Tuesday, Nov. 5, is Election Day. Voters in Falcon Heights and Lauderdale will cast their ballots on a levy referendum for Roseville Area Schools and will choose between four candidates to fill three seats on the Roseville School Board. Falcon Heights voters will also be asked to choose between three candidates vying for two at-large seats on the Falcon Heights City Council. St. Paul voters have four candidates to choose from for the mayor’s seat and five candidates running to fill three seats on the St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education. Meet the candidates here.

Mayor, City of St. Paul

Four candidates are running for the four-year term of mayor for the City of St. Paul. This will be the first mayoral election in St. Paul to use ranked-choice voting, which voters approved in 2009. Voters will be asked to choose their first, second, third and fourth choice. Voters cannot choose the same candidate for more than one choice.

The winner will be the candidate who gets the majority of the first-choice votes on Election Day.

You can hear the candidates at a League of Women Voters forum scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. at the St. Paul Public Schools Central Office, Rooms A and B, at 360 Colborne St.

We asked the candidates to submit a short biography and tell us what they thought were the biggest challenges facing the city. Sharon Anderson, a retired real estate entrepreneur who filed for candidacy, did not return phone calls or emails, so she is not listed.

Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman is a lifelong St. Paul resident, attorney and former city council member. He has served as mayor since 2005 and is running for his third term. Born and raised in St. Paul, he earned his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Minnesota. He worked for a decade as a public defender and prosecutor before going into private practice. Active as a neighborhood leader and activist, including president of a local district council, he won election to the City Council to represent Ward 2. He took office as mayor in 2006.

Why are you running for a third term as mayor?

“Seven years ago, I was honored to become the mayor of my hometown. When I started, my daughter, Molly, was 14 and my son, Aidan, was 11. Now they are both off at college. But these last seven years weren’t simply a passage of time. They have been an incredible period of change in our city.

“Light rail, after three decades of discussion, is now more than 96 percent complete. Downtown will soon see a Lund’s grocery store sell its first bag of groceries. Once-dormant parcels at the Schmidt and Hamm’s breweries are now filled with activity as new housing and new businesses rise out of the remnants of those facilities. And, while the story of St. Paul as a brewery town has taken a new direction, it is still strong with Summit Brewery expanding, Flat Earth looking at a new home on the East Side, tap rooms poised to spring up across the city and microbreweries filling the void of the large brew-house departures.

“Over the last several years, new partnerships have been forged in economic development, regional cooperation, environmental initiatives and education. We know that we are stronger when we act together. The momentum that has been built over these last several years must be sustained. That’s why I’m seeking a third term as mayor.”

What is the biggest challenge facing the city of St. Paul and if re-elected, what would you do to overcome that challenge?

“The most important long-term challenge facing St. Paul is closing the achievement gap. One of our top goals must be to work with the school district to become a national model of how to close the persistence of an achievement gap between white students and students of color. Every child, whether born in St. Paul or brought here from another part of the country or the world, must have the same opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

“I have consistently advocated for city government and leaders to take an active role in supporting education. The work that we have done in St. Paul to build a seamless network of out-of-school-time programs is nationally recognized, enabling children to continue learning after the school doors are closed for the day, the weekend or the summer. I have developed a strong working relationship with the school district, so we have been able to integrate our efforts and establish a network of programs that transform education.

“We have also partnered with local businesses to engage students in developing vital workplace skills before graduation as a part of a new initiative called ‘Right Track.’ Through this new partnership between the City of St. Paul’s Youth Job Corps, the school district, Genesys Works and our local business community, students receive valuable career-readiness training and coaching. Participants are eligible for a full summer of career preparation and college-readiness training and will be afforded the opportunity to partake in a year-long paid internship at one of many local companies.

“Education is my job strategy, my economic strategy and my public safety strategy.”

Kurt Dornfeld

Kurt Dornfeld’s campaign tag is “I don’t walk their walk or talk their talk.” Dornfeld, who goes by the moniker “Dirty Kurty,” is a street-maintenance worker for the City of St. Paul. He was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul and is a 1977 graduate of Harding High School. Dornfeld says he’s neither a Democrat nor a Republican and has voted for candidates from both parties in the past.

Why are you running for mayor?

“I am sick of the way politicians are spending our money. Every time they need something, they just give us a tax or a fee.

