Eihausen beats out Payne for Park City School Board
After winning a seat on the Park City Board of Education on Tuesday against a candidate who shares many of her policy views, Julie Eihausen said it all came down to the community identifying her commitment to public service.
She received 720 votes, or 58.5 percent, to Doug Payne’s 511 votes, or 41.5 percent, according to preliminary results. The official results are expected to be released when they are canvassed next week.
"I would hope that it’s my reputation and my long-term history of volunteering and setting goals and being able to accomplish those goals," Eihausen said Wednesday about what made the difference in the election. "I’ve worked with multiple groups in the community, and I think people know that if you set your mind to something, you can accomplish it."
A potential conflict of interest Payne faced questions about during the election may have also played a role. Payne’s wife is a full-time math teacher within the district. Eihausen said during her campaign that would inhibit him from being able to participate in votes or discussions pertaining to issues such as teacher salary negotiations. Though Payne was adamant throughout the campaign that his wife’s employment status didn’t alter his ability to serve fully on the board, Eihausen said it was likely something voters considered.
"If I was a layperson, someone going in cold and voting, that would have been something I would have looked at," she said. "I do think Doug has the ability and the potential to take himself out of the equation and make a decision. But I don’t know that would have been acceptable to our community."
Eihausen and Payne ran on similar platforms, emphasizing the need for the school board to establish a sustainable budget. Eihausen said evaluating individual programs within the district will be one of the first issues she’ll press when she takes over for current board member Michael Boyle in January. Boyle did not seek reelection.
"I really would like to see a program budget prepared, so we can look and see what a program is costing the district and what the district is getting back on that investment," she said. "We don’t have the budget to let programs go if they’re not 100 percent effective."
In addition to tackling the budget, Eihausen will focus on making the board transparent to the community, something the current board has at times failed to do, she said.
"We’ve got to involve our community in our decisions and we’ve got to listen to them," she said. "It shouldn’t take hundreds of letters for our school district and board to listen to people."
For his part, Payne was disappointed with the result of the election but said Eihausen has all of the qualifications to be a successful board member.
"We had almost exactly the same agendas," he said, adding that he reached out to her Wednesday morning to offer his support. "She’ll do a great job."
He didn’t rule out running again in two years. Though it may not be in District 4, as he and his wife may move to downsize their home.
Incumbent Steven Hardman will keep his seat in South Summit’s District 4, where he earned 55.3 percent of the vote (208 total) to hold off challenger Lisa Kay Farmer (44.7 percent; 168 total), according to the preliminary results.
In South Summit District 5, Debra Blazzard got 60.8 percent of the vote (206 total) to beat Stephanie Waters (39.2 percent; 133 votes).
J.J. Ehlers ran unopposed in Park City District 4. Kevin Orgill and Vern Williams ran unopposed in North Summit Districts 4 and 5, respectively.