Well connected people

I don’t think there is any inviolable rule for or against School District employees taking part in school board races but, as a frequent candidate myself, I do pay attention to their involvement.

After I got elected to the Board in 1995 I recall one lower level administrator telling me that their boss the Directer of Curriculum forbade them to so much as put up a lawn sign in their yard. I always found that humorous because a few years earlier I had seen their boss at a Brad Bennett reelection fundraiser in the Gopher Restaurant’s basement. Still, it would be wise for some administrators to keep a safe distance.

I thought about that a week ago when a visitor to candidate David Kirby’s Facebook page noticed that the Superintendent had liked one of the posts. Perhaps the Superintendent will make a point of liking something on all of the candidate’s Facebook pages before the campaign is over.

I thought about it again this morning when I learned that a group of folks along with candidate Renee Van Nett stopped by the house of Alanna Oswald’s Campaign Chairman, Thomas Bersell. They greeted Thomas, a retired teacher (guidance counselor) himself, as he was leaving his house wearing his Alanna Oswald lapel pin. They asked him if he could be counted on to support Renee while he was standing beside his Alanna Oswald lawn sign. This took Mr. Bersell aback and then the door knockers, who gave the impression of being teachers, told him that they were friends of the Superintendent perhaps hoping that this would seal the deald. It didn’t.

This would be a good time to note that the Duluth Federation of Teachers recently decided not to endorse an at large candidate at this time. Apparently Annie Harala called the DFT office to complain that they had not supported her preferred candidate, Renee.

Annie was not the only person to object to the DFT’s non endorsement. This is even funnier.

Sunday night I attended a meeting at Temple Israel that I’ll be blogging about later. I was the lone board member there but there were three school board candidates present. So was Marci Stromgren who was a candidate for the school board in a previous election. Marci and Renee were speaking together as the meeting closed and Alanna happened to walk past them on her way out. Alanna paused briefly to tell Renee Van Nett that it was nice to get the chance to campaign at the same gatherings. This was nice way to reciprocate for Renee’s having made a friendly acknowledgement of Alanna during the meeting.

Marci, who is a regluar at School Board meetings where she videotapes the proceedings, grilled Alanna and asked her why she hadn’t come to last week’s school board meeting. Alanna explained that she had been kept an hour and a half at the DFT screening committee with the other candidates. Mishearing her Marci said something to the affect that the DFL hadn’t treated her well when she ran for the School Board. Alanna corrected the conversation explaining that it was the DFT (Duluth Federation of Teachers) who had kept candidates late.

To this Marci replied that the DFT had treated her even worse than the DFL. Renee jumped in and said that she too was ticked off at the DFT because they hadn’t endorsed her. Then Renee stopped short looking at Alanna. Alanna had also asked for the union’s endorsement. Apparently Renee expected that she would get the teacher’s union support because the DFL had endorsed Renee even before school board filings closed. As my elementary school grandsons would say, “Awkward!”

Maybe some administrators should take a page out of the teacher’s union playbook on candidate support.