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Gov. Gary Herbert selects Utah state school board candidates

By Lisa Schencker

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 31 2014 11:39AM
Updated Aug 22, 2014 03:04PM

The governor has chosen 14 candidates to appear on the November ballot for seven state school board seats, including all the interested incumbents, his office announced Thursday.

Originally, about 70 Utahns filed to run for seven seats on the 15-member board that oversees and guides education in Utah. As required by state law, a governor-appointed committee then narrowed the field to 37 candidates and interviewed them.

The committee then voted on at least three candidates for each seat to send to the governor, who was tasked with choosing two to appear on the ballot.

It’s a process that’s drawn criticism for years with many claiming it takes choice out of voters’ hands. In years past, some incumbents didn’t make it onto the ballot. But lawmakers have been unable to reach agreement on how to change the process, with some pushing to make the races partisan and others trying to make them nonpartisan but direct.

This year, Breck England, whom the committee rejected as a candidate for the board’s District 5 seat, filed a lawsuit claiming the process is unconstitutional and that the committee practiced "viewpoint discrimination" in violation of the First Amendment when selecting candidates. Similar lawsuits have been filed in years past.

But many have praised this year’s process as the most open and straightforward in years, thanks largely to committee chairman and former House Speaker Nolan Karras. The committee conducted all of its deliberations and voting in public, unlike in some previous years.

"This was a really sincere, conscious effort to put in not candidates that had one vision or another, one political leaning or another," said Debra Roberts, a state school board member who is not running for re-election. Her sister also served on the committee. "They made the best of a bad process."

Candidates selected by the governor include:

• District 1 (parts of Morgan, Rich, Box Elder and Cache counties):

David L. Clark, an associate vice president at Utah State University

Terryl Warner, incumbent and victim advocate at the Cache County Attorney’s Office

• District 2 (Weber County):

Spencer F. Stokes, government relations

Willard Z. Maughan, physician

• District 3 (Tooele County and part of Salt Lake County around Magna and West Valley City):

Michael G. Jensen, incumbent and Department of Veterans Affairs employee

Linda B. Hansen, former Utah PTA officer

• District 5 (includes much of Davis County around Bountiful, Farmington, Kaysville)

Laura Collier Belnap, principal for Washington County School District’s online school

Mark H. Bouchard, senior managing director at CBRE Inc., former chairman of Prosperity 2020

• District 6 (parts of Salt Lake County around Taylorsville and West Jordan)

Dan Griffiths, incumbent and consultant, director of strategic planning for Tanner LLC

Brittney Cummins, board member of Endeavor Hall charter school in West Valley City

• District 9 (includes parts of Utah County such as Lehi, Pleasant Grove and Goshen):

Heather Groom, incumbent and owner of Foresite LC, research consultant and vice president of sales for MojaWorks

Joylin Lincoln, board of trustees member of Lakeview Academy of Science, Arts and Technology charter school

• District 14 (includes most of the bottom half of Utah, except the southwest corner):

Mike Miles, civil engineer for the Utah Department of Transportation

Mark A. Huntsman, civil engineering consultant, manager/senior vice president, Sunrise Engineering Inc.

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