Candidate updates

The three candidates for the lone Duluth School Board at-large vacancy have now had op-ed pieces published in the Duluth News Tribune.

Renee Van Nett

Jim Unden

Alanna Oswald

I’ve only met Renee briefly after one of the School Board meetings. I sat down and had coffee with Jim a couple weeks ago and he shared his op ed piece with me a few days before it appeared in print. I got reacquainted with Alanna who was a student of mine after she successfully and single-handedly got the Minnesota Department of Education to pump even more money into Laura MacArthur after Alanna warned them that, in our effort to boost math and reading test scores, we had all but abandoned teaching any other subject. Alanna alludes to this in her op ed piece. She has a son at Denfeld and a daughter at Lincoln Middle school. I think Renee has a child in one of the Western elementary schools and a couple step children at Edison. Jim Unden has two daughters at Denfeld and is also personally familiar with the problems at his old alma mater. He joins Alanna as a Hunter alumni. The DFL endorsed Renee long before the school board filings were closed and before there were any other at-large candidates.

I’ve been slowly making the rounds to introduce myself to all of the school board candidates. I called Dr. Kirby a couple days ago and judging by his reaction took him a bit by surprise. He explained he had just gotten back from a vacation to his home state of Montana and was unpacking and watching his kids. He told me he’d call me back and we could set a date to meet at a later occasion.

He’s busily campaigning now. I understand he attended a DFL screening in preparation to fight for the party’s endorsement. Rosie Loeffler-Kemp is one of the undersigned supporters on his letter to DFLers and his picture is on Facebook carrying a Renee Van Nett sign in last week’s Spirit Valley Day parade. He reportedly told the DFLers that one person is to blame for all the school board travails of the last humiliating year. That’s at variance from my claim to be one of seven people responsible. I look forward to explaining my holistic point of view to him when we get together.

Charles Obije and Jane Hoffman have also recently appeared before a DFL screening committee looking for endorsement.

I did meet with Mr. Obije who is a well spoken man with unique credentials especially where the District’s minority students are concerned. These are the students who are doing abysmally test wise.

Jane Hoffman recently sent me an email to my District Account asking me if I was only giving space to Alanna Oswald. We had a pleasant exchange of email and I frankly admitted to Jane that I had asked Alanna to consider running a year ago. The reasons for my encouragement are amply demonstrated in her superb and knowledgeable Op-ed piece in today’s paper.(see the link at the top) No sitting member of the School Board can hold a candle to Alanna on a host of critical issues which honestly make my eyes glaze over. But, having said this, I have to add that any of the at-large candidates will be welcome by Art and me. None of the newcomers have either censured us on dubious grounds or voted to spend several hundred thousands of dollars to remove an outspoken Board member on the basis of tortured testimony.

I did blog about Alanna last year so no one can accuse me of being too Machiavellian in my support of her candidacy today.

Last night my future lunch date, Nora Sandstad, walked in with Annie Harala and sat through her first School Board committee meeting. I missed her afterwards so still must call to arrange a meeting with her. She too made an appearance before a DFL screening committee along with Loren Martell. It’s a different district so the screeners were different.

Its been suggested to me that the screeners tilt toward Nora, who had the head start in campaigning for the party’s support but that they were impressed with Loren. The convention will make the decision when it follows later this month.

Again I should be frank that in this contest I have a favorite. After what he has endured and persevered through, to explain the School Board to a shocked community, Loren Martell deserves the poetic justice his election would bring about. That said Nora Sandstad made it plain to the DFL screeners that she will be an absolutely impartial school board member should she win election. I wrote that this was Art Johnston’s takeaway in a previous post which elicited an excited email from one of my old Let Duluth Vote associates.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that, come January, Duluth will leave today’s school board far behind.

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