GUNNISON—Kim Pickett, a member of the South Sanpete School Board, says an article in last week’s Sanpete Messenger and Gunnison Valley Gazette about his candidacy for the Utah State School Board had a number of inaccuracies and did not tell the whole story of Pickett’s experience with far-right organizations or political action committees (PACs).
The article said a PAC called Utah Platform Republicans did not send its “pre-convention” questionnaire to all candidates.
What actually happened, Pickett says, was several weeks prior to the convention, the group gave his opponent a “dark green” rating, which meant “strongly approve.” It rated him “light green,” which stood for “approve.” Then just before the convention, the group changed his rating to “white,” which stood for neutral.
Pickett contacted the group and asked what the basis was for the change. A representative said the group had talked to some people in the Republican Party and gone with their recommendations.
The representative went on to say the group would be sending out questionnaires to candidates. Pickett asked if they had sent or would send their questionnaire to all candidates. The representative admitted the answer was “no.”
When Pickett got the questionnaire, it contained about 30 questions, including many essay questions, and would have been time-consuming to fill out. Since it hadn’t been sent to all candidates and since the Utah Platform Republicans had obviously endorsed his opponent, he decided not to complete it.
The earlier Messenger story said Pickett was concerned about another PAC called Americans for Prosperity. Pickett says he never had any contact with a group by that name and did not mention such a group in his conversation with the Messenger reporter who wrote the story.
Pickett says he did talk with the Messenger reporter about Utah Parents United, a familiar right-wing parent group.
After Utah Parents United also endorsed Green, Pickett called and asked how they made the decision. The person he talked to asked, “Who are you and what are you running for?” which let Pickett know she didn’t know much about state school board races.
The person at Utah Parents United told Pickett the group had sent out a questionnaire but said “it must have gone to your spam” file. She said the group had also texted him. But Pickett had only given out his landline number, so it should have been obvious a text to the number would not go through.
Pickett said PACs have a right to endorse whomever they choose. He says his point was, “Don’t say you’re objective” when you’re clearly not giving all candidates an equal opportunity to be considered.
The article quoted Pickett as saying, “I won’t support any group that thinks they have the answer to everything.”
Pickett says what he believes he said and what he intended to say was that he won’t support a group that expects him to go along with 100 percent of the positions the group comes up with.
The story said that after being on the South Sanpete School Board for multiple terms, Pickett had learned school administration was more complicated than he first realized and had learned to rely on “more seasoned board members.”
Pickett says he never used that phrase. He says he has learned to listen to various viewpoints, such as teachers, administrators and other board members.
The story included an anecdote about an experience in Pickett’s youth when he drove a small tractor over a neighbor’s field that had just been irrigated, which damaged the neighbor’s crop.
The story quoted Pickett as saying his father scolded him. Pickett says his father never scolded him and didn’t need to because he felt bad enough already. Subsequently, his father did repair the damage to the other farmer’s field.