A nominating committee charged with whittling down the list of candidates running for the Utah State Board of Education effectively ousted two current state school board members — including the board chairman.

Some are saying the process is flawed and undermines democracy.

Richard Sadler, state board chairman, along with Bill Colbert, state board member, are not among the names of those candidates that will be forwarded to the governor.

Though a motion was made to automatically forward incumbents, it failed 8-4.

The nominating committee is made up of a dozen members, including leaders from education, school boards, PTA and the business community. That committee recommends three candidates to the governor, who then chooses two to be on the ballot.

Colbert said he is disappointed that he will not be able to run again but even more disappointed that Sadler was not advanced.

"I am a little more controversial ... I've made some people angry with me and understand that some of the education establishment has not been pleased with me because I am a strong supporter of vouchers and school choice," said Colbert, who also indicated he has no regrets with any of his actions or stances.

He said he had even heard rumblings that he was one of the candidates that voucher opponents wanted to remove.

But Colbert said that Sadler was a good man, voted chairman by board members, and deserved to continue.

"He has been a voice of reason and the chair of the board and I am extremely disappointed that he was not continued," said Colbert, who told the Deseret News that Sadler has made efforts to try to help to smooth out what has sometimes been an adversarial relationship between the state school board and the Legislature.

Other candidate hopefuls took issue with the process of using a weighted vote — meaning committee members ranked their top three picks in each district, giving the most points to the most favored. The three with the most points were advanced.

So though some candidates may have had more votes, if their competitors' points were higher then they were beat out.

"It's not sour grapes ... this is just a clear example of undermining democracy," said Lincoln Fillmore, who landed three points away from making the cut. "It is not how democracy works and is clearly a case of the people with the votes not getting through."

But Jeff Alexander, chairman of the nominating committee, said there are going to be complaints coming from all sides and some simply don't like that there is a committee there at all deciding on a statewide basis who should be a candidate in the local areas.

"I know there are going to be people that aren't happy with the way it proceeded, but in following the statute as close as we could we felt we were fair as we could be," he said.

According to Alexander, the nominating committee process was created by the Legislature with the intent of bringing diverse opinions and backgrounds to the board outside of the education committee. This year there were more candidates than ever before, something he attributes to the committee's recruiting.

"I believe we have good candidates now going to the governor for him to be able to make the choice and put them on the final ballot," Alexander said.

State Board of Education — Nomination Board Recommendations

In order according to committee point rankings.

District 1

1. Shelly Locke

2. Susie Campbell Ashilman

3. Teresa L. Theurer

District 4

1. Dave Thomas

2. Chris L. Dallin

3. Stephen Hunter

District 7

1. Randall A. Mackay

2. Leslie Brooks Castle

3. Carlton A. Getz

District 8 (no ranking only two candidates)

Janet Cannon

Trent Kaufman

District 11

1. Ted H. Heap

2. Dave Crandall

3. Ralph J. Haws

District 12

1. Mark Cluff

2. Carol A. Murphy

3. David J. Adamic

District 13

1. Kyle Bateman

2. C. Mark Openshaw

3. A. LeGrand Richards


Contributing: Wendy Leonard

E-mail: terickson@desnews.com