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Park City School District

Candidates decry opponent’s appointment to Park City school board

PCSD Park City School District Building Ben
Ben Lasseter
Mandy Pomeroy was appointed to the Park City Board of Education last month. Her opponents in the race for the full term, which will be decided in November, say the appointment gives her an unfair advantage.

Candidates for the Park City school board say their opponent’s appointment to the board gives her an unfair advantage in the upcoming election. That candidate, Mandy Pomeroy, disagrees.

Three people are running for the District 4 seat on the Park City Board of Education. And three people applied for an interim appointment to serve in that seat until the end of the year. Only one person applied to do both.

After the board selected that person — Mandy Pomeroy — her opponents in the race said the board has effectively endorsed Pomeroy’s candidacy.

From left, Park City school board candidates Josh Mann, Mandy Pomeroy and Meredith Reed

Pomeroy, Josh Mann and Meredith Reed are facing off in a June 28 primary to select the two candidates who will appear on November’s ballot. A fourth candidate, Edward Panos, withdrew in March and endorsed Pomeroy.

Mann said he’d researched the advantage incumbents have in Utah elections, and it’s overwhelming.

“So what the school board's effectively done is set it up so that Mandy has a really good chance of being reelected because she is now the de facto incumbent," Mann said. "And statistics show that, you know, it's a 93% chance she'll be reelected to the position. I think that's completely unfair.”

In a written statement, Pomeroy said she wasn’t given an advantage by her appointment, but she has an advantage based on her qualifications as an educator and her experience working with the Park City Education Foundation.

Pomeroy declined requests to be interviewed by phone, but said in a written statement she was thrilled to be appointed. She said her goal is to acclimate herself to the position and listen and learn with an open mind.

Board members, including Andrew Caplan, said when they appointed Pomeroy the fact that she was running for the full term made her a more attractive candidate.

“For me, having seen this a couple times, it's a lot of work to train someone," Caplan said at the board meeting April 25. "It's a lot of work to integrate someone into the board. And I think, for me, personally, I'd love to see the investment in someone who may be able to continue on should she be successful in the November election.”

Reed said she wanted the voters to decide the next board member, not the board. Reed said the appointment was an example of the board “pulling in another insider.”

“The board doesn't need to keep bringing in the people that agree with the board," she said. "That's just not healthy for our community. It's not healthy for our democracy.”

Reed pointed to comments Pomeroy made while interviewing for the position. At that meeting, Pomeroy said supporting the decisions the board has already made is “huge.” She also told the board she wasn’t running to change anything dramatically, and that she strongly supports the district.

Pomeroy has been a board member of the Park City Education Foundation, a nonprofit that fundraises for district initiatives.

In the written statement, Pomeroy said she doesn't consider herself an insider and that she hasn’t been meeting with the current board or making decisions with them behind closed doors.

Pomeroy said the decision by Reed and Mann not to apply for the interim appointment “speaks volumes about how they truly feel about their qualifications for the position.”

“This isn't an ‘insider versus outsider’ race,” Pomeroy said. “It's a ‘qualified versus unqualified’ race.”

Reed and Mann said they do not regret their decision not to apply, and said seeking the interim appointment would have been undemocratic.

Primary ballots will be sent out Tuesday, June 9, seven weeks after Pomeroy’s appointment.