Candidate for Park City school board hopes to challenge ideas
Peter Yogman has years of experience in leadership roles at large companies focused on developing and operating complex energy products. But now that he’s retired, he wants to devote the skills he’s learned in business to helping students in Park City.
Yogman is one of three candidates running for the open seat in District 2 on the Park City School District Board of Education. He is running against Andrew Caplan and Catherine Callow-Heusser to represents areas such as Highland Estates, Park Meadows North, Ranch Place and Snyders Mill.
Yogman said he decided to run to make sure there were multiple candidates in District 2. He hopes to engage in constructive debate that will circulate new ideas and allow residents in the area to become better informed about the issues facing the school district. He said that’s a crucial part of the democratic process.
"I felt a civic duty to do this," he said. "I thought, ‘I’ve got to throw my hat in the ring.’ I’ve got a lot of experience."
One of the largest goals Yogman hopes to accomplish if he’s elected is ensuring the Board keeps residents educated on the issues. He was heavily involved with Citizens for Better Education, a group that fought against the district’s $56 million bond measure last fall — it ultimately failed — and argued that school leaders didn’t do enough to engage the community throughout the process.
He said it’s important to make decisions based on research and community feedback, adding that he’s good at distilling complicated information so that it’s easy to understand.
"You’ve got to educate people first on all the policy issues and show them in some simplified format so you just don’t get something based on emotion and not knowledge," said Yogman, who had two children go through Park City schools. "We have to be proactive to that type of education, so that when policy decisions are presented, people know what the choices really are and what they mean. I think I could be very good at that."
Additionally, Yogman said he would scrutinize ideas and ensure that groupthink has no place on the Board. He wants to see good ideas rise to the top through respectful but impassioned debate.
"I think it’s the duty of a board member to understand, challenge and seek alternatives to any major policy decisions," Yogman said. " We don’t want to see our educational system make suboptimal decisions. I don’t want to be in an echo chamber. I’m going to challenge everything. That’s my job."
The success of Hispanic students is another issue important to Yogman, who said he has bonds within the Hispanic community. He once lived for a month with a Mexican family in Mexico and also participated in the Niños on Skis program, in which adults spend time on the ski hill with young Hispanic students.
"I spent a lot of time with them," Yogman said. "I’d go back and visit their families, because their families were like, ‘I’m letting my kids go out with some strange guy, so who is he?’ We would sit down, and often they didn’t speak English, but the kids would translate. We’d get to know each other and share food together. So I was pretty connected that way."
Yogman also touted his ties to experts in the educational field. His cousin, Michael Yogman, is a pediatrician and an assistant professor at Harvard who has worked with the Center for the Developing Child. He said that relationship could be valuable to the Board.
"Through him, I have contacts with the best people in the nation who are experts in child development and education," he said. " That’s an additional resource that I bring to the table."
Yogman, along with Caplan and Callow-Heusser, will be on the June 28 primary ballot, where one candidate will be eliminated. The two with the most votes will move on to the November general election.
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A Parkite who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 is giving scholarships and internships to three first-generation graduates from PCHS.