DFL delegates endorse School Board candidates

New faces were favored over the sole incumbent, Joseph Erickson

The DFL party endorsed four candidates for the Minneapolis School Board during its convention earlier this month - a slate with a vision for reforming the school district.

The delegates endorsed Pam Costain, Tom Madden, Chris Stewart and Theatrice (T.) Williams at the May 13 convention.

Costain achieved the majority of votes, Stewart came in second and nonprofit researcher Williams and marketing consultant Tom Madden followed in third and fourth place. Current Board Chair Joseph Erickson, the sole incumbent to run, wasn't endorsed again.

Although Erickson received DFL support four years ago, district problems such as critical budget cuts, school closures and the dismissal of former Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles weakened support. Incumbents in previous races, however, also failed to get the DFL stamp of approval. Candidates Jill Davis and Polly Harrison-Townsend also dropped out.

Only one of the seven board members currently serving will remain next January. No Republican candidates are running. Doug Mann sought Green Party approval, though unsuccessfully.

The School Board shapes the district's policies, hires a superintendent and oversees general operations.

Here's the endorsed slate at a glance:

– Pam Costain, 55 - Lowry Hill neighborhood resident and political organizer for Wellstone Action, former director of Save Our School and the Resource Center for the Americas;

– Tom Madden, 39 - Bancroft neighborhood resident marketing consultant;

– Chris Stewart, 38 - Wenonah resident and business services specialist for the state, consultant for social services, founder and director of Work for People; and

– Theatrice (T) Williams, 71 - Willard-Hay resident and nonprofit researcher, former corrections ombudsperson for the state, Humphrey Institute Fellow, former public housing director, co-founder of the Minneapolis Urban Coalition.

School Board candidate forums are underway through the November election. One key issue is the possibility of restructuring the School Board in favor of a larger board with some elected officials representing a specific portion of the city.

A candidate forum is slated for Monday, May 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Jordan Park Community School, 1501 30th Ave. N. hosted by the Jordan Park site council. For more information about the forum, call the school at 668-2240 or Joanne Ulm at 588-2332 or Peggy Clark at 247-2632. A Hmong interpreter will attend.

Some of the candidates are also planning informal meetings.