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Leadership contest pending for school board

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Politics and government Updated: December 11, 2013 - 11:37 AM

There's a leadership contest brewing for chair of the Minneapolis school board now that Tracine Asberry and Richard Mammen have announced they'll seek the post.

Current Chair Alberto Monserrate said he'll not seek a third year as chair.

Asberry, a former teacher, is completing her first year on the board. Monserrate was elected chair in his second year on the board, but that was after serving as vice chair and coming in with a crop of four new board members. She has been outspoken in advocating for more changes in district policies to promote better racial equity

Mammen is completing his third year on the board, and was elected city-wide, while Asberry was elected from a southwest Minneapolis district.  Mammen is a longtime youth worker who lists himself as co-president of a nonprofit called Change Inc.

The initial betting is on Mammen, who claims he has the votes, to prevail.  He's a lifelong Minneapolitan with wide contacts in the government and nonprofit sectors. Asberry has been a teacher in Minneapolis, an adjunct college instructorm and holds a doctorate in pedagogy.

Mammen declared his intent to become chair when he was elected in 2010, and had spoken with seven board members before publicly declaring his candidacy on Tuesday. Asberry's announcement surprised her coleagues.

The job of chair involves helping to shape its announal calendar and monthly agendas, chairing board meetings (a task that limits participation in substantive debates), and representing the board in public and in responding to correspondence addressed to all board members.  As the owner of a media company, he's also been responsive to news reporters. Asberry hasn't returned reporter calls.

In the only other contested post, Rebecca Gagnon is seeking a second year as treasurer, while Carla Bates, whom Gagnon defeated for the job a year ago, also is seeking it. 

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