School Board races starting to take shape

Candidates canÂ’t file to run until May 17, but some campaigns are rolling

Four of nine seats on the Minneapolis Board of Education come open this fall, and early hints of who might appear on the ballot are beginning to emerge.

At least three candidates are planning first-time runs for the board: Bob Walser in District 4 and Kimberly Caprini and KerryJo Felder in District 2. All three names appeared on the Minneapolis DFL website as candidates seeking the party’s endorsement.

That District 2 seat representing North Minneapolis is currently held by Kim Ellison, but it will be empty next year. Instead, Ellison is seeking the only one of three at-large seats on the Board of Education that comes open this fall.

Carla Bates, the board’s senior member, occupies that at-large seat, but Ellison said the two have spoken and Bates does not plan to run again. First elected in 2008, Bates is the board’s longest-serving member. (A phone call to Bates was not immediately returned.)

Ellison said she hoped her shift to the at-large role would make room for more diversity on the board. She said she’s spoken with both Caprini and Felder about their District 2 campaigns, but doesn’t plan to make an endorsement.

At least one other candidate has announced plans to challenge for that citywide seat. Doug Mann announced on an online forum that he would be making his tenth attempt at winning public office this fall.

Walser, an ethnomusicologist and musician married to a Minneapolis Public Schools teacher, may go up against first-term incumbent Josh Reimnitz in District 4, which includes the neighborhoods around Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles, as well as a portion of downtown. That’s only if Reimnitz decides to run for a second term. Reimnitz wasn’t ready to declare a re-election campaign during a brief phone conversation Monday, but said “hopefully” he would run.

School Board Member Tracine Asberry recently launched a re-election campaign for her District 6 seat representing Southwest Minneapolis south of Lake Street. MPS parent Ira Jourdain, who finished fourth in a four-way race for an at-large board seat in 2014, said he would challenge Asberry in District 6 this fall. Jourdain’s name also appeared on the Minneapolis DFL’s list of candidates seeking endorsement.

The two-week candidate filing period officially opens May 17.

UPDATE: The day after this story was posted, Carla Bates called to clarify her plans for November. Bates said it is not likely she will run for re-election, but that answer is not yet definitive.

“I’m not running for the DFL endorsement and I don’t know if I will be running at all,” Bates said.