Election 2021: Schumé Navarro wants more viewpoints on Cherry Creek school board

Candidate attended Jan. 6 rally that ignited U.S. Capitol riot

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This is a profile of one of the three candidates for the District D seat on the Cherry Creek School District's board.

As a student at Cherry Creek High School, Schumé Navarro wasn't doing the best academically, weighed down by life at home and having trouble learning.

But her guidance counselor saw a “creative, entrepreneur spirit” in her and helped her into a trade program that allowed Navarro to go to beauty school in the afternoons, Navarro said. By the time she graduated, she had become a licensed cosmetologist.

The counselor “had foresight to put me in a position that would really change the trajectory of my life,” Navarro said.

She went on to do volunteer work with teen mothers through an organization called Mothers of Preschoolers, providing young moms with parenting classes and other resources.

“I was a young, single mom, and so I just had a really big heart for those ladies,” Navarro said.

Now she's running to represent Cherry Creek school board District D, the area that encompasses parts of east Centennial and southeast Aurora. Navarro's opponents are Jennifer Gibbons and incumbent Kelly Bates.

Navarro, 35, grew up in the Centennial-Aurora area as well as in Englewood. About 10 years ago, she started Peacock Vanity, a business that specializes in event hair and airbrush makeup, Navarro said.

She now lives in Centennial, with one child in the Cherry Creek School District and another in a charter school.

Having been a single mom and “living that low-income life, I have some insight into some areas in the district that a lot of people in the school board, maybe they don't have that life experience,” Navarro said in an interview.

She came from parents who were “tradespeople” — her mom owned a housecleaning business and her dad worked as a carpenter for custom homes, she said.

'Pronoun agenda'

Navarro was chosen to be secertary of the Arapahoe County Republican Party this year, and among her main reasons to run for school board was her concern about curriculum in the district, Navarro said.

Regarding the teaching of racial issues, Navarro said: “I think we need to continue to push on recognizing and meeting the needs of the individual versus putting kids in complete boxes based on their skin color.”

Navarro, who is Hispanic, said in response to a Centennial Citizen issues questionnaire that she is “adamantly against teaching that is not American exceptionalism.”

She's suspicious of the medical facilities that Cherry Creek School District is creating, arguing that it's not the proper role of a school district to facilitate health care.

The district recently kicked off building two school-based health centers that are slated to open to district students and families in January. They'll offer primary-care clinics that can provide mental health, dental and vision care, according to the district.

“When you have teachers that are pushing this pronoun agenda, I'm concerned about what that could look like,” Navarro said, also bringing up “gender dysphoria” and the possibility of kids consenting to medical treatment on their own.

Asked whether she was suggesting that the district's medical facilities would be performing sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy, Navarro said: “I mean, I guess it's just, what kind of services are they going to be providing? Are they going to be giving out birth control? Are they going to be vaccinating our kids? … Just, what does it look like?”

Navarro added: “I am not against the gay community or anything like that. I am actually endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans.” Log Cabin Republicans describes itself on its website as "the nation’s largest Republican organization dedicated to representing LGBT conservatives and allies."

Navarro, who said she has friends who are gay, said sexual orientation is not the issue to her.

“The issue is almost grooming kids to be a trans-like existence,” Navarro said. “I think it should happen naturally, not by (the district's actions). … It's not age-appropriate.”

She added: “I'm like, love who you want to love, be who you want to be. I just think that when it's supposed to be time for education, asking kids what their pronouns are (is inappropriate).”

At the U.S. Capitol

Navarro attended the Jan. 6 rally near the White House where then-President Donald Trump spoke — a rally that preceded the riot that day at the U.S. Capitol.

“My lived experience was completely different than how the media has portrayed it,” Navarro said. She added: “You had Trump talking at the start of it, and after he talked, that's when people started walking down there (to the Capitol). It was like a low-energy football game.

“Then we were down on the (Capitol) grounds for a little bit; eventually we were hungry … we left and ate dinner,” said Navarro, who said she went to the rally by herself and “met up with random people.” She had walked from the White House to the Capitol grounds with the crowd from the rally at the end of the rally, she said.

