetings last year, Clara wore a "bandito" costume in protest of a school resource officer assigned to oversee district business.
On Wednesday, Clara said he will be proud of his time on the board if final election tallies result in the loss of his seat.
"There were changes that were made," he said. "I exposed, I believe, a corrupt system."
Clara said he respects the wishes of voters, but added that it is unfortunate that members of the community prefer a status quo of "incompetence, camouflage and corruption." He said his combative approach to district business may have cost him votes, but that the feedback he receives from parents is positive.
"Even at the grocery store," he said, "people will hug me and thank me for what I'm doing."
Nemelka currently leads Clara by a margin of 269 votes, with many ballots yet to be counted and released by the county elections office.
Nemelka said his opponent is a good man, but questioned his approach to school board business.
"I'm more of a peacemaker," Nemelka said. "I like to work with people and see if we can't get some things solved out here on the west side."
Four Salt Lake City Board of Education seats were up for election this year, including the board's president Heather Bennett.
Bennett was ahead of her opponent, Jason Stevenson, in early results, as were incumbents Tiffany Sandberg and Kristi Swett.
Stevenson lagged behind Bennett by 192 votes, and said that win or lose, he was proud of his campaign.
"I think we had a good exchange of ideas," he said.
Preliminary vote results for school district board elections within Salt Lake County. Incumbents are noted with an asterisk.
• Salt Lake City School District
*Tiffany Sandberg 52.96 percent
Teresa Organista 47.04 percent
Michael Nemelka 56.11 percent
*Michael Clara 43.89 percent
*Heather Bennett 51.82 percent
Jason Stevenson 48.18 percent
*Kristi Swett 66.63 percent
Ryan Pleune 33.37 percent
• Canyons School District
Mont Millerberg: 100 percent
*Nancy Tingey: 100 percent
*Chad Iverson: 52.68 percent
Tracy Bennett: 47.32 percent
• Granite School District
Todd Zenger 100 percent
*Connie Anderson 100 percent
*Sarah Meier 100 percent
• Jordan School District
Robyn Bishop 50.32 percent
Darrell Robinson 49.68 percent
Marilyn Richards 57.56 percent
*Kayleen Whitelock 42.44 percent
Bryce Dunford 58.88 percent
Chip Dawson 41.12 percent
*Janice Voorhies, 100 percent
• Murray School District
Glo Merrill 51.84 percent
*Maria "Mitzie" Huff 48.16 percent
Jaren Cooper 100 percent