Electoral process failed in Bourne

No opponent, no media vetting yields surprises

NO ONE KNEW much about Kari Macrae last May when she ran for a seat on the Bourne School Committee.

She ran unopposed, so there was no rival to question her credentials or challenge her policies. The lack of an opponent also meant the news media ignored the race. The news stories following the election barely mentioned her — she was listed in the last paragraph of a Bourne election wrapup in the Cape Cod Times and the next-to-last paragraph of a story in The Enterprise.

On May 18, the day she was elected, she posted a video on TikTok that offered some insight on why she had run for the post. 

“So pretty much the reason I ran for school board and the reason I’m taking on this responsibility is to ensure that students, at least in our town, are not being taught critical race theory,” MacRae said. “That they’re not being taught that the country was built on racism. So they’re not being taught that they can choose whether or not they want to be a girl or a boy. It’s one thing to include and it’s one thing to be inclusive. And it’s one thing to educate everybody about everything. It’s completely another thing to push your agenda. And, with me on the school board, that won’t happen in our town.” 

The video went largely unnoticed. Only after Macrae landed a job as a math and business teacher at Hanover High School on August 31 did that video and others she made start gaining some attention.  

On September 22, several Bourne parents, including one who was described as a member of “a two-mom parenting unit raising a transgendered child,” shared screen grabs of Macrae’s posts with Boston.com, which reported that the Bourne Educators Association was calling for her resignation. 

On September 24, Hanover High principal Matthew Mattos met with Macrae and told her he was looking into her social media posts. Five days later he terminated her, writing in a letter that “I have determined that continuing your employment in light of your social media posts would have a significant impact on student learning at HHS.” 

On November 29, Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation, filed a lawsuit against Hanover High School officials on behalf of Macrae, alleging the school district was violating her First Amendment rights. 

On December 6, Macrae announced she was running for the state Senate seat of Democrat Susan Moran with the backing of the Massachusetts Republican Party. Macrae said she had no intention of resigning from the school committee if she was elected to the Senate. 

“Definitely,” MacRae said in an interview with the Cape Cod Times. “My career path is done as a teacher for right now,” . It will take me a few years to work on that. But I want people to know I’m committed to the (school) board. I want people to know I’m not a racist or bigot or transphobe. I just want to be active and let people know there are things that should not be taught in the schools.” 

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Two days later Anne-Marie Siroonian, a former chair of the Bourne School Committee, launched an effort to recall Macrae. She said Bourne is an inclusive community and Macrae’s social media posts are “rooted in hate.” Siroonian said she would run for Macrae’s seat if the recall is successful.

No matter where you stand on Macrae’s views, it seems clear the electoral process failed in the town of Bourne. With no competition for her school committee seat and no media scrutiny of Macrae, she took office as an unknown quantity. The time to learn where a candidate stands on issues is before an election, not after.