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The proportion of Utah public school 8th graders who scored at the highest two levels in mathematics on national assessment tests increased by 36% between 1992 and 2005.

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The Candidate Selection Process


The election season is a critical time for elected officials and candidates to travel throughout their districts to listen to the concerns and priorities of their constituents.

This is also one of the few occasions when citizens are able to solicit solid commitments from candidates and incumbents if they are elected (or reelected) to office.

Your opinion is very important, and believe it or not, elected officials are there because you gave them that opportunity. You need to challenge them to fulfill their role of being your representative, and they cannot be your representative unless they know what it is you’re looking for. Many candidates are vocal about their support for public education, but voters can do a lot to ensure that elected officials are aware of the wide range of important education issues, and that they honor their commitment to education.

Support for public education is a bipartisan issue, so you can't assume that party platforms alone will provide accurate information on a candidate's position.  You'll have to do a bit of research.  Once it is known who's running for election, there are a number of ways to find out a candidate's stands on public education. 

Know the issues ask candidates how they will support public education once elected!  The campaign season is an exciting time for advocates.  It's the most vulnerable time in an elected official's term, so incumbents and candidates will be doing everything they can to secure votes from their constituents.  Take advantage of the opportunity, and ask candidates how they plan to support public schools if they are elected.

Free Download Candidate Selection Guide This guide presents a list of questions that highlight the most pressing concerns and issues in public education today.

Have you ever looked at a ballot and wondered how you ended up with those choices? Let's back it up a few steps and see how it works.

Partisan Races
(state executive offices, legislative office, county races)

Step 1: Candidate Filing

Candidates interested in running for office file paperwork with the lt. governor or the county clerk by the filing deadline (March). When they file, candidates indicate which political party they wish to represent.

Step 2: Caucuses

Voters gather according to party and voting precinct to elect local party leaders and delegates to state and county conventions. These meetings are all held on the same evening in March. Republican party caucus events.  Democratic party caucus events.  Important caucus information can be found here.

Step 3: Conventions

Sometime in the spring, the delegates who were elected at the caucuses attend county and state political conventions, where they vote for candidates to represent their party in the fall elections. If one candidate for a particular office receives 60% or more of the delegates' votes, that person's name will automatically appear on the November ballot. If no candidate receives 60% of the vote at the convention, the top two candidates are sent to a primary election. (More information about political parties here: Republican, Democrat)

Step 4: Primary Election

In a June primary election, voters choose between two candidates from the same party to determine who will participate in the November election.

Step 5: General Election

When voters go to the polls on the first Tuesday in November, many of the important decisions have already been made. Voters are only able to choose from among the candidates that have made it through party conventions and primaries.

State School Board Races

Step 1: Candidate Recruitment and Selection Committee

By November 1st in a year preceding an election (in odd-numbered years), the governor appoints twelve members to a "nominating and recruiting committee." The committee members represent different business and education sectors, as defined by statute: (1) manufacturing and mining; (2) transportation and public utilities; (3) service, trade, and information technology; (4) finance, insurance, and real estate; (5) construction; (6) agriculture; (7) teachers; (8) school administrators; (9) parents; (10) local school board members; (11) charter schools; and (12) higher education. The committee works to recruit candidates for school board seats that will be up for election in the next year.

Step 2: Candidate Filings

Candidates who are interested in running for a seat on the Utah State Board of Education-those recruited by the committee and those who have decided on their own to seek the seats-file to run for office with the lieutenant governor's office or the county clerk.

Step 3: Candidate Interviews and Selection by Committee

The state selection committee reviews resumes and interviews candidates for all races in which more than three candidates have filed. The committee selects at least three candidates in each race and submits those names to the governor for consideration. Incumbents are not given priority and their names are not automatically placed on the ballot or forwarded to the governor.

Step 4: Candidate Selection by Governor

The governor reduces the list of candidates in each race to two and submits those names to the lt. governor for the ballot.

Step 5: General Election

When voters go to the polls in November, they will choose between the two candidates that the selection committee and the governor have chosen.

Local School Board Races

Step 1: Candidate Filing

Candidates interested in holding a position on a local school board file to run with the county clerk by the designated filing deadline (March).

Step 2: Primary Election

If more than two candidates file to run for the same seat, a primary election is held to narrow the list to two candidates.

Step 3: General Election

When voters go to the polls in November, they choose between the two candidates selected by the voters during the primary election.


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