Three members of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board are up for reelection in 2011, and challengers have filed to run in two of those seats. The school district has seen a contentious last two years, including a major push to revampa policy that limits discussions of LGBT issues in schools, which was followed by another lawsuit filed by students alleging an unsafe school environment. Most candidates say, however, that the LGBT controversy is only part of their decision to run.
Minnesota Public Radio caught up with Mary Nelson, who is running against Marci Anderson for District 2 in western Blaine and southern Coon Rapids. On the controversy, Nelson said, “It seems to me that there’s something that’s not working there, and I believe I could help make changes to bring respect back to the school district.”
Nelson stopped short of saying whether or not she supports the “neutrality policy,” which limits discussions of LGBT issues. She said recent suicides and lawsuits prompted her to run.
Anderson, the incumbent, supports the policy but said she was open to dialogue.
“We really do seem to be a community divided,” Anderson told MPR. “We need to take in all the information and listen to everyone, because we represent everyone. I’m so committed to seeing this out.”
Another candidate, Randy Kolb, didn’t respond to MPR’s repeated requests for comment.
Tom Heideman, the school board chair, supports the policy. He’s being challenged by Darin Rorman, who hasn’t taken a position on the policy. Heideman represents District 1, which encompasses Anoka and Ramsey.
Scott Wenzel, who represents District 5, which includes Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Fridley and part of Coon Rapids, has opposed the neutrality policy. He is running unopposed.
The school board election is on Nov. 8.