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Elections 2021 – School Boards Reach A Tipping Point

School board elections are ground zero for seismic changes in the country; it's at this level of government that the Alt Right began it's most recent ascendance to political dominance in 2016. Often ignored, these elections are an ideal way for fringe concepts to work their way into "mainstream" political power, and this year is no different. The National Education Association observes QAnon galvinizing voters and tipping school board elections. Time Magazine ran a story on the same subject. And as the Right gathers under banners and dog-whistles about "Critical Race Theory" the debate has invaded local school boards, and presumably will have huge impact on upcoming elections.

We see this playing out all over MN. School Boards face a turning point with a deluge of regressive new candidates, and boards scrambling to achieve or hold onto a progressive majority. The implications of the scales being tipped toward conservative are huge: school boards determine everything from educational agendas to new hires to budget. Regressive politics would not just take aim at teaching the honesty history of this country, but would put sex education back in the cross-hairs.

Luckily there are just three things you need to do to fight back: 1) Educate yourself thoroughly about your school board election, 2) Tell your friends what you've found! Amplify the same way the Right is amplifying their candidates 3) Volunteer & donate - please do this. School board candidates have a very hard time getting volunteers because these elections are seen as "not important" (puzzling, when its about the education of the next generation). Please put it some shifts lit dropping or whatever the candidate needs. You will find it refreshing and uplifting! 4) And of course, vote!

Spotlight: White Bear Lake, Bloomington, Hastings, ISD (Independent School District) 196 (Rosemount, Apple Valley, Eagan), Wayzata, ISD 11 (Anoka Hennepin).

White Bear Lake: there are fourteen candidates (!) for four seats that are in play. "Coalition 624" has endorsed a slate of 4 pro-equity and inclusion candidates to make it simple for people in that area: "Coalition 624 is proud to endorse Jessica Ellison, Chris Streiff Oji, Deb Beloyed, and Kathleen Daniels for the White Bear Lake Area School Board. We support each candidate's dedication to empowering teachers to ask hard questions and ensure that ALL students receive the resources they deserve to become our future leaders. We know that diversity is our strength and honest, open communication is what we need at home, in the classroom and on the school board." FB post. No Resolutions of Support either way reported from the DFL in this one.

Bloomington: For the first time progressives have the majority on the Bloomington school board and activists are working hard to keep two progressives who are up for re-election (Tom Bennett and Dawn Steigaff), while the Right is working hard to flip those seats, as well as retain their incumbent. There is also a vacant seat (due to retirement), for a total of 4 seats in play. Progressives are aligning behind the two progressive incumbents (Tom Bennett and Dawn Steigaff); in addition some are favoring Patricia Riley, and Matt Dymoke for the other two seats. However there are other progressive candidates (Resolutions of Support from the DFL have been given to Dani Indovino Cawley and Matt Dymoke). Because this election does not have Ranked Choice Voting, there may be a split among progressives that loses the majority.

Bloomington School Board Candidates Patrica Riley (on left) and Matt Dymoke

Hastings: Progressives are supporting Tashina Miller, Kelsey Waits and Scott Gergen for the 3 seats in play. Resolutions of Support from the DFL (so far) have been given to Kelsey Waits. Several right wing candidates are gunning for seats.

From left to right Hastings candidates Tashina Miller, Kelsey Waits and Scott Gergen

ISD 196 — Rosemount, Apple Valley, Eagan: Three seats are up. Resolutions of Support (ROS) have been given to Kaia Zeigler and Rebecca Gierok from the all pertinent SDs in the DFL so far, and Bianca Virnig has also gotten a ROS from and SD — possibly more are in the works.

From left to right ISD 196 candidates Kaia Zeigler, Rebecca Gierok and Bianca Virnig

Wayzata: Three seats are in play. This year's election will decide whether the district will be governed by progressives or conservative right wingers. A coalition of progressive groups is supporting a slate that includes: Dr. Milind Sohini, Heidi Kader and Sarah Johansen. In addition, Dr. Sohini is also supported by the local DFL senate districts. They may follow with a resolution of support for the other two.

ISD 11 — Anoka/Hennepin: Three of six seats are up. Regressives are working hard with a massive disinformation campaign that has proven difficult to counter. Getting out the vote will be crucial here. Progressives are aligning behind Kacy Deschene (D3), Jill Bornes (D6), and newcomer (as well as spouse of Anna) Dave Dirkswager (D4).

From left to right ISD 11 candidates Kacy Deschene, Jill Bornes and Dave Dirkswager

ISD 199 — Inver Grove: Three of six seats are up. There is one QAnon candidate running. Progressive candidates are incumbent Carrie Lounsberry, Sarah Larsen and Charles Thompson.

From left to right ISD 199 candidates Carrie Lounsberry, Sarah Larsen and Charles Thompson.

Take one hour of action per week now until election day, 11/2!

I wish defeating the Alt Right was easy in this country. I wish that after defeating the 45th president's bid for re-election, we could afford to rest. But they are relentless, organized, funded and powerful. If you ever want to read how, I suggest reading Dog Whistle Politics, or The Sum of Us, or Alt America; the Rise of the Radical Right...

We just saw the chance for real impactful change slip through our fingers when Hollies Winston lost by TWO votes for mayor of Brooklyn Park. Instead of a mayor in favor of police reform, we have a GOP-endorsed mayor running Brooklyn Park. Those two votes could have come down to one person deciding to step up and take a volunteer shift. So please, commit to a chunk of time each week to help. Send this article to people you know in the district — personal contact makes all the difference! Then get in touch with a candidate to ask how you can help lit drop or donate. Thank you for joining this fight! Our children depend on it.

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