With Election Day approaching, the rift between two Park City Board of Education candidates has widened after a controversial campaign strategy was employed earlier this week.
A political campaign ad by interim board member Mandy Pomeroy featuring a photo of her opponent Meredith Reed and Reed’s children was posted on the doors of Jeremy Ranch on Tuesday. The women compete for the seat in District 4, which represents districts north of Interstate 80 such as Hidden Cove, Glenwild, and Silver Creek.
Reed became aware of the door hangers the morning before a school board debate hosted by the Park City Rotary Club. She and Pomeroy attended the event, as did the candidates vying for the District 5 seat: incumbent CEO Erin Grady and Nick Hill, a parent of Parleys Park.
After responding to a question from the audience, Reed turned her attention to Pomeroy. She said she was upset that the image was posted without her permission and urged Pomeroy to stop using it.
Pomeroy defended use of the image, saying it was “referenced” in Reed’s campaign materials. Reed said in an interview that the photo was printed on a postcard she sent ahead of the June 28 primary election.
“It’s my kids that are in this school district that aren’t your kids. So please stop using her image in your campaign material,” Reed said during the debate.
The Park City School District has a policy that prohibits the posting of pictures of students without their parents’ permission. Pomeroy is considered a school official as she is a sitting member of the Board of Education. However, Heidi Matthews, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the policy does not apply because the image was not used in a district publication.
Pomeroy told Reed that they could talk at another time. However, Reed said she wanted to continue it. Reed again asked Pomeroy to stop using pictures of her children in campaign materials.
“I don’t think that’s the point,” Pomeroy replied.
Reed countered, “I think as a member of the school board using pictures of kids from that district, that’s absolutely part of this conversation.”
But the tense exchange didn’t end after the debate.
Reed told The Park Record that she was approached by a woman who asked to speak to her after the Rotary club event. The woman, who Reed identified as Pomeroy’s mother, allegedly became aggressive. Reed said she was trying to get out of an awkward situation when the woman grabbed her arm and became more confrontational. According to a cease and desist letter provided by Reed to The Park Record, she is considering pursuing physical assault charges.
Pomeroy did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
The Oct. 19 letter alleges that Pomeroy and her mother engaged in illegal and immoral conduct that “exceeds the limits of courtesy and fair play and generally acceptable conduct which must be demonstrated by a Park City officer.” hurt.
It documents several complaints regarding Pomeroy’s campaign, including alleged violations of school district policy and the reproduction of Reed’s photo without her permission. An attorney representing Reed advised Pomeroy to collect and destroy all campaign materials containing the image, with proof required by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday or legal action would be instituted.
Pomeroy’s campaign has also been accused of false political advertising. The picture of Reed and her children was accompanied by a text that said, “Don’t you want a district executive representing YOU closer to our schools than the bus stop?” Reed took the message as not being active in the school district , other than picking up their kids, which they don’t think is true.
“You are in direct violation of this law,” the cease and desist letter from Reed’s attorney said. “Additionally, it is commendable that she takes the time to make sure her children feel safe and loved as they board the school bus. Ashamed that you publicly slandered her for taking care of her children.”
The letter also included text, apparently sent by the school district, endorsing Pomeroy for the Board of Education. Matthews said it was not broadcast by the school district, which does not endorse school board candidates.
“Yesterday we were made aware of a campaign SMS that appeared to be from PCSD in error. District officials did some research and determined that the message was not from the Park City School District. We have received an email from the candidate who takes responsibility for the error and promises to correct it. At that point we have identified the specific problem to be solved for our purpose,” said Matthews.
Pomeroy was unanimously appointed to take over the seat vacated by Kara Hendrickson following her death in April. Reed and Josh Mann, who did not advance to the general election, declined to run for the vacancy to avoid a possible unfair advantage.
Earlier this month, Pomeroy received confirmation from the Summit County Republican Party. The Board of Education race is non-partisan. Pomeroy, who said she is an independent voter, attributed the support to her experience rather than a political party.
Reed is the former leader of the Summit County Democratic Party. She has received support from Utah Parents for Teachers, the Park City Board of Realtors, and several county Democrats.
Reed received the most votes in the primaries with a total of 519 or 35%. Pomeroy received 493 votes, or 33.24%.
Ballots for the November 8 election were sent out earlier this week and should be arriving in mailboxes soon. The last day to register to vote is October 28th.