Salt Lake County Republican delegates halted embattled state school board member Natalie Cline’s reelection bid, selecting her opponent, Amanda Bollinger, as the sole GOP candidate for the November ballot.

Among the Salt Lake County GOP delegates who live in the state board District 9 boundaries, 63.1% cast ballots for Bollinger while 36.8% voted for Cline, the incumbent.

Bollinger was assured a spot on the primary ballot after collecting a sufficient number of valid signatures to run for the District 9 seat on the Utah State Board of Education, but earlier Saturday she said she preferred to garner at least 60% of the delegate vote.

Despite numerous calls for Cline’s resignation and censure votes by both the Utah Legislature and the Utah State Board of Education after she posted a photo of a high school basketball player on social media that implied the student is transgender, she elected to remain in the race.

Ballots cast by delegates were counted by hand after the technology the party had planned to use malfunctioned. As party members counted votes, representatives of Cline’s and Bollinger’s campaigns observed the count.

Once it became apparent that Cline had not received a sufficient number of votes to advance to the primary ballot, she rushed out of the auditorium of Cottonwood High School, where the convention was conducted.

Bollinger, meanwhile, quietly embraced family members but held off celebrating until the results were announced.

Following the vote, Bollinger met with reporters and responded to the outcome of delegates’ vote: “Parents and our delegates, they’re making a statement our goal is to protect our children and that we want to make sure they are safe in schools and those of us who are leaders are also prioritizing the safety in our children.”

A career educator, school administrator and coach, Bollinger started her career at Cottonwood High School and the teenage girl in Cline’s Facebook post attends school in the Granite School District.

“It makes me feel like all things happen for a reason, that it is time for me to serve our state,” she said.

Bollinger said the outcome means “people care about kids and it means people are willing to trust me to put the trust of education back in the system.”

Both candidates addressed the delegates prior to the vote.

Cline said she would “continue to fight until my dying breath to protect the children of our state.”

She said “divisive ideologies are being taught” in Utah public schools and “malpractice” of mental health therapies is happening in schools.

Students are being turned into activists with some educators “encouraging them to agitate for social change within your school and outside of the school and this is not academic excellence. This is indoctrination and it needs to stop,” Cline said.

Bollinger said she champions children’s safety and parental involvement in schools, calling it “a cornerstone of student success.”

She said her ability to make decisions and find solutions “is rooted in facts and collaborations with parents, teachers and other leaders and not for any political agenda or ideology.”

“In these challenging times, we need to unify and not divide. I am a leader that can help bring people together I will work tirelessly to bridge the gaps between stakeholders.”

While Cline’s reelection hopes ended with the delegate vote, she has eight months remaining on her current term, although she no longer serves on board committees, which was part of the discipline leveled by the Utah State Board of Education for the social media post that singled out a Utah public school student. They also voted on Feb. 14 to censure her, which was harshest punishment the board could impose.

The following day, the Utah Legislature took the unprecedented step of also publicly censuring Cline, opting not to impeach her. Legislative leaders, along with many state, county and locally elected officials leaders, urged her to resign but she elected to remain in the race.

Bollinger’s campaign contributions far outpaced Cline’s, and some of her campaign donors included Gov. Spencer Cox, who contributed $5,000; Lt. Gov Deidre Henderson, who gave $1,000; and Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, and his spouse Beverly, who contributed $3,000.

The Education First Utah PAC, led by Gail Miller, recently retired Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson and retired Questar CEO Ron Jibson, contributed $5,000.

Many teachers volunteered to support Bollinger, some noting they appreciate that she is a fellow educator and works collaboratively to improve public education for students.

Mirinda Wessman, who is also an educator, said she supported Bollinger because she is an educator and “I feel like she has all of the kids’ best interest in mind.”

Conversely, “Natalie Cline doesn’t support all of our children. She appeals to fears. She doesn’t have a background as an educator and she’s a fear monger.”

Wessman said the delegates’ vote was a relief.

“I almost want to cry because it’s finally over,” she said.