“Here we are building a stadium and our streets are the crummiest they’ve been for as long as I can remember. Instead of sticking money into the stadium they should have put it into the streets. I am out on the streets all the time and some of the streets are so horrible, another bad winter like last winter and we’re really going to be bumming.”

What is the biggest challenge facing the city of St. Paul and if elected, what would you do to overcome that challenge?

“We need to figure out a way to get businesses into downtown because it’s pretty empty down there. We need to help small businesses and keep business in St. Paul. We have a lot of empty real estate. They built a train that probably won’t ever get the money to pay the engineer let alone the cost of it and they don’t have a snow plan for that street right now. Right now we put the snow on the tracks. As soon as [the trains] start running, where are we going to put the snow? The street’s right on top of the sidewalk. Where are we going to put the snow?

“We need to quit spending so much money and get back to basics, make sure we have a good police department. [With the Saints baseball stadium being built downtown], they are running into more and more problems with that. What are you going to do with the farmers market and the people who live down there? You want people to live down there, but you take away their parking spots.

“I’m not sure that I’m the best politician in the world, but every job I’ve done I’ve gotten really good at it. I make sure I have successful people working with me.”

Tim Holden

Tim Holden has lived in West St. Paul and St. Paul almost all of his life. He graduated from St. Thomas Academy and St. Cloud State University, earning a degree in criminal justice. Holden has worked with special task forces for both the St. Paul and Newport police. He is a licensed realtor and general contractor and has run his own contracting company for more than 20 years.

Why are you running for mayor?

“I am running for mayor to work for all the citizens of St. Paul. Too often the mayor’s pet projects are funded at the expense of our recreation centers, businesses and citizens. The light-rail work on University Avenue persuaded me that someone had to speak for the rest of us. My colleagues and friends convinced me I was that person.”

What is the biggest challenge facing the city of St. Paul and if elected, what would you do to overcome that challenge?

“I would listen carefully to the people and visitors to our city, work together to work within our budget to keep our streets maintained, bring in livable-wage jobs, and work with neighborhoods and communities to ensure educational excellence.”

St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education

The St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education has three seats open in the 2013 election and five candidates are running. Meet the candidates below.

John Brodrick

John Brodrick says he’s a product of St. Paul Public Schools along with his two daughters, who graduated from Como Park Senior High School, where Brodrick worked as a teacher and coach before retiring. He worked in St. Paul schools for 34 years and has served on the district’s school board for three terms.

What is the biggest challenge in the St. Paul schools and what would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“The biggest problem facing the St. Paul Public Schools is the achievement gap in its many iterations. To close these gaps, I am working to ensure that every school is a welcoming place, where students feel safe and can learn, teachers can teach and parents feel comfortable. As a board member I have consistently supported these principles and will continue to do so. The details may shift from school to school, but these guiding premises are a consistent pathway to success.”

Terrance Bushard

Terrance Bushard has lived his whole life, 64 years, in the Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul. He graduated from Cretin High School in 1967, and the University of Minnesota with a degree in business in 1979. He worked in the printing business.

What is the biggest challenge in the St. Paul schools and what would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“I filed for school board to advocate for changes in the curriculum being taught to high school seniors. The main change I would make is in the area of instruction about the political process.

“Here is what our seniors need to know about the political process: that politics is, among other things, an ongoing process through which financial advantages and disadvantages are distributed throughout society. They need to know that politicians have distributed some serious financial disadvantages to them in the form of their share of the national debt, currently at $53,478 per student, and in the form of the ‘unfunded federal entitlement liabilities.’

“They need to know that these financial disadvantages are real and they are going to have a depressing influence on their financial futures. And they need to know that the only reason politicians don’t have to explain to them why they should be happy to accept these financial disadvantages is because they are not organized for the purpose of insisting they do so.

“If elected to the school board, I will develop, at little or no cost, a 10-hour course for seniors which I am currently calling, ‘The Importance of Financially Accountable Politics,’ and I can have the course ready for this year’s senior class.

“I believe that if seniors are taught why they might want to organize for the purpose of directly questioning elected officials, especially U.S. senators and representatives, about the financial disadvantages they are distributing to our youth, they just might do it. At least they’ll know they have a choice.

“A course like this could easily be incorporated into a current events or civics course.”

Greg Copeland

Greg Copeland has lived in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood since 1992. A widower since 2008, Copeland was his wife’s caregiver for 16 years after she became disabled due to a 1992 auto accident. He worked as city manager for the City of Maplewood and as a public administration consultant. Copeland has a cable TV show on SPNN, “The Greg Copeland Show.”

