Primary Elections 2022: Minneapolis School Board (District 5)

Confusingly, all the school boards have district numbers (Minneapolis is District 1) but also Minneapolis is split into 6 geographical areas for Park Board and School District seats. This seat is on some ballots in South Minneapolis but not others. This was made extra confusing by redistricting — if you’re uncertain, you can view your sample ballot on the Secretary of State’s site by putting in your zip code and address. This seat is currently held by Nelson Inz, who is not running for re-election.

There are four people on the ballot:

Laurelle Myhra
Leslie Haugland-Smith
Elena Condos
Lori Norvell

Laurelle Myhra

Laurelle Myhra is an Anishinabe woman who directs a wellness clinic; she’s a licensed family therapist and one of her top priorities is “culturally-relevant and trauma-informed education and curriculum.” She is vice chair of the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee.

One hesitation I had about her is that she describes herself as Christian on her first page, and that can be a red flag for anti-trans bigotry specifically. I e-mailed her to ask, and she responded to say, “I do not personally support discrimination of LGBT or any other marginalized group. In fact, I’m seeking endorsement by a LGBT advocacy group.” Which reassured me a bit about her intentions if not her specific expertise there. But — she would bring a lot of expertise about the needs and traumas of Indigenous kids (and expertise about trauma-informed education generally, which I think would be genuinely useful right now.)

Leslie Haugland-Smith

Leslie Haugland-Smith wrote a letter to the editor about the schools that was published in the Star Tribune in June. I can find nothing else about her: she doesn’t seem to be on either Facebook or LinkedIn. Definitely falls into the category of “not actually running.” EDITED TO ADD: the coworker of one of her kids saw this post and sent me a link to her website, so I’ve added the link! She wants to increase enrollment, lobby the legislature for more money, and ensure that students graduate “with a sense of responsibility and purpose.”

Elena Condos

Elena Condos listed her LinkedIn page as her campaign site when she filled out her affidavit of candidacy, and when I started researching this, that’s the only page I could find. (I have complained a few times about people using their personal Facebook as their only campaign conduit so let me just say — LinkedIn is so much worse.) From this I could see that she really liked hashtags (#powerwoman #changemaker) but not much else.

She’s now got a website up, where she has an acronym to tell you what’s important to her (“TISA: Transparency, Innovation, Security, Achievement.”) She goes on to elaborate on those slightly — for example, “Security enhanced learning: Adapting our schools and staff to engage with problems before they become a police event.” That could be either very good or very bad and without more information on what she even means here, it’s hard to say. She has a management background and says, “I have over 20 years of experience in organizational management from partnering to create a strategic vision to day-to-day people and operation leadership.” My response to everything in that statement: no thank you.

Lori Norvell

Lori Norvell is the endorsed DFL candidate. She’s a parent and also worked for the Minneapolis Public schools for almost ten years as a sub, a special education assistant, and a teacher. According to her LinkedIn, she quit last year and now works as an Executive Assistant for the Hennepin Theater Trust, which makes me think she’d probably have some insight into burnout, retention, and teacher support. Her priorities look solid and she has a ton of endorsements.

So — okay, I’m going to note that on August 9th, we’re having a primary. The two top finishers will go on to the general election in November. I would vote for Laurelle Myhra in the primary election while acknowledging that I would probably vote for Lori in the general. I am confident that Lori will advance to the general so the question is, who among the other candidates will bring issues to the table that I’d like to hear discussed before November? And the answer is absolutely Laurelle, with her expertise in trauma. Absolutely. So that’s who I’d vote for in August.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven. You will also be able to get them from Uncle Hugo’s when it reopens at 2716 E 31st St! (and maybe by mail order now? I’m not sure how much mail order Don is doing while getting ready to re-open.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active. (Also, I owe some embarrassing readings of my juvenalia to the Internet.)

I also went looking and found two DonorsChoose fundraisers for classrooms at Bethune Community School in North Minneapolis: math manipulatives for pre-K students (this is such a good idea) and a nice book organizer for a first-grade classroom where the shelving is coming apart.


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