Thirteen women and men are vying to fill the one year remaining in one of the seven seats on the Moorhead School Board. They are, in the order in which they filed, Kara Gloe, David Marquardt, Keith Vogt, David J. Hallman, Tanya Kunza, Angie Dannewitz-Johnson, David Thingvold, Elijah J. Dee Sr., Ruel C. Johnson, Amy Arel, Lisa Holter, Brian Mancini and Lisa Hage.
They are running to complete the term of Laurie Johnson, who resigned her position in late 2016. Cindy Fagerlie, who is not running, was appointed to fill the seat until the election. The winning candidate will serve the final year of the four-year term through the first Monday of January 2017.
The Extra invited candidates to submit answers to several questions, including, their qualifications and the school issues in which they are particularly interested. Four candidates responded to our request.
Kara, an assistant Fargo city planner, has lived in Moorhead five years. She has a 6-year-old daughter in first grade in the Spanish immersion program and a 4-year-old waiting to begin kindergarten next year.
She says, “I have direct experience bringing together large groups of stakeholders from a wide variety of organizations to tackle tough issues. My background in communications would be valuable in helping Moorhead Public Schools tell its own story.”
Kara focuses on supporting students, teachers and families. She cites her work raising funds for milk and snack breaks for students in kindergarten and elementary students through last year’s PB&J School Lunch Fundraiser. “It’s a small example, but I’m dedicated to rolling up my sleeves with others and forging public/private partnerships to support literacy programs, technical education and more counseling services.”
She notes the need to insure teachers have the resources they need to focus on students, including counselors, paraprofessionals and social workers. She also supports collaboration with the city, county and state, as well as local churches and nonprofits, to help address the needs that students’ families are facing. “Schools cannot and should not try to do it alone, but we are an important partner, and we need to do our part,” she says. “Ask any teacher: When families do better, students do better.”
Lisa Holter, who has lived in Moorhead for three years, is an assistant professor and program director of graduate counseling at the University of Mary’s Fargo campus. She has two children – a second grader in the Spanish Immersion program and another looking forward to kindergarten next year.
She says that her qualifications include ten years as a mental health professional serving children and families. She has also worked in an educational setting for three years, bringing a “problem-solving, growth-minded perspective.”
Her concerns include “creating well-rounded education plan for students, including community collaboration and facility design.”
Tanya Kuna has lived in Moorhead since 1996, when she moved here to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead and, she says, “loved it here.” She has four sons – an 11-year-old in fifth grade at Horizon West, an 8-year-old in second grade at Ellen Hopkins, and 5- and 3-year-olds at home.
“My educational background qualifies me to serve,” she says. She graduated in 2006 with a master’s degree in public administration. She adds, “I’m a dedicated Moorhead resident who lives, works and does 98 percent of her shopping within Moorhead.”
Her focus, she says, includes the future of the high school, eliminating unnecessary waste and using population forecast data to plan for school space and teachers. “I have some concerns over the future and space of our high school,” she says. “Some of the classes coming up are the largest that the district has seen. Planning and preparation are the keys to success.”
She notes that living near Ellen Hopkins, she observed “perfectly good child-sized chairs and desks” being thrown in the dumpster during last summer’s renovations: “I believe we need to look at the wastefulness and see if there is a way we could better use the resources we have.”
Elijah J. Dee, Sr.
Elijah Dee has lived in Moorhead for one year. He has two children in the school system. A social worker by profession, he’s currently a custodian at Horizon School.
Elijah lists qualifications for the post: reliability, organized and self-motivated, qualities developed as a leader and team player in various capacities. He is particularly concerned about security at all the schools, with gun alarms at all entrances. He also supports increased employee benefits.
Voting takes place Tuesday, Nov. 7, at five locations in Moorhead and Dilworth. Voters can also request an absentee ballot even if they are not registered to vote — a voter registration application will be provided with their ballot. Only the voter (not a friend or family member) may pick up or complete an absentee ballot.
To vote by absentee ballot, district residents must complete and return an application for an absentee ballot to the Election Clerk at Moorhead Area Public Schools, 2410 14th St. S., Moorhead, MN 56560. Absentee ballot applications are available at Probstfield Education Center or on the Minnesota secretary of state website, www.sos.state.mn.us/media/2444/english-regular-absentee-ballot-application.pdf.
Voters may mark and return their absentee ballots in person or by mail. Completed ballots returned by mail must be received by Election Day.