What is the biggest challenge in the St. Paul schools and what would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“Boost the high school graduation rate. In 2011, only 64 percent of our St. Paul Public School [seniors] obtained a high school diploma. A failure rate of 36 percent is unacceptable.

“Our community can no longer afford to continue with a status quo public school system, which has for well over 20 years discussed and studied the achievement gap. Two decades of school boards have spent untold millions on consultants, air and hotel travel to send its administrators to costly seminars and conferences, recruited new superintendents to convince voters to raise their property taxes in several referendums, and now our St. Paul achievement gap is a national embarrassment.

“In 2013, 44 percent of St. Paul students taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Achievement test were proficient in math, a 3 percent gain from 2010. In science, proficiency was 27 percent in 2013, a 1 percent decline since 2010. In St. Paul, reading proficiency was at only 37 percent for our students on the new 2013 MCA reading test, which is 20 points below the 58 percent of students reading proficiently in Minnesota across all districts.

“The current school board has embarked on a new answer to this achievement gap: Race Equity training for employees of the school district. The board has already spent $1.2 million on this program run by a California-based consultant.

“The No. 1 priority of our schools should be to spend our money on direct student instruction. I am committed to making institutional change. I will listen to those who are not represented on the board, especially people in the two East Side wards, 6 and 7, and the West Side. There is not one resident from these areas, which make up a third of the city, on the school board.

“In St. Paul, where over 22 percent of our citizens are low-income, the issues of poverty must be addressed in the education system if we are to be a sustainable city.”

Jean O’Connell

Jean O’Connell grew up in St. Paul, attended St. Mark and St. Luke grade schools, Our Lady of Peace High School, and graduated from Central High School. She started her career with 3M as an engineer. After years working in manufacturing and quality management, she joined the 3M Foundation and worked with the St. Paul Public Schools, where she volunteered as a tutor, science “visiting wizard,” quality coach to a number of principals and teachers, and as a Girl Scout leader. She has two grown daughters and two grandchildren. She and her husband, John, live in the Como Park neighborhood. She is seeking a second term on the school board.

What is the biggest challenge in the St. Paul schools and what would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“The persistent and predictable gap in achievement between white students and students of color. While many students are achieving a high level of academic success, we must ensure that all students have that same opportunity.

“St. Paul Public Schools is addressing the achievement gap in many ways to meet the differing needs of our students, families and communities. We are providing support and learning opportunities for parents, including Parent Academy, a seven-week program offered free to parents and guardians of our students. Partnering with our community to provide social services in our school buildings is another critical effort. Providing consistent, quality curriculum and instruction and the resources to deliver learning in every school in every neighborhood is key.

“We are providing Racial Equity training to all staff, including all school board members, and are working with each employee to help us identify the underlying causes of racial inequity. Together we can work to change our systems so that all children have an opportunity for greater success. This is not about taking things away from one group of students and giving it to another; it is about rapidly leveling the playing field for all. To be successful in removing racial disparities from St. Paul, we will need help from our entire community.

“School board members must support this important work. The Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan provides a roadmap to significant improvement. We need the entire community—parents, teachers, community and business leaders, city and county officials—to work together to address issues around the racial disparities in St. Paul. I have consistently shown that I can bring people together from our city’s diverse communities to address problems together.”

Chue Vue

Chue Vue lives in St. Paul’s eastside, is married and has five children, three of whom attend St. Paul public schools. Vue is an attorney who has worked in the Frogtown neighborhood for the last six years. Prior to that, he was a research chemist for the U.S. government for 11 years. Vue has volunteered for organizations such as Upward Bound, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Hmong American Bar Association, Lao-Hmong American Veterans Coalition and Hmong American Partnership, among others. He came to the United States at the age of 10, after his family was forced to flee their home in Laos.

What is the biggest challenge in the St. Paul schools and what would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“The biggest challenge we face is closing the achievement gap in our district. Certain groups in our community are falling behind academically generation after generation. These are typically the poor, single-parent and minority students. Minnesota has consistently ranked nationally near the top academically but has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. This is inexcusable and we need to work to narrow or eliminate this gap. We know what works, such as early childhood education, high expectations for all students, or extended hours for those who need the extra help.

“I plan to be a voice for the parents, communities of color and recent immigrants by listening to their concerns and needs. Everyone needs to be involved for us to be successful in our quest—parents, teachers, administrators, the school board, and city, county, state and federal officials. I plan to work hard with all players and stakeholders to find solutions and implement action plans.

