Monday, October 27, 2008

State School Board District 13 Candidates are MIA; A great validation of the selection process

HEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO?! C. Mark Openshaw? C. Mark? C. Mark run...away from all contact with possible constituents. (Bad pun made worse by the fact you're probably reading this on a Monday morning.)

I know the State School Board is unappreciated, unheralded, and probably less than 1% of the population could name their representative on the board, but we saw how important they can be as principled advocates for education during the voucher campaign. (They took hypocritical cheap shots, but were vindicated as representing the people in the end.) I admit that I did not always pay attention to these races and that teachers mostly don't know who their State School Board Representatives are either. In fact, until last week I thought my representative was Mark Cluff of State School Board District 12 and was all set to vote for his opponent, Carol Murphy.

Oops. I actually fall into State School Board District 13 which has been represented for the last 4 years by Tom Gregory, by all accounts an effective board member whose blog allowed him to communicate well with constituents, as well as being one of the original proponents and a signer of the omnibus lawsuit.

Gregory is not running for re-election, and the political committee process of appointing candidates via anti-public-school voting blocks gave us the candidates Kyle Bateman and C. Mark Openshaw.

They are both new to the local educational scene as far as I know. I would wager about 99.9% of their district has not heard of either of them. They are trying to win an election for public office. Yet, when being profiled, neither of them saw fit to provide the Tribune with any contact information for the public to ask them questions. Not every candidate for State School Board had a website (Which is becoming almost mandatory these days so people can see where you stand 24-7.), but I believe EVERY other candidate provided the paper with their email address and in many cases their home telephone number so that voters could contact them. Kyle Bateman and C. Mark Openshaw were the only ones to stay incognito. They also ignored the voter information questions from the Utah League of Women Voters and only Bateman responded to the most detailed questionnaire given out to State School Board candidates by the Utahns for Public Schools advocacy group. (Hat tip to Utah Moms Care for putting both of those links in one place.) Why?

Now, I believe that both men are probably very nice people who care deeply about Utah schools because they have children in them. But why do they think they can run for an important elected office and provide the public with no information? Who are they? What do they believe about education in general and their role as State School Board members? Who knows?

I tracked down the email addresses and phone numbers that the state collected when they registered to run for office: and 801-226-8033 and 801-377-0790

Currently, Mark Openshaw has not returned emails from community members, including teachers, and at least one current member of the State School Board. His responses to the Tribune's questions were the shortest and most generic of all the candidates as well. He has not responded to questions from any other voting organizations that I am aware of, and in fact, I cannot find any position of his anywhere on the web. Is he under-prepared or just unresponsive? How I am supposed to tell the difference?

The problem is that his opponent, Kyle Bateman, is closely tied to Parents for Choice in education and has problematic views on vouchers, the "inefficiency" of education funding, and his role as an advocate for the schools. Besides his one response to UPS, he has avoided public comment as well.

Bateman was far and away the #1 choice of the biased "business block" on the governor's selection panel. Openshaw was the 2nd choice of the same block, and could likely hold similar views to Bateman since he was vetted by the same 6 people.

Right now, I'm feeling ripped off by the process and disappointed that the two candidates don't even care enough to state their positions somewhere.

So...what am I to do? I'm early voting this week , and my current plan is to write in A. LeGrand Richards as my choice for State School Board, unless C. Mark Openshaw puts up a website or something and really wows me with his views. Richards was the 1st choice of most of the school representatives on the selection committee and has excellent qualifications as a BYU education professor.

So seriously, write-in campaign for A. LeGrand Richards. My vast local readership and influence should net him 4 or 5 votes, easy.


Anonymous said...

My wife and I just wrote in A Legrand Richards. Thanks for providing some context to this race.

Tom said...

Thanks for the compliment.

As I understand it, a write-in won't be counted unless the candidate files to be considered for write-in status.

Still, I think Richards would do a good job. I've spoken with him several times, and am impressed by his compassion and empathy.

Tasha said...

School board Cartoon.