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Planning Commissioner Files to Challenge Park City School Board President

Park City School District

The candidate filing window for the November election closed on March 19. But to register as a write-in candidate, the deadline was Monday, Aug. 31 – and District 2 has a new challenger.


When the filing window closed, three sitting board members, Anne Peters from District 1, Board President Andrew Caplan, District 2 and Wendy Crossland, District 3 all filed to run for re-election. No other candidates filed for those seats at that time.


Park City resident Thomas Cooke has filed to run as a write-in candidate for the District 2 school board race. He’s lived in Park City since 1993, is currently a member of the Snyderville Planning Commission, and he has a child who attends the Winter Sports School. He says as a school board candidate he wants to create a more collaborative, respectful, and welcoming tone. He says he decided to run when he saw the Aug. 24 letter from the school board to district educators, which many felt was intimidating to teachers airing public concerns over COVID-19 who had also just negotiated a salary raise.


“It says, ‘a small minority of you have resorted to writing form letters and doing social media campaigns and, by the way, if you continue to do that, you're going to jeopardize contract negotiations for everybody,” he said. “All that's doing is putting a group of teachers that need togetherness and collaboration against each other. It's divisive and I don't think that's how you get people to the table and say, how do we solve these problems.” 




Credit Thomas Cooke
Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Thomas Cooke's announcement that he will challenge Park City Board of Education President Andrew Caplan in the District 2 election this fall.


He is not opposed to kids being in school right now. He feels the COVID-19 concerns are nuanced and they’ve become political rather than based on science.


“They’ve gone back and are doing their jobs and maybe the protections and the things that they were expecting to happen from day one, are not happening, and that's concerning to me,” he said. “Again, I don't have all the facts. I have sort of a feeling and understanding of, you know, what some of the pain points are for the teachers and frankly, a lot of them are afraid to even say anything.” 


Under the election guidelines, write-in candidates will not have their name appear on the ballot, but the clerk’s office will make every effort to decipher ballots with votes for them. The only difference in the way the ballot looks is voters in district 2 will see a line where a name can be written in. Summit County Deputy Clerk Kellie Robinson says:


“On the write-in, as long as we can tell what their intent was--you know if they don't spell the name exactly right, but it's close and we can tell that's what their intent was, was that person and then we go ahead and count it.”


District 2 consists of Ranch Place and Snyder’s Mill, east and west Highland Estates, and Park Meadows North. Three of Park City’s four elementary schools fall into the district and there are nearly 3800 registered voters. 89% of the district’s voters voted in the 2016 presidential election and the Summit County Clerk believes that ratio could be higher this year. 


Ballots will be mailed Oct.13 and the last day to register to vote is Oct. 23.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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