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20 Minutes with Andrew Caplan, Park City School board candidate

On Thursday, I had the chance to speak with Andrew Caplan and Thomas Cooke, who are competing for Park City School Board District #2. If you are in District #2, you can either vote for either candidate. If you don’t know if you are in District #2, here is a map.

This is the discussion with Andrew. It was highly informative and I learned a lot. Hopefully, you’ll find it engaging as well.

Most of the questions were sourced from Park Rag readers. Thank you! I tried to keep the discussion close to twenty minutes (although this went over thirty), so I was only able to get to a handful of the 50 questions people had. However, I think we had a good discussion that touched on the essence of many readers’ questions.

Please note, I debated whether to enable comments on this and Thomas’s discussion. Politics is nasty in general. Likewise, we are starting to get people personally attacking others on the Park Rag. That’s not what I want here.

So, please add to the conversation and the discussion. Please praise and attack ideas and not people. It’s hard to run for public office and we don’t need to frighten the best people away from upcoming elections. As usual, I will moderate the comments to make sure they add to the discussion and deal with ideas and not people.

We’re all in this together. On to Park City School Board President Andrew Caplan…

Comments

7 Comments

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Walt

What a fantastic set of interviews, thanks Josh!

I came away impressed with both candidates… and basically unable to distinguish them on actual policy issues. Mr. Cooke doesn’t actually seem to disagree with Mr. Caplan about much, unless I missed something.

I guess to sum up:

-The district website sucks, and has sucked, for years. The buck stops at the school board, and Mr. Cooke is right to point this one out. The entire IT staff should have been replaced long ago, probably – it took my wife more than 2 weeks to just get a PCSD email address. Pathetic. The board/Mr. Caplan need to do better here.

-Mr. Caplan has a lot of comprehensive understanding of complex issues (yeah, we can’t let SSSD kids just come here… I didn’t know how that worked at all) and that’s pretty valuable on the board. Bringing Mr. Cooke up to speed would take time for all involved – not the end of the world, but also not ideal.

-It’s amazing to see how much your view of the situation is impacted by your perspective. Mr. Caplan has elementary aged kids but has to deal with the whole system, Mr. Cooke has a high schooler at a private school – and his concerns reflect that, pretty clearly.

-They both want voter approval of big capital expenses.

I think they’d both be great, but if I was voting (I’m not in the district) I’d vote for Mr. Caplan just to keep that experience and expertise earned from 4 years on the board. Many people don’t seem to like his personal style/blunt form of communication… but I’m ok with it. To be clear, though, I think they’re both great candidates and would both do an excellent job.

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Parkrag

Thanks Walt

I thought both Andrew and Thomas did a great job. While I can’t vote either, I wish they could both be on the board. The four years of experience shows with Andrew. I’ve visited with him before and always found him considerate and thoughtful. I think he also addressed some of the negative criticism that can come with his style. He said sometimes he gets defensive and gets a little aggressive. Overall I think he is an asset on the board.

With Thomas, he doesn’t have the school board experience, but he has a different set of experiences. I think his Planning Commission experience has shown he can dive into great detail. It’s sort of like Chris Robinson on the Summit County Council. I don’t always agree with his decision making; however, that dude is willing to go through contracts with a fine-tooth comb. His willingness to spend 2 hours nitpicking an agreement has undoubtedly saved Summit County residents from some bad mistakes. I see that in Thomas. I think he would be an asset on the board and bring something that doesn’t seem to be there now.

I just need one of these two candidates to move to a different area in Park City :-).

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Walt

Honestly, the whole school board is pretty great. Everyone on the board is well qualified and wants the best for our kids. Nobody evil runs for school board!

I think the situation is this: we have a bunch of problems (legacy development rights now being built, regional coordination/lack thereof, congestion/population growth/traffic, etc) that do not lend themselves to ideal solutions. We have only bad (or at least expensive) choices.

That’s hard for the board, because voters tend to think there must be a better solution out there – and that’s why we’ve seen so much turnover over the years. New board members who ran on a “the board isn’t being transparent/honest/etc, we can do better” platform end up in the same situation as their predecessors – making hard/unpopular decisions (sometimes they get harder – ie, bond failure/grade realignment). Then rinse and repeat.

It’s painful to watch and makes me wonder if we’ll stay in PC for the long haul, honestly.

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Turnover is Normal

You’re right, no one evil runs for school board, but plenty of narcissistic people run for public office just to feed their dysfunctional egos. I hope that the public chooses the best candidate who will work for the best outcomes for students. School boards and superintendents traditionally have a high turn over rate. This is to be expected and is not necessarily a bad thing. New people have fresh eyes and are less burned out. I’m frankly surprised the district didn’t lose any board members after such a tough year with the pandemic. They did lose plenty of other staff. As far as the unpopular and hard decisions goes, the board should be building consensus within the community until decisions are accepted by the majority instead of pushing things through. Spending a hundred million dollars is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. I may not be in PC for the long haul not because this is painful to watch, but because I can’t afford the taxes on my house.

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Truth to Power

Interesting comments Walt about the candidates.

From the inside of PCSD, I must say that you are missing a huge factor here. Caplan is not in reality how he presents himself in this interview or others. If you see how he has treated the teachers he professes to care about, you would have a new perspective. If you saw how he bullies folks, you would have a new perspective. If you saw how he manipulated and threatened good faith negotiations, you would have a new perspective. If you saw how he prioritized contract negotiations over a safe reopening, leaving it to an overwhelmed admin and teachers, risking their lives, you would have a new perspective.

Don’t buy his new con about being transparent, or his gift of the gab. His actions speak louder than his words. Even the superintendent signed a letter from the health department about the unreadiness of the reopening. We are extremely lucky things have not been worse. Go to the Covid dashboard and you will find the numbers are inconsistent with those of the state and have been over 15 in the high school. The lives of our community are being gambled against an unrelenting viral opponent for political and economic gain.

The state of pcsd right now is extremely poor under his watch. We used to be at the pinnacle and now we are amongst the least forward thinking and acting. It’s time for a change!

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Walt

I thought we weren’t attacking people, Josh…

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Parkrag

You are right Walt. It is so hard to separate constructive feedback versus a personal attack. In retrospect, not one comment here by any one of us has been about policy, although I think you tried and concluded that Andrew and Thomas were aligned on policy.

So, I am shutting it down. Thanks for keeping things honest.

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