The Southwest Journal’s voter’s guide includes stories on the three competitive races for the Minneapolis School Board and questionnaires with candidates running for the U.S. House and the state House and Senate. We also include a rundown of everything you’ll see on your ballot, including an explanation of the city’s two referendums. You can read our full 2020 voter’s guide here.
The race for the District 4 seat vacated by Bob Walser features two first-time candidates who say their experience working with youth and familiarity with the educational system is why they’re best positioned for the role.
Christa Mims, a social worker for Hennepin County’s child protection system, has directed a school, taught English abroad and led county efforts to reduce disparities in education.
She said she has experience managing budgets and working on a nonprofit board and her experience as a social worker has given her insight into the different factors impacting Minneapolis families.
“I think we need people with a very balanced view of the education system so we can identify places where we can improve and celebrate … good work,” she said in a July interview.
Adriana Cerrillo, an activist and consultant, emigrated from Mexico to the U.S.
as a teenager and has been a champion of efforts to secure rights for undocumented immigrants over the past decade.
She said she’s proven her mettle as the legal guardian of her nephew, for whom
she demanded better educational services at his elementary school, Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center in Loring Park.
She also has touted her experience as an education advocate for families of color through the organization Minnesota Comeback (now called Great Minnesota Schools) and as an Emerson site council member.
“We need to have a voice that will not settle,” she said in July.
Mims and Cerrillo have similar priorities, with both calling for diverse staff and curricula and increased support services, such as counselors and therapists, and vowing to tackle racial disparities.
Mims said she wants to empower families through engagement and clear communication, noting that many felt voiceless when the School Board passed the Comprehensive District Design (CDD) restricting plan in May.
While she has avoided taking a public stance on the controversial plan, she said it’s critical for the district to listen to families during implementation and provide transparent and accessible information.
“I really think we need to think about the ways which we communicate and how the traditional method of communicating is not reaching many of our populations of color in particular,” she said at a virtual forum in July.
Cerrillo has been vocally critical of the CDD, saying it was all about saving money on transportation. She has emphasized the importance of engaging with families on the CDD during implementation, calling it her top priority.
Another priority of hers would be pushing to pool all voter-approved school levies in Hennepin County so that districts with less taxing capacity receive more funds. (A nonprofit found that MPS would see a $186 per-pupil boost in revenue if taxes were pooled in Hennepin County.)
“Without this financial support, it is much harder for students to be successful,” she said at the July forum.
Mims, who lives with her wife in Downtown, earned the Minneapolis DFL endorsement over Cerrillo and former candidate Kirsten Ragatz at the party’s virtual convention in May. Mims and Cerrillo were chosen to run in the general election in an Aug. 11 primary.
District 4 covers Downtown, the ECCO neighborhood and the seven Southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods north of Lake Street.
Christa Mims (DFL-endorsed)
Occupation: Social worker
Priorities: Closing racial disparities, investing in teachers of color, empowering parents and ensuring financial stability
In her own words: “I really want to be an advocate and a voice for our youth and families that I feel like have been ignored traditionally in the feedback process.”
Fundraising: $9,580 between Jan. 1 and July 28
Occupation: Activist and consultant
Priorities: Full and equitable funding for schools, allowing disadvantaged schools to request additional resources, ending the school-to-prison pipeline
In her own words: “It is time to have a bold approach to create equitable education for all students, and I will be the fearless leader that our children and families need.”
Fundraising: $8,675 between Jan. 1 and July 28