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School board candidates meet at Breakfast with Gary

Minneapolis school board candidates vying for two at-large seats, as well District Three, and District Five will be part of a candidate forum at this month's Breakfast with Gary. This year will be the first that voters will have the chance to elect three school board members by district as well as two at-large board members. The new districts correspond to those already existing for Park and Recreation Board.

With three current school board members not seeking re-election, T. Williams is the only incumbent in the race. He is scheduled to participate in the candidate forum along with fellow candidates David DeGrio, Richard Mammen, Doug Mann, and Dick Velner. All are running for an at-large seat. Hussein Samatar is running unopposed for District Three and Alberto Monserrate is unopposed for District Five. During the
forum, candidates will have a few minutes to introduce themselves and then take questions from the audience.

"Making sure our kids are getting a great education is critically important to having a healthy community, " said Council Member Gary Schiff. "Making sure we are picking strong leaders to head up our schools is a key step to getting us there."

Breakfast with Gary is a monthly meeting held from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. the final Friday of the month at the Mercado Central, 1515 East Lake Street. $5 buys breakfast.

School board candidates meet at Breakfast with Gary

- Quezada, Heidi. March 12, 2010

November election will change Minneapolis school board

When Minneapolis voters go to the polls this November, they will see many changes as they elect members of the Board of Education - from who's running to the structure of the board itself.

Currently, all seven members of the Minneapolis Board of Education are elected as at-large representatives. A 2008 referendum resulted in the overwhelming adoption of a plan that established election districts for the Board that coincide with existing districts for the Parks and Recreation Board. Minneapolis voters will elect five members to the Board of Education this fall, and four in 2012.

The 2010 election will include the eastern Board of Education districts (1, 3 and 5) as well as two at-large seats. In 2012, the western Board of Education districts (2, 4, and 6) as well as one other at-large seat will be elected to fill the new board. Overall, the size of the board will increase from seven to nine members by 2013 as the new system is rolled out over the 2010 and 2012 elections.

With the additional seat, and the announcements by current board members Chris Stewart, Tom Madden, and Pam Costain (see excerpt from her statement in sidebar, full statement here) that they will not seek re-election, a handful of fresh faces will be on the ballot. Incumbent T. Williams has said he will run for re-election to an at-large seat.

However, Williams is not alone. Other candidates for the two at-large seats include:

* Richard Mammen, the founding executive director of the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board and the present director of Recreation Services for the Minneapolis Park & Recreation;
* David Joseph DeGrio, a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system chemistry professor who previously ran as an Independence Party candidate for State House 59A in 2008;
* Doug Mann, a substitute Educational Associate or instructional assistant in the Edina Public School system

Of the three geographical election districts, District 1 is the only competitive race at this point. Marcia Thomas, who works for the University of Minnesota and is currently a parent representative on the Northeast Middle School Building Leadership Team Committee and a parent representative on the Pillsbury School Site Council, faces Jenny Arneson. Arneson is a former Minneapolis Public Schools employee who taught social skills groups for children throughout the district, and also led the Waite Park Community School PTA and has been an active member of Public Education Northeast.

In District 3, Hussein Samatar is currently the only candidate. The founder and executive director of the African Development Center. Samatar is a Somali native who came to Minnesota in 1994. He serves on the boards of the Minneapolis Foundation, CommonBond Communities, and the Dean's Advisory Board of the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Alberto Monserrate, the CEO and president of Latino Communications Network, is running unopposed in District 5. Monserrate moved from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Minnesota in 1984 to pursue a degree from the University of Minnesota.

Most candidates we spoke to saw the new school board set-up and expansion as a positive for Minneapolis schools. Citing factors ranging from diversity of representation to a more community-based focus, many were excited for the future of the Minneapolis Board of Education.

"I hope the new system will make the board more diverse and inclusive," said Monserrate. "The district candidates that I've met have also demonstrated to me that they care as much about the issues of the entire school district, as much as the city wide candidates."

However, with those hopes for better representation and diversity on the board, many candidates pointed out that it could lead to some unforeseen issues as well.

"I am excited about the new school boad election system. I believe district representation will give folks easier access to school board directors and create an opportunity to hear the perspectives of communities throughout Minneapolis," said Thomas. "However, there is also a danger that district representation could lead to the election of school board directors who are only able to work for the interests of a small geographical area."

In the end, optimism prevailed for the candidates. "I would not even be running had it not been for the new system," said Samatar. "I believe that I can have a bigger impact."

For many of the candidates, the next big step will be the Minneapolis DFL endorsing convention, tentatively set for May 22. Peter Tharaldson, the 5th Congressional District chair for the Independence Party of Minnesota said that they tend to do endorsements for local non-partisan races closer to the filing date. Requests to the Minneapolis City Republican Committee for comment went unanswered.

November elections will change Minneapolis school board

- Kaplan, David. Daily Planet. February 22, 2010

Prepared and paid for by Alberto Monserrate for Minneapolis School Board, Mary Bock - Treasurer, 4454 47th Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55406 612-730-2071
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