This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Nonpartisan school board races this year are anything but.
Political parties and partisan politicians have taken sides in several contests for the state school board and in some local school board contests as well.
Gov. Gary Herbert, in an unusual move, has endorsed four state school board candidates incumbent Stan Lockhart in District 13, and nonincumbents Erin Preston in District 11, Kathleen Riebe in District 10, and Wesley Christiansen in District 15.
He took no position in four other state school board matchups, leaving some observers curious about his silence in District 4, where the incumbent is Dave Thomas, a former state senator and a candidate heavily endorsed by the Utah Republican Party.
The party has allowed certain candidates to use its bulk mailing permit, which implies endorsement. They include Lockhart, Thomas and, interestingly, Davis School Board candidate Mike McCauley, who has put the GOP logo on his campaign signs in the nonpartisan race.
Utah GOP Chairman James Evans says the party supports any state school board candidate who is a Republican, even though the school board races are technically nonpartisan.
Evans says the party supports Lockhart and his District 13 opponent, Scott Neilson, because both are Republicans and both can use the GOP's postal permit.
In Thomas' race, Evans said the opponent, Jennifer Graviet, was a Democratic Party officer in Weber County and is supported by the National Education Association, an apparent disqualifier for the Republican Party.
The Legislature recently passed a law that will shift state school board races from nonpartisan to partisan contests in 2018. So candidates will go through the vetting process in their parties to get on the ballot as either a Republican or Democrat.
Local school district races will remain nonpartisan, which makes the GOP involvement in the McCauley race intriguing. In fact, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, did a robocall on behalf of McCauley.
How much ideology plays into the endorsements is unclear. McCauley was the treasurer for the state Republican Party for several years, which may explain the GOP's enthusiasm for his candidacy and its involvement in a local school board contest.
Herbert's endorsements come during the first year the governor didn't have a hand in selecting who would appear on the ballot in school board races.
Previously, a nominating committee appointed by the governor would select three candidates from a field of applicants in each district. The governor then would pick two of the three sent to him for the finalists on the ballot.
That system came under scrutiny when critics alleged the committee favored candidates of a certain ideology.
A federal judge ruled that process unconstitutional. So now, rather than manipulating who can appear on the ballot, the politicians have been reduced to endorsing the ones who fit their tastes.
On second thought • The opponent of the governor-endorsed school board candidate Erin Preston in District 11 is Lisa Cummins, a member of the archconservative and fiercely anti-Common Core group, the Utah Republican Women's Liberty Caucus, which has endorsed Cummins in the race.
The caucus also has endorsed Sen. Mike Lee and state Auditor John Dougall. So on Cummins' Facebook Page, she posted a picture of Lee, Dougall and herself and stated that she is "proud to be endorsed by the Utah Republican Women's Liberty Caucus along with Sen. Mike Lee and Auditor John Dougall."
That apparently caused a backlash. She later amended her page to say Lee and Dougall "have not endorsed in this race."
Honoring first responders • The Lunatic Fringe hair salon in Salt Lake City, in a gesture of gratitude, is inviting police officers, firefighters and military members to make a reservation for a complimentary shampoo, haircut and style by a junior stylist. The offer lasts through Nov. 12.