The field is set for November school board races

Two suburban districts each have one dozen candidates competing for just a few seats.

A "vote here" sign outside of a polling place in St. Paul, Minn., in November 2021. (Shutterstock)

The field of candidates is now set for the 28 school districts across Minnesota that will hold “off-year” elections this November, where there are no legislative seats or congressional or statewide offices on the ballot.

While most of the nearly 300 other school districts across the state hold their elections during more visible campaign cycles (such as 2024), the school district communities with races this fall represent about 1.7 million residents across the state. Combined, those districts with seats up for election steward well over $4 billion in tax dollars.

Fifteen of those 28 districts represent more than half of the most populous districts in the state, according to state demography reports. Some say that’s not a coincidence, as it is politically advantageous for high-profile school districts to hold elections in “odd” or “off-cycle” years where voter turnout is historically low and fewer voters are interested in becoming engaged when only one or two races are on the ballot.

While some districts — such as Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan and South Washington County — have as many as one dozen candidates seeking four and three seats, respectively, other districts like Edina had just three candidates file for three open seats. That means Edina Public Schools is set to pay $150,000 to run a school board election this fall with candidates who are essentially running unopposed. But Edina is not the norm. There are several school board races that are expected to be tight and will feature candidates with competing visions and influential endorsements.

Here are 12 high-profile school board races Alpha News will be reporting on in the coming weeks. You can find candidates for all 28 school board races on the Minnesota Secretary of State candidate filing website.

  1. Anoka-Hennepin (ISD 11) has 3 seats up for election, represents 248,441 residents

Three geographic-based district seats are up for election. The local teachers union for the school district has backed two candidates (it had backed a third, who ended up not filing). A local parents group, Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance, has been promoting three candidates it has endorsed.


District 1: Incumbent Erin Heers-McArdle is being challenged by Linda Hoekman. Heers-McArdle has already been endorsed by the Anoka-Hennepin chapter of Education Minnesota, the teachers union. Hoekman has already been endorsed by the Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance.

District 2: Board member Marci Anderson has chosen not to seek re-election. Two challengers for the open seat in this race are Zach Arco and Susan Witt. Arco has already been endorsed by Anoka Hennepin Parents Alliance. Witt filed on the last day of the filing period. She is a retired teacher from Spring Lake Park and lost two consecutive elections in 2014 and 2016 as a DFL-endorsed candidate in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Her 2016 loss to Rep. Nolan West, R-Blaine, was by just 168 votes.

District 5: Board member Nicole Hayed has chosen not to seek re-election. Three challengers will be vying for this open seat. They include: Michelle LangenfieldScott Simmons and Cyrus Wilson. Langenfield has already been endorsed by Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota. Simmons has already been endorsed by Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance.


Kimball Newton had already been endorsed as the District 2 candidate preferred by Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota in social media posts this summer, but is not listed among candidates who filed for office.

  1. Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan (ISD 196) 4 seats, represents 163,513 residents


This is one of the largest fields of candidates for any election taking place this fall. Twelve individuals filed for four at-large seats on the board from one of the largest districts in Minnesota. Incumbents seeking re-election include: Cory Johnson, Sachin Isaacs and Jackie Magnuson. Challengers include: Craig Angrimson, Kim Bauer, Melissa Field, Leah Gardner, Charles McCready, Theresa Schlueter, Gina Swaney, Lori Urkiel and Anna Williams. Angrimson previously served on the school board.


Longtime school board member Joel Albright is not seeking re-election after serving nearly 20 years.

  1. South Washington County (ISD 833) 3 seats, 113,887


Incumbents Melinda Dols and Simi Pitnaik and 10 challengers are vying for three at-large seats in this east metro school district home to Woodbury, East Ridge and Park high schools. The challengers include: Chad Borseth, Ryan Clarke, Priscilla Kathryn Dimbo, Randall Johnson, Jaime KoKaisel, Anthony Marmood, Satonia Moore and Molly Schaefer.


Incumbent Louise Hinz was a teacher in South Washington County for more than 20 years, and then ran for the school board (and won) when she retired in 2019. She is not seeking re-election.

  1. Hastings (ISD 200) 4 seats, 31,366


Nine candidates are seeking four open seats. None of them are current board members. They are: Phillip Biermaier, Nancy Blanchard, Matt Bruns, Melissa Millner, Pamela J. OnnenMariah RingMatt Seeger, Brandy Wentzler and Jenny Wiederholt-Pine. Wentzler, Ring, Bruns and Seeger are all endorsed by a new locally-based organization calling itself “200 Strong.”

