Salt Lake City — Utah's frequently criticized process of selecting State School Board candidates reached its end Thursday, with the final 14 men and women given the go-ahead by Gov. Gary Herbert to begin an active campaign.
The final candidate list, which includes all school board incumbents seeking re-election, was whittled down from an initial pool of 70 individuals.
Per state law, candidates were first interviewed by a nominating and recruiting committee appointed by Herbert. That committee advanced three or four names per seat to the governor, who then selected the final two candidates for the November ballot.
The final candidates are:
• District 1: Terryl Warner (incumbent) and David Clark.
• District 2: Willard Maughan and Spencer Stokes.
• District 3: Michael Jensen (incumbent) and Linda Hansen.
• District 5: Laura Belnap and Mark Bouchard.
• District 6: Dan Griffiths (incumbent) and Brittney Cummins.
• District 9: Heather Groom (incumbent) and Joylin Lincoln.
• District 14: Mark Huntsman and Mike Miles.
Hansen, of West Valley City, said she is excited to get out and campaign and talk to residents about education.
"I’ve had a lot of people email me about certain issues, Common Core and other issues, and I’ve just been telling them I’m not officially on the ballot yet," she said. "I‘ve been explaining the process to them and asking them to get back to me if I get on the ballot."
Hansen, who has served on a number of community boards but has not held public office, said she had heard horror stories about the candidate selection process.
She said she valued her interviews with the nominating committee and with governor Herbert, but added that it is challenging to now face an election that is little more than three months away.
"All in all it was a really good experience, but I did mention to the governor I think it’s quite lengthy and it would be nice to know a little bit sooner so you could kind of get all your ducks in a row quicker," she said.
Jensen has served two terms on the State School Board but experienced the candidate selection process for the first time this year, as his previous election cycles did not field enough candidates to exclude names from the ballot.
He said he was relieved to have made it to the ballot and agreed that the process is lengthy, but was not worried about having enough time to effectively campaign.
"Three months is still a long time to get your word out," Jensen said.
In a prepared statement, Herbert's education adviser and former State School Board member Tami Pyfer said the governor believes the state needs board members who understand the importance of local control of education and the critical role that parents play in student success.
"The governor is pleased with the quality of the candidates he interviewed to place on the ballot for the State Board of Education," Pyfer said. "He believes it is important we have board members who understand how important excellence in education is for the future of Utah, both to help our students fulfill their potential and for our state’s long term economic strength."
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