The Park City Board of Education is poised to swear in new members next year after what appears to be a successful campaign by two candidates in Districts 4 and 5.
Preliminary midterm election results released Thursday night by the Office of the Summit County Clerk suggest incumbents in the school board race, Mandy Pomeroy and Erin Grady, will not retain their seats. Instead, voters chose their challengers.
Meredith Reed received 760 more votes than Pomeroy in the District 4 contest, with nearly 3,000 ballots tallied. Pomeroy, who was appointed to the vacant seat in the spring, received 891 votes, or 35% of the vote. Reed received the most votes in the primary, with Pomeroy also advancing, but the candidates separated by just 2% of the vote at the time. District 4’s seat includes areas north of Interstate 80 such as Jeremy Ranch, Hidden Cove, Glenwild and Silver Creek.
The election appeared less decisive in District 5, with only 111 votes between candidates and 2,683 ballots counted. Nick Hill received 1,168 votes, or 52%, while Grady, the current CEO, received 1,057 votes, or 47%. The seat represents counties south of I-80 such as Pinebrook and Summit Park.
Although the results are preliminary, there are not enough ballots remaining for the Summit County Clerk’s office to count to change the result.
Pomeroy and Grady both conceded.
“I have been honored to serve as an interim member of the Park City School Board,” Pomeroy said in a statement to The Park Record. “Running for political office is no small thing. I’m proud to have put my name in this race. I wish the best to the two candidates elected by this city and hope they will keep the best interests of our community and our students at heart.”
Grady also said it has been a privilege to serve the community for the past five years. She was first appointed to the Park City Board of Education in 2017 and ran unchallenged for a full term in 2018.
“I’m proud to be handed a bond, to remain open during the pandemic, to give employees the biggest raise in history, and to be ready to resume negotiations early,” she said in an email. “I am very grateful for the great people who make up our district, including our teachers, administration, volunteers, bus drivers and everyone who touches and changes the lives of our children every day.”
Reed and Hill ran on platforms striving to bring communication and transparency to the school board. The challenger’s success is a message from voters that they want to see change on the board, Hill said.
“People are really willing to see the school board differently. To see transparency, honesty, communication and accountability for some of the things that went wrong,” he said in an interview. “If you look at the results in District 4 and District 5, that’s what voters really asked us to do.”
Competition in District 4 became heated at times as the bipartisan race became involved in politics and controversy. The Hill and Grady race in District 5 was less controversial because the candidates focused on issues of honesty and accountability in the Park City School District.
Hill’s top priority for the new January semester is to improve the connection between the school district, the Board of Education and the public. He also wants to help rebuild broken trust and start “spotting missteps” on issues like mask mandates in the pandemic era and building without the necessary permits. Reed did not respond to a request for comment prior to the time of publication.
“I think people were really uncomfortable with some of the things that were happening in the school district,” Hill said. “It’s very difficult to change incumbents in Utah elections… I think [the preliminary school board results] speaks really loud and clear to people who want to see things differently and I hope that resonates with the other three board members.”
East Side voters were also asked to elect school board representatives.
Incumbent Kevin Orgill retained his seat in District 4 of the North Summit School District, receiving 186 votes, or 57%, as of Thursday night. His challenger, Marilyn Blakely, received 148 votes, or nearly 43%, from 339 ballots counted. Vern Williams ran unopposed in District 5.
Matthew Weller defeated incumbent Steven Hardman for the South Summit Board District 4 seat. Weller received 428 votes, or 53%, compared to Hardman’s 376 votes. The Clerk’s Office counted 1,132 ballots for the contest.
The District 5 race between Olivia Gunnerson and Troy Beckstead had a bigger difference. Gunnerson received 302 votes, or nearly 67%, while Beckstead received 149 votes with 512 ballots counted.
The results of the general election are not official until they are confirmed on November 22nd.