It was because of the prompting of her 7th-grade daughter at Lake Harriet Upper School that 44-year-old Stephanie Gaynor began to seriously consider running for school board. "She said to me, 'If you have so many ideas about how things should work, why don't you run for school board?' And from there I decided to run," said Gaynor.
Gaynor has been a special-education assistant at Lake Harriet Community School for the past year and a half and is especially concerned about the state keeping up with the mandate to provide special education. Though the funding is a statewide issue, Gaynor said she would work to maintain relationships with legislators to make sure they know about the needs of special-education children.
Gaynor said if elected, during school budgeting she'll keep a close watch on special-education funding to make sure the district stays within federal mandates.
Because the school board race is non-partisan, Gaynor was unaware that Minnesota political parties endorse candidates. She didn't seek any party's endorsements in 2002, but plans on running again if she isn't elected in November. Next time, she said, "I'll seek an endorsement, but not necessarily the DFL's."
A Linden Hills resident, Gaynor was a Neighborhood Revitalization Program coordinator for the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council. Nick Granath, the recently endorsed Green Party candidate for state Senate District 60, was a LhiNC board member during her tenure. "I remember her being outspoken, helpful and community-minded. She was very good as far as her aptitude for community service," said Granath.
Despite Gaynor's relative inexperience in schools governance, Granath -- a first-time legislative candidate -- said it shouldn't stop her from being a good school board member. "That shouldn't preclude her from running," Granath said. "She could be very helpful as a board member. We know that one [political] party has had a lock on the school board. That's one thing that Stephanie can give a contribution -- a perspective that's outside the DFL."
Gaynor largely supports the school district's policies. She does want to encourage the larger community to share the responsibilities of the public schools -- especially by increasing the number of adult volunteers.
She gives one example of how volunteers can improve the school environment. "We have some great programs at Lake Harriet [Community School] like the chess club. We had over 150 kids playing chess with their parents facilitating. These are all parents who work, and they are there and facilitating a chess club on a Friday afternoon. I think that's tremendous," said Gaynor.
Gaynor was impressed with her showing in the primary election, where she came in sixth out of 12 candidates with very little campaigning. Gaynor said, "I was surprised to find out the results. I know I have a lot of name recognition in my community and the school."
Stephanie Gaynor Address: 4107 Zenith Ave, S., 55410 Phone: 920-4874 Occupation: Special Education Assistant Family: Married, two children at Lake Harriet Community School Endorsements: none