Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Controversial Black Panther Commemorating School District has 18 Filing for 5 Open Board Seats

Who says that the American people aren't invested in their government? In South Washington County School District 833 (Cottage Grove, Woodbury, Saint Paul Paul and Newport, MN), home to East Ridge High School and the controversial Black Panther Schoolwide Commemoration, an unprecedented EIGHTEEN (18) candidates are running for five open school board seats this year.  Of the eighteen, four are incumbents: Laurie Johnson, David Kemper, Katy McElwee-Stevens and Tracy Burnette.  Laurie Johnson is running for the only open two-year seat; the others are going for the open four year seat terms.  Marsha Adou is the only incumbent who declined to run again.

From Left-Right: Superintendent Dr. Keith Jacobus, Board Members Katy McElwee-Stevens, Jim Gelbmann, Tracy Brunette, David Kemper, Laurie Johnson, Chairman Ron Kath, and Marsha Adou
The four-year term challengers are: Frederick E. Hess (Woodbury), Katie Schwartz (St. Paul Park), John P. Griffin II (Woodbury), Molly Lutz (Woodbury), Leilani Holmstadt (Cottage Grove), Sharon H. Van Leer (Woodbury), Raj Gandhi (Woodbury), Mike Thissen (Woodbury), Wayne A Johnson (Cottage Grove), Michael P. Edman (Cottage Grove), and Safiyyah Cummings (Plymouth).

Three others have filed to challenge Laurie Johnson for the two-year term seat: Girma Dinssa (Woodbury), Susan Richardson (Woodbury) and David W. Firkus (Woodbury).

With a field this large, it will be hard for the challengers to overcome the name recognition advantage of the incumbents, but one can only hope that some of them do, since it is time for new faces on the school board. However, given that there is also a levy renewal and increase along with a new bond request going on this year's ballot, the voter turn-out should be higher than usual for off-year elections, which should play into the favor of the challengers.

Ironically, this spring the district released survey results that painted the general public's view of the job the school board and administration were doing as largely positive.  Somehow, it would seem that those results may have been misinterpreted when fourteen people file for school board; it is hard to believe that everyone sees the current board and administration as all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.

Let the campaign season begin! It will be a very interesting ride between now and November.

No comments:

Post a Comment