Republicans leading in 3 of 5 contested races | #Education

Preliminary returns began coming in late Tuesday.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Students spill into a hallway of West High School in between class periods on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Three Republican candidates are leading across five contested races for Utah’s state school board, according to early returns late Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Three Republican candidates are leading across five contested races for Utah’s state school board as of about 11:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Together, the Utah State Board of Education oversees public K-12 education, setting statewide policies and producing curriculum within boundaries set by lawmakers. Its 15 board members also ask the Utah Legislature to fund school programs and provide feedback on bills that affect education.

District 1

Republican incumbent Jennie Earl leads in the race for District 1, which includes Box Elder, Cache, Morgan, Rich and Summit counties. She received about 78% of the 47,446 votes tallied as of 11:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Earl and Democratic candidate Curtis Benjamin competed to represent District 1. Earl has served on the state school board since she was elected in 2018. She has taught students with special needs for five years and teaches math at a private school, according to her board biography.

Benjamin taught and coached high school students for over two decades, according to his website.

District 5

Democratic candidate Sarah Reale leads in District 5, which contains West Valley City and most of downtown Salt Lake City. Reale had received about 59% of 21,320 tallied votes as of Tuesday night at 11:10 p.m.

“I’m feeling good, because in a partisan race that shouldn’t be partisan, we brought a great message — and so far the voters have resonated with that,” Reale said late Tuesday.

Reale is running against Republican Laurel Fetzer and unaffiliated candidate William Fisher. Reale has been an educator for 12 years at Salt Lake Community College, and has almost 20 years of experience in higher education, according to her website.

Fisher has taught high school for 11 years, and campaigned as an unaffiliated candidate since the position was previously non-partisan.

A portion of District 5 was previously represented by Carol Lear, who is now running to represent District 6. Reale said Lear has been a mentor to her, and that she admires Lear’s non-partisan attitude towards her role on the board.

“She’s super focused on what is the law, and what is best for teachers — and I really respect that about her,” Reale said. “I’ve put the focus of this campaign on teachers, because I believe when you support teachers, you support your students. And to me, I feel like our educators are in desperate need of resources and support and confidence that we trust them.”

District 6

Democratic incumbent Carol Lear leads in District 6, which contains northeast Salt Lake County and southwest Summit County. As of 11:10 p.m. Tuesday, Lear received about 71% of 40,799 votes tallied.

Lear is running against Republican challenger Melanie Monestere. Lear was elected to the board in 2016 and reelected in 2020.

Lear was a high school teacher for five years and has served on community councils, according to her board biography. She was an adjunct professor at Utah State University’s Education Leadership department for 20 years, and now represents school districts, charter schools and parents at her private law practice.

Monestere also worked as a lawyer, according to her website. She decided to stay at home after the birth of her second child, and later volunteered at her children’s school and served on the parent board.

District 8

Republican candidate Christina Boggess leads in District 8, which covers most of southern Salt Lake County, including Taylorsville and Kearns.

Boggess leads against Democratic candidate Audryn Damron with about 55% of the 26,667 votes tallied as of 11:10 p.m.

Boggess has served for over 21 years “in a variety of educational roles and situations,” including over a decade at the elementary level and the same at the secondary, her website states.

Damron has been a teacher for 11 years and currently serves as a special education teacher at Cottonwood High School in Granite School District, according to her website.

District 14

Republican candidate Emily Green leads in the race for District 14, which contains Beaver, Carbon, Emery, Grand, Juab, Millard, Sanpete, and Sevier counties, along with parts of Iron and Utah counties.

Green received about 85% of 56,395 votes tallied as of 11:10 p.m., leading against Libertarian challenger Richard Jensen.

Green has volunteered with the Iron County School District for almost 10 years, according to her campaign biography. As PTA president at her children’s elementary school, she worked to amplify parent voices and raise thousands of dollars for educational resources, she said.

Uncontested races:

Three of the board’s races were uncontested, meaning that without a challenger, the following candidates will take office:

  • District 2 (part of Weber County): Joseph Kerry, a Republican.

  • District 4 (parts of Davis and Salt Lake counties): LeAnn Wood, a Republican.

  • District 11 (part of Salt Lake and Utah counties): Cindy Davis, a Republican, currently serving in District 9.

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