Navarro said she wasn't at the Capitol doors or on the steps.

“We left, and I think what happened is it progressively maybe got worse. It's hard to know,” said Navarro, adding that she did not see people fighting with police or pushing down barriers.

She said she did not participate in any criminal aspect of the events. “I believe in civics and having your voice be heard,” Navarro said.

When she was planning to go to the rally, her impression was that “it was 'go support the president for election integrity and just show the support,'” she said.

Navarro said she reposted on the internet a video from Twitter that shows some of the crowd's actions close to the Capitol building. She said the video showed that there were “instigators” of the violence and that someone screamed “antifa, antifa!”

The crowd that showed up and stormed the Capitol was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, the Associated Press reported as of Jan. 10. The AP's reporting was based on social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records. Reuters and other national and international news outlets reported that evidence doesn't show that antifa caused the riot.

Five people died in the attack, including a police officer, the AP reported.

Navarro also commented to the Citizen about a photo of her posing with a large letter Q — a symbol often associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory — at a rally for Trump in February 2020.

"The Q thing was a prank to try to get on the screen" at the rally, Navarro said.

The QAnon conspiracy theory emerged on fringe internet message boards in 2017, the AP reported. At root, the movement claims Trump is waging a secret battle against the “deep state” and a sect of powerful devil-worshipping pedophiles who dominate Hollywood, big business, the media and government, according to the AP.

“I would say that I've always been one to kind of question authority, question government,” Navarro said. She added: “I enjoyed some creative thought, and it was something you'd look online and follow the memes, make a couple memes.”

Navarro said regarding how QAnon “is represented by the media, that was not my lived experience. It was literally a distraction that was harmless. It was a phase.” She said it hasn’t been an aspect of her life lately, and she feels it's unreasonable to think it would influence her decision making if she were elected to school board.

She compared people deeply involved in QAnon to situations where "you have some people who are weirdly into the 'Twilight' series or the 'Lord of the Rings.'" She said she was aware that QAnon involves claims about sex trafficking and said talk regarding Jeffrey Epstein's legal case was part of what interested her.

Asked whether she was aware that QAnon backers were trying to overturn the election results or help cause a riot at the Capitol, Navarro said: “No, it (QAnon) was just a space where you want to support the president … You have fray outliers in every group, I'm sure. But (that's) not at all like what I was connected to at all.”

Navarro also has expressed support for Trump's unproven claim that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent; she said that then-President-elect Joe Biden wouldn't become president and that there was a “coup” behind Biden's impending presidency. (She expressed the opinions in a video posted on Rumble, a rival video platform to YouTube.)

"If you look at (Biden) and his cognitive decline, when he says things like, 'I’m gonna get in trouble for answering questions', ... are we all truly believing he is the president and he’s making the decisions?" Navarro now says.

Different voice

Navarro noted the relatively small number of contributions her campaign for school board has received, calling her effort “grassroots.”

Two notable contributions were both from current Centennial City Council candidates: $100 from Robyn Carnes and $250 from Neal Davidson, according to Colorado Secretary of State's Office records online.

Navarro said she participated in the Leadership Program of the Rockies with Carnes and, through being a county GOP officer, met Davidson. The Leadership Program of the Rockies is an effort to train “emerging leaders to reach new heights in public policy and the political process,” its website says. Alumni photos suggest it used to be called the Republican Leadership Program.

Regarding Carnes and Davidson, Navarro said: “I think they're both really awesome people that are just really unifiers and will do really well in their prospective roles,” Navarro said.

She said some parents feel like “they don't hear their viewpoints represented at all” on the Creek school board.

She feels that her life experience differs from that of other Cherry Creek candidates, partly because she was a student in the district.

“I think my life experience of going the route of a trade versus the pipeline from high school to college to career — I have a very different journey, and I think that it could add some insight to the discussions on the school board,” Navarro said.

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