Three candidates are on the June 28 primary ballot for Alpine School Board District 4. Because this is a non-partisan race, the function of the primary is to reduce the field of three to two, for the November general election.
Because of redistricting, two candidates in this race, Sarah Beeson and Amber Bonner, are incumbents, each seeking a second term on the board. They are joined on the ballot by Lana Nelson.
Alpine School Board District 4 includes Highland, Alpine, Cedar Hills, and roughly the northern half of American Fork.
Remember how I said Tuesday night that there were two races to watch, because — mostly thanks to mail-in ballots — the school board results were too close to call? Utah County just released updated vote counts, and the second (prospective) winner in each race has changed. Continue reading
I’m no longer a registered Republican, so the only races on my 2018 primary ballot are for Alpine School Board and the Utah State School Board. We’ll begin with those, then move on to several Republican primary races
(Please note that we’re firmly in the realm of opinion and commentary here. If you’re looking for information without opinion, this post is not for you.)
I’m penciled in as the moderator of another school board debate before the general election, so I won’t tell you how I plan to vote. Also, I don’t know yet. But I will offer some thoughts on each candidate, based mostly on the debate I moderated on May 9 (audio here). My notes may guide you and me in different directions — not that you’ll ever know — and that’s fine with me.
This post features audio from the May 9, 2018, local and state school board debate at American Fork Junior High..
We start with two apologies. First, it has taken me six weeks to post this audio, and now we’re within a week of the election. Election Day is Tuesday, June 26, and those mail-in ballots have to be postmarked no later than Monday, June 25. On the other hand, it could have been worse; another week later, and it would be after Election Day. Second, my recorder ran out of memory space, due to an oversight on my part, so I lost a few seconds of one candidate’s answer to the penultimate question, and all of the responses to the final question (essentially, how are you different, and why should we vote for you?). If someone else has audio and wants to offer it, I’ll happily correct the omission.
Come to think of it, a third apology: I was too busy moderating to take photos for this post. Alas. Again, if someone has some good ones to share, let me know.
Details and Housekeeping
The American Fork Council PTA sponsored the debate. Yours truly, David Rodeback, was the moderator. Questions were submitted before and during the debate, and I added a few of my own. Attendance was about 50.
The audio is not of professional quality, but it is usable. I’ve done some noise suppression, adjusted volume levels, and deleted segments of dead air, plus some bits of chatter from, ahem, the moderator. Substantively, the candidates’ answers are unedited.
In the first audio segment — the least important — I explain the format and do some housekeeping.
These are the only two races on my primary ballot, because I’m unaffiliated.
Alpine School Board Debate
The primary ballot has three candidates for Alpine School Board, District 3; two will advance to the general election. Each voter gets one vote on the race.
The candidates are Sarah Beeson, Kara Sherman, and ‘Afa K. Palu — with names as printed on my ballot, and in the same order.
Please tell us your name and why you’re running for school board. (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
What experience in your life, professional or otherwise, would you like the voters to consider? (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
What have you done to prepare specifically for service on the Alpine School Board? (Sherman – Palu – Beeson)
In education, everyone seems to want something, and certainly there are many needs. How will you balance the needs and wants of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and others? (Palu – Beeson – Sherman)
The district has a clear vision for learning. Are you familiar with it, and are you hoping to support it or to change the vision, or somewhere between the two? (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
Is there too much, too little, or about the right amount of federal control of our public schools? (Palu – Sherman – Beeson) AND Is there too much, too little, or about the right amount of state control of our public schools? (Palu – Sherman – Beeson)
What do you want to accomplish as a member of the school board? List your top two, three, or four priorities. (Beeson – Palu – Sherman)
What should we do better to address the ongoing demographic challenges posed by a steadily growing population over the next ten, twenty, or thirty years? (Sherman – Beeson – Palu)
Pick one of these topics and give us your best thoughts: (Palu – Sherman – Beeson)
promoting school safety
teacher retention (someone asked specifically about special education teacher retention, if you want to go there)
the importance of the arts and humanities in public education
What makes you different from your opponents? Why should we vote for you? (Sherman – Beeson – Palu)
Utah State School Board Debate
The candidates for Utah State School Board, District 9, are — again as listed on my ballot — Kami Alvarez, Joylin Lincoln, Avalie Muhlestein, and Cindy Davis.
Please tell us your name and why you’re running for school board. (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What experience in your life, professional or otherwise, would you like the voters to consider? (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What have you done to prepare specifically for service on the State School Board? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein)
Why do we have a state school board? Is it better to have an elected board instead of an appointed board, or just a state superintendent? (Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez) AND Follow-up: Do you support or oppose making the state school board a partisan election? (Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez)
Common Core was adopted almost a decade ago and has been controversial ever since. Some love it, some hate it, and the current board said it would cost too much to fix. Would you vote to change it, and if so, how? (Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln)
Should a member of the State School Board work to move control away from the state to the local level? If so, how? (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What can you do on the state school board to help retain good teachers and to attract good teachers to the state? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein) AND Some school districts in Utah have dramatically increased teacher pay in order to attract and retain teachers. What if anything should the state do to help poorer districts compete for teachers? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein)
(I’m missing a few seconds at the end of Mrs. Muhlestein’s last response, but I’m including what there is. Closing statements are also missing. Again, my apologies — and if someone has decent audio to offer, I’d be pleased to post it.)
We try here to separate information from commentary, and to label the latter clearly. So I’ll soon post my own thoughts in a separate post, focusing on the races in which I get to vote, but also mentioning other (Republican) primary races affecting American Fork.
I’ll say this for now. I liked all these school board candidates, for reasons I’ll explain soon. And I still haven’t decided who gets my vote in either race. But I’m getting there.
I am without party, for almost the last two years, but I still get to vote in the June 26 primary election — at least on races for State School Board District 9 and Alpine School Board District 3. So do you, if you’re registered.
Today, May 9, is even more fun for me. I’ll be moderating a debate featuring state and local school board candidates. Each race gets about half an hour of questions, which isn’t a lot, but 30 minutes is infinitely longer than zero, if you do the math.
Here are more details about tonight’s event, the candidates, and the election itself.
May 9 School Board Candidate Debate
Location: American Fork Junior High Library
Sponsor: American Fork Council PTA
6:00 pm: meet and greet the candidates (both races), plus some introductory formalities, so the candidate Q&A can begin on the half-hour
6:30 pm: local school board candidate debate (Alpine School District, District 3)
7:00 pm: state school board candidate debate (District 9)
7:30 pm: mingle with the candidates (both races)
Some questions are already prepared, and a few were sent in advance to the candidates. The public is invited to submit questions in writing until 6:30 p.m. Due to limited time with each set of candidates during the formal part of the evening, any given question may be asked as written; combined with other similar questions; condensed or otherwise modified by the moderator for clarity, brevity, or other considerations; or not asked at all. The post-debate mingling is a good chance to follow up on what you heard, ask the questions that didn’t get asked, and get a sense of how individual candidates connect with voters.
I’m looking forward to meeting the candidates I don’t already know, and hearing what they all have to say. This is not just an exercise; I’ll be voting too, and I don’t yet know for whom.
Today American Fork City Council candidate Austin Duke withdrew his name from the November general election ballot, citing "unforeseen personal and family considerations" and endorsing Clark Taylor, Ernie John, and Tim Holley.