“My involvement with different community groups has taught me that we all win if we stop pointing fingers and start working together. St. Paul schools have made great strides, but sometimes there is the perception that the district is not responsive to the community. I can help change that.”

Roseville Area Schools

Voters in the Roseville Area School District will cast ballots on a proposed school levy to replace the one that will expire in June 2014. The proposed levy would generate $1,575 per student in operating funds each year and expire in 2022. The district says that if passed, the new levy would not increase current tax levels on homes in the district through 2015, and then taxes would increase with the rate of inflation.

A public hearing on the proposed levy will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Roseville Area High School auditorium, 1240 W. County Road B2, Roseville.

Voters will also cast ballots for three of the four candidates running to fill three four-year terms on the Roseville Area Schools School Board. The League of Women Voters will host a candidate forum at the Roseville City Council chambers, 2660 Civic Center Drive, on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.

Meet the candidates below.

Mike Boguszewski

Mike Boguszewski and his wife moved to Roseville from the Chicago area in 1991. They were expecting their first child at the time and chose to live in Roseville because it was in the ISD 623 School District, Boguszewski said. Their real estate agent had given them the rankings of all Twin Cities school districts and Roseville Area Schools was in the top tier.

Boguszewski is director of strategy and growth for Park Nicollet Health Services. Boguszewski is a member of the Roseville Planning Commission and Variance Board. He also works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota, recently moving from the organization’s Long Range Planning Committee to the Program Committee. He is a member of the District 623 Involvement and Communication Advisory Council, which provides advice, recommendations and ideas around district communications.

For the last 10 years, he’s been active in the East Metro Integration District Site Council and Families Organization. In 2013, he testified at the Minnesota State Legislature on the integration model in place at East Metro and helped to support the move of Harambee Elementary Community Cultures and Environmental Science School into District 623.

What is the biggest challenge in the Roseville schools today?

“There are several things we need to address. First, funding. I—as do, I believe, the other candidates—support the levy referendum that will be on the ballot. It’s about 15 percent of the annual budget, which if lost would result in a need for possibly irreparable cuts to the district.

“Second, changing demographics and the ‘achievement gap.’ So-called minority students make up nearly half of the district kids, up from less than 10 percent when we moved here. The challenge lies in addressing the needs of these kids in a way that eliminates the predictability of failure or success tied to ethnicity, while ensuring that we don’t leave the broader population of families feeling that their needs are being set aside.

“Third, excellence. There is no more important factor in the success of a community than the quality of its schools, period. It’s why most families on the move choose a city; it’s why families stay. Roseville schools must get back to that top tier, if we are to make good on our special role for the towns we serve.”

What would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“I am committed to ensuring that district funds are spent wisely and focused on overcoming these challenges. Dollars concentrated in the classroom, and in initiatives that foster and incent family engagement in the education of their children, are top priority. I will push to learn all we can from our newest member, Harambee, and the methods and culture of inclusion of all students that it brings from its successful history as an integrated school. And I will listen to you, to parents and families, to teachers and staff, to the broader community. I will strongly support measures that enable more meaningful participation and dialogue between the board and those who depend on us as stewards of their children’s education.”

Kitty Gogins

Kitty Gogins and her husband both attended Roseville schools, graduating from high school in 1976. Their children also graduated from Roseville Area Schools, in 2005 and 2009.

Gogins has served on the school board for eight years, including as board chair several times. She has served on several districtwide committees and represents the district on the East Metro Integration School Board. Prior to joining the board, she was active in the PTA and volunteered in the schools for 14 years.

Gogins is a consultant with businesses, nonprofits and government entities. Previously, she worked for Pillsbury, General Mills and CHS in leadership positions in research and development, sales, operations and marketing. She has also served as the executive director of an independent board overseeing employment-training programs in Ramsey County.

What is the biggest challenge in the Roseville schools today?

“While Roseville Area Schools provide a solid educational foundation for our youth—our high school is ranked in the top 5 percent of high schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report—there is room for improvement. I believe the most important challenge is to raise the achievement of all of our students while closing the achievement gap and doing this in a fiscally responsible manner. Our student body continues to grow more diverse in many dimensions—ability level, learning style, race, ethnic background, family life style, religion, home language—and we need to make sure each student is held to high standards and provided the education needed for their success in the global marketplace.”

