We are both unaffiliated candidates running for the Board of Education as part of the Row B slate. We have already spoken with many of you and look forward to hearing from more residents about how the board can better serve them. We’re running because we believe we can help the board be more pragmatic and less partisan so we can all continue to be proud of Wilton’s schools.
In our conversations with voters, the important issue of transparency in our town boards frequently arises. We both have children in Wilton’s schools and understand why this topic is critical to so many parents, students, and taxpayers. Ensuring clear communication between all these stakeholders and the Board is, in fact, a centerpiece of our campaigns. Through our personal experience as parents (and Heather’s experience as a Middlebrook teacher!), we fully understand that “transparency” must be more than a campaign season buzzword.
Aside from being working parents and taxpayers, both of us currently have the unique vantage point afforded by the fact that our spouses are successful teachers in Wilton’s schools (both at Middlebrook). We’re proud of our spouses and reference them in our campaign literature for good reasons. The perspective we gain from educators in our families will add valuable insights for us as members of the BOE; it will help us improve schools and BOE functioning, just as a Wilton businessperson’s perspective and interest in the town are important as a Planning and Zoning member, and a taxpayer’s perspective and interest are important as a member of the Board of Finance.
We understand that our spouses’ positions as Wilton teachers may create questions about whether, as members of the BOE, we could face conflicts of interest. That is why we proactively contacted Wilton’s Council on Ethics in August, before campaigns began. We made clear to the Council who we are and what we are doing, and we offered to be of help to the Council should it need more information.
For those who may be unaware, Wilton has a Code of Ethics that all board members and town employees promise to follow. The Code provides procedures for board members (and town employees) to follow where potential conflicts arise, including recusal and advisory opinions. Prior to running, we both reviewed the Code and BOE responsibilities in detail; we’re comfortable that we can serve the town well while complying with the Code. For example, Wilton’s teachers’ contract will be negotiated in 2026; negotiations are handled by the administration and require only one board member to participate, so it is straightforward for us to recuse ourselves from this board responsibility. We are both experienced professionals and keenly aware of our obligations, and we want to make clear that any potential conflicts will be addressed transparently, as and when they arise, by following the procedures outlined in the Code.
In response to our disclosure, the Wilton Council on Ethics suggested that we continue to be transparent and talk with voters about the situation and how we will handle any potential conflicts. Where recusal is required, we will recuse ourselves. If a matter is ambiguous, we will seek an advisory opinion as outlined by the Code, and all of this will be open and posted to the BOE website. This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to you, the voters, our sincere interest in actual, meaningful transparency. We both believe the BOE should function in a way that invites the public into the conversation and not behind closed doors. Transparency is not just a buzzword to us. It’s why we are running.
We have a sincere interest in our town, our schools, and our students’ success. We know our unique perspectives will help us serve you.
For anyone who has questions or wants to share their perspectives, please contact us! We’d love to meet you for coffee at Orem’s or maybe a donut at Rise. And we will continue to see you around town!
Heather Priest and Mark Shaner
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