“200 Strong” was launched earlier this year in what its founder told local media was a response to a slate of “conservative” candidates who won election on the Hastings School Board. The organization debuted its website on July 30 promoting that slate of candidates. It’s not known if 200 Strong has any connections to political parties or Education Minnesota.


All four Hastings School Board members with terms expiring — Becky Beissel, Lisa Hedin, Stephanie Malm and Brian Davis — are not seeking re-election.

  1. Bloomington (ISD 271) 3 seats, 87,775


Six candidates filed to run for three at-large seats on the Bloomington School Board. They include: Sandra JohnsonNelly KormanRicardo OlivaMia OlsonLanga Oriho and Heather Starks.

Korman, Olson and Starks are all running for re-election.

  1. Minnetonka (ISD 276) 4 seats,  41,871


Nine candidates are seeking four at-large seats on the Minnetonka School Board. They include: Sally Browne, Kemerie Foss, Karen Jordan, Chris Kratoska, Dan OlsonMichael Remucal and Brandon L. Voges.

Remucal is an incumbent who won a special election last year over Voges. A local group calling itself “Minnetonka Progressives” had previously endorsed Remucal and Olson.


Board members Mark Ambrosen, Katie Becker and Lisa Wagner all have expiring terms and are not seeking re-election.

  1. Wayzata (ISD 284) 4 seats, 71,701


Paras Bhende, Valentina Eyres, Dan GinestraSheila Prior, Alex Rudich and Mariam T. Siddiqui are running for four at-large seats. Prior is the only incumbent seeking re-election of four current board members with expiring terms.


Longtime Wayzata School Board member Linda Cohen, a former University of Minnesota regent, has chosen not to seek a seventh term. Bonita Lucky and Cheryl Polzin are also not seeking re-election.

  1. Mounds View (ISD 621) 4 seats, 77,663


Eleven candidates are running for four open seats in the Mounds View School District.

Incumbents Jonathan WeinhagenHeidi Danielson and Jim DeMay are seeking new terms. Challengers include: Heidi Caccamo, Alissa Daire Nelson, Mark KelliherAndre M. KoenArt MillsRich PrioreJon VanOeveren and Paul Wikstrom.


Current school board member Sandra Westerman is not seeking re-election. Her term expires at the end of this year.

  1. Duluth (ISD 709) 3 seats, 94,497


Four candidates ran in an Aug. 8 primary for the District 3 seat on the Duluth School Board: Henry L. Banks, Valerie Joeckel, Loren Martell and Matthew Moses. The two top vote getters were Martell and Banks. They will face off in the general election.

Just two candidates filed for an at-large seat on the board. They are Alanna Oswald and Stephanie Williams.

A District 2 seat is open, but Sarah Mikesell is the only candidate who filed.

  1. Hopkins (ISD 270) 4 seats, 66,448


Five candidates are running for four at-large seats on the Hopkins Area School Board. They are: incumbents Steven Adams and Shannon Andreson and challengers Brooke Ann RoperKaj Thompson and Zhiming Zhao.


Katie Pederson has an expiring term and is not seeking re-election.

  1. St. Paul (ISD 625) 4 seats, 303,176


Eight candidates have filed to run for four at-large seats on the St. Paul Public Schools Board. Incumbents Chauntyll Allen and Zuki Ellis are seeking a new term on the board. They are challenged by: Yusef CarrilloCarlo Franco, Abdi S. Omer, Erica Valliant and Gita Rijal Zeitler. Franco has been endorsed by DFL legislators Rep. Maria Isa Perez-Vega and Rep. Samakab Hussein.


Jessica Kopp and Jeanelle Foster have expiring terms and are not seeking re-election.

  1. Edina (ISD 273) 3 seats, 42,269


Cheryl Barry, Jennifer Huwe and Elliot Mann are the only three candidates who filed for three open seats. Barry ran a short-lived campaign for the Minnesota House of Representatives. She dropped out of the race after current Rep. Heather Edelson filed for election in 2018. Mann is the husband of Sen. Alice Mann, DFL-Edina.


Three incumbents, Julie Green, Janie Shaw and Regina Neville, all had expiring terms and are not seeking re-election. All three were previously endorsed by the Edina Public Schools chapter of Education Minnesota.

Editor’s note: candidates with hyperlinked campaign websites or social media pages above are those Alpha News was able to find via social media searches or on the candidate filing on the Minnesota Secretary of State candidate filing webpage. Not all candidates included a website in their filing information.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.