Supporters for opposing school board candidates campaign ahead of upcoming primary election
Although school board members are elected as individuals, the two groups essentially have been positioned in opposition to one another, and differ in opinions on most issues.
ROCHESTER — With just a week before the primary election, supporters for competing school board candidates gathered at the Edison Building to reinforce their messages.
The supporters belonged to one of two camps: those supporting the incumbents, and those supporting the bloc of four conservative candidates. Although school board members are elected as nonpartisan individuals, the two groups essentially have positioned themselves in opposition to one another, and differ in opinions on most issues.
One of the supporters for the conservative bloc, Jan Throndson, pulled a digital signboard on a trailer behind his vehicle and parked along the street. The sign rotated through a couple different messages, such as “Vote for your children, August 9 primary.”
“We need change in our school board,” Throndson said. “We need to take our school system back and start teaching reading, writing and arithmetic and get out of the wokeness.”
Throndson said another thing important to him is to have more parental voice and involvement in the school system.
Another supporter for the conservative bloc, Dave Sprenger, voiced concern about what he sees as inconsistent messaging from the incumbents about the district’s finances and the way they dealt with the district’s deficit.
The four members of the bloc include Elena Niehoff, Kim Rishavy, Rae Parker, and John Whelan.
Others walked up and down the sidewalks, carrying signs that said “Vote Incumbents” or held signs that bore the candidates’ individual names.
“This is the last board meeting before the primary election, and so we wanted to show that there really are people who very seriously support the incumbents,” Marilyn Theismann said. “It’s a challenging time in education. We value their experience and knowledge and we think they should continue on the board… they are looking for the good of the entire district always.”
Another supporter, Betty Danielson, reiterated the incumbents' experience, saying they have the right information and have worked well with the superintendent.
The incumbents include Cathy Nathan, Julie Workman and Jean Marvin.
The fourth incumbent, Melissa Amundsen, is not seeking re-election but has publicly supported candidate Justin Cook. Other candidates not associated with either group include Abdullahi Omar Yusuf, Patrick Farmer and A. Mohamed “Chief.”
As listed by the Minnesota Secretary of State:
- Justin Cook
- Rae Parker
- Abdullahi Omar Yusuf
- John Whelan
- Julie Workman
- A. Mohamed “Chief”
- Jean Marvin
- Kimberly Rishavy
- Patrick Farmer
- Cathy Nathan
- Elena Niehoff