What would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“I have and will continue to champion raising achievement of all students while closing the achievement gap. I have a track record of supporting policies and programs that build a respectful, equitable, learning environment; provide individualized, personally relevant instruction; offer classes and learning opportunities at the level appropriate for each student; and remove institutionalized barriers to student success. One such program I have supported is Reading Recovery that provides intensive, one-on-one daily reading instruction for 12 weeks to first-graders in the bottom 20 percent of reading skills. At the end of this period, 80 percent of the students’ reading skills rise to grade level.

“Another example is better preparing students for Advanced Placement classes in high school and offering a broader selection of such classes.

“I have worked hard to strengthen achievement in a fiscally responsible manner. I have always voted for budgets focused on achievement and a property levy below the amount allowed by law. During my eight years on the board, this has added up to $10.5 million in lower taxes.”

Frank Shaw

Frank Shaw moved to Roseville with his wife and three children in 1993. His children attended Brimhall Elementary School, and two attended Roseville Area Middle School and graduated from Roseville Area High School. Shaw has taught mathematics at Hamline University since 1996.

Shaw served on the ISD 623 School Board from 2007 to 2009 (and was chair in 2008), but did not run for consecutive terms so he could work with Hamline students in England in 2010-11. Along with his time on the school board, he has served on several district committees both before and during his board tenure. That work included evaluating mathematics curricula at the high school and elementary school levels. He was also the board’s representative in the teachers’ union negotiations in 2009.

While his children were in school, he volunteered at the schools they attended, and after leaving the board, worked exclusively with struggling students, which he says gave him a deeper insight into the problems teachers and students face every day.

What is the biggest challenge in the Roseville schools today?

“The demographic shift taking place in our community. When our family moved to Roseville, the schools were pretty homogeneous, white and middle class. That’s no longer true (this has been a big challenge for a while, actually), and, in fact, we are nearing the point where white students are a minority in our schools. Many of our veteran teachers came into a very different role than they are now performing, one with different opportunities and different pitfalls. The smooth adjustment to current conditions has been and will continue to be a huge challenge, requiring teachers and administrators to relearn their craft continuously.”

What would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge?

“There is no easy answer to this question and no complete answer. The board can support the district’s efforts in several ways. I would continue to encourage equity training for everyone and professional developmental work for everyone directly involved in our children’s education. I would continue to adjust our policies to be inclusive and protective of the rights and needs of everyone who participates in the work of the district. I would lobby the Legislature for the proper level of funding and for reason in legislative mandates, given the needs of the community we serve.

“Diversity in our schools has made them more vibrant than they were in the past; this has not happened passively, though, and continued effort will be needed for us to continue to take advantage of this trend.”

Mark Traynor

Mark Traynor is married and has two children who are attending Roseville Area Middle School and Roseville Area High School. The family has lived in Roseville for 13 years and are members of Roseville Lutheran Church. Traynor has a law degree and master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota. He is senior vice president and general counsel for a health care organization.

His past civic efforts include serving as chair of the Roseville Area Schools Foundation Board, chair of the Roseville Planning Commission, member of the Brimhall Elementary PTA Executive Committee, ISD 623 Educational Planning Advisory Committee II and Imagine Roseville 2025 Steering Committee, and as a youth sports coach.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in the Roseville schools today? “The most significant challenge facing Roseville Area Schools is ensuring all students are reaching their learning potential in an environment of changing student and family demographics and limited resources. The achievement gap between students of color and other students is a particularly vexing challenge, but we also must work to engage students at all learning levels to help them achieve.” What would you do as a board member to help the district overcome that challenge? “First, with respect to my leadership style, I am a collaborative, problem-solving leader who would work productively with other board members, district and school staff, parents, and the larger community to listen, gather data and foster the development of solutions that reflect our community’s best thinking and values. “Second, to help close the achievement gap, I would support the district’s efforts to try different ways to reach challenged students, measuring the effectiveness of initiatives to determine which programs to expand and which to stop doing. I also would support teachers and district leaders in enriching their understanding of racial and cultural differences and provide opportunities to strengthen their relationships with students and their families. “Third, in working to engage students at all achievement levels, I would focus on initiatives that encourage individualized learning and instruction. Learning technology could be an important tool, when applied with teacher training and aligned curriculum, to reach students in a more individualized way, and I would support the district to move toward being a ‘fast follower’ in the effective use of learning technology.”

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