Small school board primary election highlights big issues
Ryan Summerlin June 17, 2014
Four candidates vying to represent their neighbors on the Park City Board of Education are campaigning with more gusto than voters have seen in past years from some countywide candidates. It is a refreshing example of the democratic process at its best.
So far the rhetoric has been directed at a number of controversial school-related topics not at each other. And the resumes they offer are impressive from years of volunteering at local schools to professional credentials in finance.
The four candidates running to represent District 5, which includes Lower Silvercreek, Upper Silvercreek, Lower Pinebrook, Pinebrook North, Summit Park East, Summit Park West, Upper Pinebrook and Wagon Wheel, are (in alphabetical order) Julie Eihausen, Ed Lowsma, Julie Nirula and Doug Payne. The top two vote getters in next Tuesday’s primary will battle each other in November’s general election.
It is remarkable that this one seat, on a local school board has drawn such passionate interest. Many communities find it difficult to find anyone to run for their school boards, let alone field enough candidates to call for a primary runoff.
Serving on a school board is often a thankless task with constituents reluctant to support tax increases while also demanding top notch services for their children. Also, these days, in addition to the normal challenges of trimming budgets to fit shrinking revenues and meeting new federal and states educational testing mandates, school boards are often faced with emotional decisions regarding school violence and social values.
It is a wonder anyone is willing to serve.
Park City is extremely fortunate to have such a varied and intelligent slate of school board candidates. They have raised important questions about the proposed $5 million expenditure for a new administrative/special programs building and about the costs associated with the current dual-immersion language programs. Each seems well informed, fiscally responsible and genuinely committed to educating local children without any sort of personal agenda.
We can only hope the November election, which will include county council seats, county department head positions, state legislative post and — perhaps most importantly congressional seats, will be as filled with integrity and high-minded debate.
Early voting closes Friday and then polls will reopen on primary day, this coming Tuesday, June 24, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.