UAC 2022 School Board Candidate Survey Responses
Tell us about yourself: this could include biographical details, a list of hobbies, professional accomplishments, or anything you’d like to highlight.
The oldest of four daughters, I’m happiest in the mountains with my dogs, at an outdoor concert with friends, or on my bike.
I can talk sports, the latest episode of the Bachelor, and the details of environmental policy. I love good coffee in the mountains and reciting Jay-Z lyrics when teaching the US Constitution to my students. My roots are Salt Lake City. My mom, “Kimbo” was a proud East High grad and my best memories are engrained in my late Grandma’s house on 16th Ave. Salt Lake City is home, and there isn’t a ridgeline in the foothills my feet (or bike tires) haven’t been on.
After coming out in 2009, I promised myself that no matter what, I would live my life authentically. There are no shadows, no tricks, no illusions. What you see is what you get. I’m real(e). I am both a teacher and a learner. It may seem simple, but these are my paramount values – to be myself and to be transparent to those I serve. I believe this creates relatability and a welcoming environment for those around me.
Experience and Qualifications:
Passion for Education:
-Director of Digital Marketing at Salt Lake Community College
-Adjunct professor in Political Science
-Salt Lake Library Board of Directors
-Former Public Relations and Marketing Director at Utah State University
-Master’s Degree in Political Science and Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Utah State University
-Daughter and Sister of Utah public school teachers (Churchill Jr High & Ridgeline HS)
Advocate for Public Land:
-Salt Lake County Open Space Trust Committee, Member, District 1
-Salt Lake County Mountainous Planning District Planning Commission
-Researcher at the Center for Rural Lands and Public Economics
-Avid biker, hiker, and you’ll often find me on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail with my two dogs, Eva and Franklin.
Experience in state and local organizations:
-Salt Lake Chamber Leadership Utah graduate
-40 under 40, American Association for Women in Community Colleges
-University of Utah Chi Omega Advisory Board
-Poll Worker 2020 election
-Ballpark Community Council, Vice Chair
Describe your strategy for victory in your campaign; i.e., what is your messaging? How will it appeal to a majority of voters in your district? Are you working closely with any other campaigns?
District 5 includes Salt Lake City (west of 600 E), West Valley City, Murray, South Salt Lake, and Magna. There are approx. 75k registered voters and 210k residents. This is a new district, and I although it feels blue leaning, it is somewhat purple.
Tactical strategy will include:
-Fundraising approx. $60-70k to send mailers (approx. $20k per send), utilize digital marketing advertising, and social media ads.
-Attend community events and gatherings as often as possible to interact with voters
-Engage with School Community Councils
-Banners and yard signs
-Targeted mailers to specific groups to help get the vote out
-Team with other Democratic candidates to support overlapping districts
-Earned media and public relations
-Working with Landslide Political for targeted strategies and media buys
-Engage with endorsements and local leaders to collaborate and gain name recognition
Communication & Messaging Strategy I believe resonate with Democrats and moderate (non MAGA) Republicans:
-Focus on my experience: Education, technology, communications, and bipartisan work for open spaces and public lands
-I have a track record of student-first approach in education to help students fulfill their dreams
Funding full-day kindergarten, increased teacher pay and teacher professional development resources, and increased technology opportunities in schools.
Fight against increased forced teacher transparency and stop legislation complicating and weighing down their responsibilities.
Collaborate with parents, teachers, administrators, local school boards, and legislators to do the necessary work to support our students
STRENGTHEN THE P-20 PIPELINE
Strengthen the P-20 pipeline (preschool to higher ed) by partnering with Utah System of Higher Education and do early intervention and education in middle school and early
Push back against battles over teaching history, race, sex education, and science and stop unnecessary book banning.
A decision to run for office can often be a difficult one: why did you decide to run for school board, i.e. what are your guiding principles?
I believe Education is one of the most important institutions our government manages. I am concerned about the unnecessary legislation, political theater targeting our students and our educators. I'm running to be a voice for our students and educators and help build a more inclusive, safe, and brighter future for our schools.
What professional or volunteer experience do you have in the Utah education system?
I've spent almost 20 years working in higher education. I have worked on dozens of programs to help improve the P-20 pipeline an encouraging higher education to Utah students.
I'm also on the Salt Lake Library Board of Directors, and as an instructor at SLCC I have worked to support my students as they go on to a 4-year institution and beyond to help them fulfill their dreams.
What community groups, nonprofit organizations, or professional organizations do you belong to or align with?
- Member of the LGBTQ+ community
- Women Democratic Club
- Save Parleys (Stop the Gravel Pit
- Chi Omega Sorority
- Utah Women in Higher Education
- Ballpark Community Council
- SL County Democrats
- American Association for Women in Community Colleges
- 02 Utah
What local community members, professional associates, or elected officials have encouraged you to run for office or endorsed your campaign?
Mayor of Salt Lake City ERIN MENDENHALL
Representative JOEL BRISCOE
Representative CAROL SPACKMAN MOSS
Salt Lake County Council ARLYN BRADSHAW
USBE, CAROL LEAR
Senator KATHLEEN RIEBE
Salt Lake City Council (all 6 members)
Force for Good
Based on your educational philosophy/core values, what is at least one way that you can positively influence your school district as a school board member?
When we create safe, inclusive, diverse, and equitable spaces for students in the classroom, they will thrive. Research shows the more we create these spaces to learn and grow, the better the educational experience, the more engaged our students become, and more effective we will be in our teaching practices.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support administrators?
