This Saturday, May 13, the DFL city convention will be held at Patrick Henry High School, 4320 Newton Ave. N. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with the call to order at 10 a.m.
This year, the main order of business will be the endorsement of candidates for the Minneapolis school board. Of the four seats that are up for election, only one incumbent is running again, chair Joe Erickson (a Marcy parent). The other three incumbents are stepping down: Judy Farmer, Audrey Johnson, and Colleen Moriarty.
After several years of intense frustration on the part of parents, resulting from such debacles as the school-closing process two years ago, teacher realignment, and Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles’ tenure and resignation, nine candidates, in addition to incumbent Erickson, are running for the four open board seats. They are Pam Costain, Jill Davis, Fred Easter, Polly Harrison-Townsend, Judith James, Tom Madden, Doug Mann, Chris Stewart, and T. Williams. The candidates’ web site addresses are all listed on the Minneapolis Parents Forum web site.
If you’re interested in the school board race and the positions of each candidate, this site, which is produced by some very dedicated, smart, involved Minneapolis parents, is definitely something you should check out. The first page currently shows a graphic of candidate support as reported in an unscientific straw poll offered to members of the Minneapolis Parents Forum e-mail list. Candidates Madden, Costain, and Steward are way out in front, with 39, 35, and 34 “votes,” respectively, and Jill Davis is in fourth place with 14 votes. Following the top four are T Williams (13), Fred Easter (9), Polly Harrison-Townsend (8), Joseph Erickson (4), Doug Mann (2), and Judith James (1).
These results are of limited value, of course, because only 50 out of the 265 members of the MPS Parents Forum members responded (about 18 percent), and only 60 percent of those responding said they were delegates to the convention. Still, it is interesting to see the significant lead of Madden, Costain, and Stewart, and the poor showing of Erickson, the only incumbent in the race.
In contrast to the results of the straw poll, the Minneapolis Teachers Federation has endorsed Costain, Davis, Erickson, and Williams.
People interested in these candidates have had many opportunities to learn about them, as they have taken part in several debates around the city, including one at Anne Sullivan Communication Center and one translated into Spanish. First, check out Craig Cox’s report in The Bridge from the one candidate debate held east of the Mississippi River. In addition, KFAI broadcast an hour with all of the school board candidates on May 3, and that segment can be heard online. Also, Steve Brandt, who covers education for the Star Tribune, has a summary of the candidates, and the Minneapolis Parents Forum web site, cited above, gives parents the opportunity to submit questions for the candidates to answer. Several important questions have now been posted, and you can see the responses that candidates have submitted.
Finally, in conjunction with the National Association of Letter Carriers, which is holding its “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council will be collecting nonperishable food items at the city convention. The donations will be added to what the letter carriers collect.