More Reasons for Partisan School Board Elections

I received this letter this morning from Nicole Toomey Davis who ran against Kim Burningham in a State School Board race last year, on the need for passing SB 224, Partisan School Board Elections. Please pass this on to everyone you know today and have them ask their House member to vote YES for SB 224


Dear friends:
It has been several months since the frenzy of the campaign.  I want you to know (again), how much your support meant to me.  It was a fantastic experience, even though I didn’t win the election for SBOE #5.  Thank you for your support, encouragement and friendship!

As you may have seen, the Senate just passed SB 224, Partisan School Board Elections.  I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the State Board of Education elections overall – I learned a great deal about the process and this may be helpful to you.  If you agree with my assessment, I encourage you to reach out to your Representatives in the House (info below), and let them know that you want talented people to run for the State Board on a level playing field.   I will note that the “other side” is working the email, fax and phones!

Here are my thoughts on current SBOE elections:

1) Our current system is not “non-partisan” (as is frequently stated), it is a “one party election” – and the ONLY party that is active in education politics is the “education employees party”.  The “other” candidate in any education race is an independent – and independents don’t win very often.  (As I frequently said when I started my campaign, I was a “lonely candidate” because none of the political parties will support non-partisan candidates!)

Here is what a party does for a candidate:
a) establish a platform
b) vet candidates to see which are most consistent with that platform
c) endorse candidates so that members and “likeminded” people don’t have to do the research themselves
d) post information about the candidate or links to candidate information on an establish “party” website that members and likeminded poeple ALREADY know about
e) provide a base of voters and donors to the candidate (due to endorsement)
f) encourage donations to the candidate
g) send out information to “members” by email and snail mail.

Now, let me tell you what the Davis Education Association did for Kim Burningham in this past election

a) established  a platform – pro-teachers and pro-“association”
b) interviewed candidates (they “invite” all  candidates to be interviewed by 1/2 dozen key DEA people  – I didn’t know it was to be “vetted”)
c) Endorsed Kim Burningham publicly
d) Posted that endorsement on their existing and well known DEA website, which is visited by DEA members AND by other like-minded people, including OTHER (non-teacher) school district employees
(note that there are 8000 Davis School District employees, about half of them are teachers – Kim Burningham consistently gets about 24,000 votes….. DSD employees + a couple of friends = consistent victory for the union representative)
e) Provide a built in base of voters and donors for Kim (Kim sent emails to DSD employees AT SCHOOL, and the DEA sent email to DSD employees AT SCHOOL, showing the link for Kim’s fundraising to date so that DSD employees could support him!)
f) Encourage donations to the candidate (see above)
g) Send out information to “members” by email and snail mail. (DEA sent out a mailed letter to teachers AT SCHOOL endorsing Kim, stating outright lies about me – things that were known factually to be untrue by the DEA president and facts were available online -, and stridently encouraging teachers to vote for Kim B.)

My husband coined this phrase “you aren’t running in a non-partisan election, you’re running in a one-party election and YOU’RE the independent candidate”.

Let’s return school politics to a fair and balanced system.  Every candidate should have the ability to have the support of a party, rather than just one candidate having that support and any other candidate being “lonely”.

In addition, as much as 20% of the electorate, IN THE ELECTION BOOTH, voting for other candidates, do NOT vote for the State Board of Education.  Many people say “they don’t know who to vote for”.  It is very difficult for voters to find out information about SBOE candidates, as there is no centralized place to go during election season.  In the case of the District #5 election, that 20% would have reversed the final outcome.

Finally, the current system places anyone other than a candidate endorsed by the “education employees party” at a severe disadvantage.  I was put on the ballot on August 1st!  94 days from campaign start to election day. Mr. Burningham had been campaigning since at least March, during all of the various conventions.  Hardly a “level” playing field.

Had I known about this severe structural imbalance in the race for State Board of Education, I would NEVER have run.  Only a fool would run under a system where this is NO CHANCE of success.  I tell this to other talented business people who would add a lot of value to our education system.  I tell them not to waste their time and money (and that of their supporters).   It is a sad conclusion, and my heart aches to say it, but I had as much support as it is possible to imagine, and you and your neighbors in our district turned out, but we simply could not overcome the tremendous advantages that accrue to the “party candidate” in a one-party system (just look at Egypt and its neighbors!!!).

Let’s make a system where great, talented and dedicated people of all interests and backgrounds can declare that background (through party affiliation) and can have the support of the party of their choice in running for the State Board of Education.  Politics is already completely embedded in the State Board of Education races, let’s just make sure all of the voters know it!

Please support SB 224  Partisan School Board Elections.

To reach your representatives, please visit (you can also fax a note to your Rep at  801-326-1544 and it will be delivered to them)

Thank you again for your support.  I hope this is helpful to you (and if not, just hit the delete key ;-).  If it is helpful, you are welcome to forward it on to others who may find it helpful.
Best Regards,

One Response to “More Reasons for Partisan School Board Elections”

  • Jeanne G:

    I was one of your supporters, and I still hate the outcome of that election! One “support” you forgot to mention that the other side provides to its incumbents: they always steal yard signs out of yards on or right before election day. (Every time I’ve had opponents’ signs up against Burningham, they’ve been stolen. Never fails. Never happened for any other race.)

    you were as fantastic a candidate as we could hope for, you would have been AWESOME. Thank you for running. If this process gets changed, run again! or encourage others around you to do it. We’d love to help Kim transition to retirement ASAP. :)