It is important to listen, collaborate, and build bridges between the state and local school boards. But there has never been a more important time to listen to educators and administrators--as they have lived day-to-day experiences that need to be heard. I have spent time meeting with Superintendents and it has been an eye-opening experience, and the issues they have brought up are not the ones I would have expected. We need a seat at the table for all of the stakeholders who support our students.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support teachers?
Similar to my answer above-- I think we need to listen to their concerns and needs. We need to be understanding and empathetic to the difficulties they may experience in the classroom. We need to support them. We may assume teachers really only want higher pay, but in speaking with them we may find there are other needs that can be immediately addressed. We won't know how to support teachers without asking.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support students?
I have spent my career focused on students as my highest priority. We need to balance challenging them to learn and grow, and supporting them in their educational pursuits. It is important we give student leaders a seat at the table, and we use data and research to allow the students to give us, as educators and leaders feedback. We have a new generation of students-- they have different needs than generations that came before them. We need to adapt our classrooms, our leadership styles, and our structure to give them the best space to learn.
What do you believe is the best way for local or state school boards to support parents?
I believe a parent has the right and ability to reach out to our teachers and administrators, and I will continue to be supportive of that transparency. However, every parent is different-- many are highly engaged and involved in their child's education. But we must remember that many may not have the capacity to be as engaged. To be honest, I am less concerned about the parents who have the privilege to be highly engaged in their child's education. I want to re-engage the parents who may not have the time or ability to be involved in their child's education in more flexible, simpler, and accessible way.
What is something the school board you are running for has done right?
I am unbelievably stoked about the progress we have made in full-day kindergarten. Although I feel we have a long way to go-- I am grateful for the work of the State Board of Education in pushing for, and funding, full-day kindergarten.
As a school board member, what specific, achievable goals do you have?
Fully fund full-day kindergarten
Get Granite and Murray to shift to electric buses
Support educators and shield them from unproductive legislation requiring more transparency.
Finding new ways to integrate technology and STEAM into curriculum, including environmental education.
I also listed a few above that are achievable.
There is a well-established and transparent process for book challenges and removals; recently, a minority of parents and parent-groups have advocated for testing the limits of established practice by using social media to spread disinformation about books and librarians. How do you feel about the existing policy and efforts to circumvent it?
I'm tired and frustrated by this absolutely unproductive and unnecessary attack on our school libraries and librarians.
We need to trust our librarians. Who work diligently to try to encourage our students to take their eyes off of their phones and into a book. They are trained, talented, disciplined, and ALREADY take appropriate action to ensure the books students are reading in their library are appropriate.
Book burning was a troubled and embarrassing part of American history. I don't want to see us repeat it.
Teaching American History
Another ongoing debate is focused on the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Utah’s K-12 schools. If you are asked: “Are you promoting Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools?" How would you respond?
I would start my reminding them that the Theory on Critical Race is not included in any of our Utah public school curriculum. And I would try to help them understand the process of how curriculum is approved. I believe understanding the guidelines and policies within curriculum approval stop much of the unnecessary rhetoric surrounding CRT. It is a click-bait, hyper polarizing topic that is completely unnecessary and creates chaos when chaos doesn't exist.
What role do school boards have in establishing policies that promote inclusion and diversity?
I support all policies and opportunities to integrate inclusivity and diversity into our schools. I believe it will take humility and education for many to understand the importance of discussing and addressing these topics, but it is necessary to not only support our growing diverse population of students in Salt Lake County, but to build a better, safer, more supportive environment for our students.
Mental Health in Schools
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are prevalent among Utah’s youth. Do you believe Utah’s educational system has a role to play in supporting the social and emotional wellness of its students? How can school boards support the needs of Utah students?
Superintendents have told me their number one need for students in their districts is mental health. We cannot ignore the post-pandemic weight that has been placed on our student's shoulders. As an educator I walk into a classroom and I know every single one of my students has a different experience and reality outside the classroom. Many have learning disabilities, some may be struggling with issues at home, in their personal life, and in their family. It is absolutely impossible to ignore the emotional wellness of our students as an educator. You have to be aware, support, and be empathetic to our students emotional well-being to be an effective teacher. We need to give space to educators to appropriately engage and support our students.
Do you support governmental appropriation of taxpayer funds to provide support to parents who wish to have their children attend private schools?
There has yet to be a school voucher proposal in the state of Utah I have believed is good legislation, good governance, and helpful for Utah's students. I am not opposed to private schools or charter schools. I believe they play an important role in our education system. I do. However, I want to ensure our funding for education is used in the most responsible way-- and if there was a voucher program that supported our entire system in an effective way, I would support such policy, However, no such policy has been shown through legislation or otherwise that I would agree is good fiscal governance for Utah students.
Politicization of Education
How has the politicization of education changed the campaigning process—and the nature of school boards, themselves? Is this change beneficial to Utah's public school system?
Utah Parents United has targeted my personal social media with messages calling me "filthy whore stay away from our kids" and calling the LGBTQ community "pedophiles" and targeting me directly, in the most inappropriate way. So yes-- it will impact these elections. However, I am hopeful it is a minority scream, not a majority dream. In other words, I don't think most parents align with these voices. So I believe it will impact the election, but hopefully not the outcome.
Is there an unasked question you would love to answer? Please tell us about the issue you are passionate about that we have not touched upon.