The Rochester Education Association has endorsed three of the candidates running for the Rochester School Board.

The association is the union representing teachers of Rochester Public Schools. The endorsed candidates include Don Barlow, Jess Garcia and Karen MacLaughlin. Of the three, Barlow is the only incumbent.

“We had six very strong, strong candidates,” REA President Dan Kuhlman said. “I can’t say enough of how difficult a decision it was.”

Rochester School Board Candidate Dr. Jessica R. Garcia (Contributed photo)
Rochester School Board Candidate Dr. Jessica R. Garcia (Contributed photo)

The REA committee making the endorsements consisted of a handful of the organization’s members. As part of the endorsement process, the committee screened the candidates to learn about their positions and experience.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Kuhlman said the committee looked at the candidates' ability to address student needs. He referenced Garcia’s work as a clinical psychologist and how that would be beneficial to the district’s stance on mental health. He referenced MacLaughlin’s work with under-represented groups as an attorney in the legal system.

Rochester School Board Candidate Karen MacLaughlin. (Contributed photo)
Rochester School Board Candidate Karen MacLaughlin. (Contributed photo)

Barlow is the only person of color currently on the board. Kuhlman said his representation of minority students, as well as the work he’s done advocating for minority students, was a factor in the REA’s endorsement of him.

Kuhlman clarified that the choice of candidates is not a comment on the two incumbents who did not receive an endorsement. Rather, he said, the candidates who received endorsements had a "representative voice" that distinguished them from the others.

"I think we were blessed to have some very strong candidates to pick from," Kuhlman said. "It was just a matter of having to come to a decision."

Don Barlow
Don Barlow