What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Competition heats up for DFL school nod

Posted by: Steve Brandt under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: February 17, 2014 - 2:56 PM

The competition for DFL endorsement for Minneapolis school board seats to be filled in November has accelerated in the past few weeks in the wake of two last-minute pre-caucus dropouts by incumbents not seeking reelection.

There’s now a four-way contest for endorsement in the District 5 seat in the Nokomis area for which Alberto Monserrate announced that he won’t seek another term.

Jay Larson, Nelson Inz, Luis Morales and Bridget Sullivan are seeking endorsement for the seat. Morales and Sullivan are the newest in the race. Both are lawyers. He works for the Metropolitan Council, and has the backing of Monserrate.  It’s the most competitive so far of three district seats that will be filled for the next four years. Inz is a charter school teacher and Larson a cemetery manager.

Meanwhile, the field of candidates for two city-wide board seats has grown to at least five people, with incumbent Richard Mammen not running.  They include incumbent Rebecca Gagnon, first-time candidates Iris Altamirano and Ira Jourdain, plus Doug Mann and Dick Velner, who have run previously without winning..  Another potential candidate, Andrew Minck, was close-mouthed when contacted by the Star Tribune. His online bio lists him as a finance and strategy fellow at Teach For America. The Star Tribune was unable to reach another potential candidate, Nicque Mabrey, who sought appointment last fall to the remainder of the term of the late Hussein Samatar, as did Jourdain..  

There’s also still the possibility of an election contest for the local seat in District 3, which Samatar held. That district lies between 35W and the Mississippi River, between Cedar Riverside and a line generally following E. 36th St. Siad Ali announced his candidacy more than a month ago, and Abdulkadir D. Abdalla said he’ll announce at the end of March. Rochester charter school director Abdalla said he’s not seeking DFL endorsement, but Ali, who works on the staff of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, said he is.

There’s been some talk that the number of city-wide candidates could prevent the city DFL convention from reaching one endorsement, much less two.  Gagnon ran in 2010 as a little-known candidate relatively new to the city, long on shoe leather and short on money, but was able to win without endorsement.  The only city-wide endorsee that year, Richard Mammen, isn’t running again.

A Minck candidacy would raise the possibility of another high-spending race, if the interests who style themselves reformers jump in financially as they did to help elect Josh Reimnitz in 2012. Reimnitz, a TFA alum, drew a record amount of money for a school race, especially considering that he was running in District 4 rather than the whole city.  His opponent, Patty Wycoff, drew substantial union financial backing.

In the East Side’s District 1, incumbent Jenny Arneson is still without a challenger.

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