ST. GEORGE — With just over 61% as of Wednesday morning, Kristan Norton is the presumptive winner of the Republican primary vote for the 15th District seat of the Utah State Board of Education.
According to data shared by the Associated Press at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with 24,702 votes Norton leads Scott Smith by around 8,996 and stands as the presumptive winner for the 15th district, which encompasses both the Washington County and Iron County school districts. Incumbent Michelle Boulter did not run for reelection, and there is no Democrat candidate in the race.
Final results may come in as late as July 21 due to mail-in votes and quarantine protocol, Norton told St. George News, referring to an email she received from Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.
Norton, who’s been a fifth grade teacher for more than two decades and a lifetime resident of District 15, said it’s her experience and frontline position as a teacher that will inform how she represents the district.
“If it does hold true, I’m really looking forward to going to work. I won’t take office until January, but I think if I studied every day from now until January, there’s still more to learn because things are changing every single day,” she said. “I don’t know what schools are going to look like in January compared to now, and who knows what they’ll look like in August when we start.”
Norton said she expects money to be at the top of her mind in January.
“So that it’s going into important areas. It’s going into the classroom. It’s going to the students and that we’re able to use those resources carefully and effectively,” she said. “The other thing is going to be monitoring our health status so that we can provide all of our students with the most effective education that we can depending on what circumstances they and their family are in.”
Norton said she also believes increasing the value of teachers is critical to improving academics and helping to provide a remedy for the teacher shortage.
Looking ahead toward reopening schools, Norton said she likes how the state board is serving as a bridge between local districts, the governor’s office and health departments.
“They are providing guidance but leaving the majority of the decisions to be made at the local level, which is where it should be, because every school is going to be different,” she said.
Smith, who is showing 15,706 votes, has been working in education for the last 25 years, specifically with youth and troubled teens. He told St. George News he sent a congratulatory letter to Norton Wednesday morning.
“I had an amazing time. My wife and I got to meet so many amazing people and parents who were really concerned about education and wanted reform. And I was excited and passionate about reform,” Smith said. “We did what we could, and we met some great people, and we lost. There’s no blame or negativity. We were just so pleased to meet so many people that cared.”
Smith said he wishes Norton the best and hopes she listens to parents and can succeed in making needed changes.
“We’re at a unique time in Utah. I’m excited to see what parents, teachers, what everyone does, because everything’s being challenged now, and it’s going to take really good, strong leadership to help guide us through that. So, I hope the citizens elected good people to do that,” he said.
Norton told St. George News that even prior to the election she was listening to board meetings and trying get as up-to-date as possible at the chance of being elected.
Overall, running for election has given Norton a deeper appreciation for people working as public servants.
“We are really fortunate to have good people in our communities, in our state and in our nation that are running. I’ve always appreciated them, but now I have an even greater appreciation for what they’ve done. And I just think we’re lucky to live in this country.”
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