In a surprise move during the last few minutes of Friday's daylong State Board of Education meeting, board member Debra Roberts took a stand.

She made a formal statement decrying a controversial state board candidate selection process.

Roberts read her written statement to the board: "This board decries the recent machinations of the selection process for the candidates for the State Board of Education.

"We would support either an open primary or a return to district committees but state that partisan elections and the present state selection committee are both detrimental to the oversight of the education of our children and that the current process subverts the Utah constitutional requirement that members of the State Board of Education be generally elected."

The statement was approved by the state board in a 9-1 vote.

Voting in favor of the motion were board members Dixie Allen, Laurel Brown, Kim R. Burningham, Janet A. Cannon, Thomas Gregory, Michael Jensen, Denis R. Morrill, Debra G. Roberts and Teresa L. Theurer.

Board member Bill Colbert voted against the measure. Colbert said, in an interview after the meeting, he's OK with the current candidate selection process. "It's a process that's adopted by the Legislature. It is what it is," he said. "I'm not going to second-guess it."

Board member Randall A. Mackey abstained, saying he didn't appreciate the statement being made at the end of the meeting when people had one foot out the door and there wasn't time for discussion.

"That's not how you make good policy," Mackey said. "I think we need to discuss it and look at the wording."

Board members Richard Sadler, Greg W. Haws and Richard Moss were absent.

Because there was no tie, meeting chairman Mark Cluff did not vote.

The statement refers to the process in which candidates who file for the board are first vetted by a gubernatorial-appointed commission that forwards the names of three to five finalists for consideration by the governor, who then names two of those candidates to appear on the ballot in November.

This year the committee did not pass along the names of Board Chairman Sadler nor Colbert for inclusion on the ballot. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. chose not to forward Theurer's name for inclusion on November's ballot.

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