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Challengers oust incumbents on Park City school board

Meredith Reed and Nick Hill widened their leads in the Park City School Board race Wednesday.
Meredith Reed and Nick Hill widened their leads in the Park City School Board race Wednesday.

With more votes counted Wednesday, two Park City Board of Education candidates widened their leads over their opponents.

UPDATED Thursday at 4:54 p.m.

Vote counts are preliminary, but by Wednesday afternoon, races for two seats on the school board looked to be settled enough that incumbents conceded and sent emails congratulating their opponents.

Meredith Reed held a 764-vote lead over Mandy Pomeroy in the district 4 race with nearly 3,000 votes counted. In district 5, Nick Hill was 109 votes ahead of Erin Grady, who is the current board president and has been at the helm through two misdemeanor criminal investigations and several major construction snafus in the past year. About 2,600 votes have been counted in district 5.

Hill and Reed ran on platforms of accountability and transparency and both have been outspoken critics of district administration’s handling of incidents involving student safety as well as the construction work stoppages and delays.

Post-election, Reed said she was grateful for broad community support, and was ready to dive in.

“I believe that the voters and the people that supported me recognize that I have the experience and the skill set that we need here on the school board to make a positive change,” she said. “So I really appreciate that support, and I want to serve our community and make the best schools possible. I'm looking forward to doing that.”

Pomeroy has served as an interim board member since the spring, when she was unanimously appointed to fill the role of Kara Hendrickson, who passed away after an illness. She said Thursday she was honored to have served and proud to have thrown her hat in the ring, and she wished the new board members the best.

Hill said he decided to run after experiencing firsthand the weeklong mask mandate violation at Parley’s Park Elementary School, where his son is a student. He told KPCW he flew back to Utah last year from the U.K. after a trip to his home country for the funeral of his father, who had just died of COVID-19. When he returned, he found the mask mandate not being followed and cases spiking at the school, and that inspired his candidacy.

He said Wednesday he appreciated the tenor of the district 5 race.

“The race in district five never got to the level that we saw in District Four," he said. "And I think that that is as much due to the way Erin conducted herself as anything and I appreciate that. I think it's important especially in a race like a school board, that we behave in a certain way that is appropriate for being trusted with the school system.”

Both Hill and Reed talked about beginning their terms by reviewing recent district decisions in hopes of building community trust and avoiding future missteps.

There are about 5,000 students and 700 employees in the Park City School District. The district's annual operating budget is about $95 million. Board members serve four-year terms, and Hill and Reed will be sworn in at the first meeting of 2023. They'll join board vice president Wendy Crossland and members Andrew Caplan and Anne Peters, whose terms all end in 2024.

Vote counts are not final, though the remaining number of ballots in school board district 4 and 5 is not high enough to affect the outcome of these races.

The Summit County Clerk’s office will update vote counts Thursday evening after 7 p.m.