The St. Paul school board welcomed a new member and a new chairwoman Tuesday.
Chue Vue, an attorney who was the board’s top vote-getter in the November general election, was sworn into office before the board’s annual meeting Tuesday — its first public session of the year.
Mary Doran, the board’s vice chair in 2013, then was elected chairwoman over colleague Louise Seeba. The 5-2 vote came without discussion. Doran, a freelance drafter and designer who has been an advocate for the district’s Montessori students — two of whom are her daughters — succeeds Jean O’Connell, who was the board’s chairwoman for two years.
Vue, asked after the meeting about his first tough vote, said: “Unfortunately, we can have only one person leading us.” He said Doran and Seeba both were “great women with compassion for the school district and for kids.” But in the end, he said, it was Doran’s experience as vice chair that led him to support her.
Earlier, Vue took the oath of office during a brief swearing-in ceremony that also included O’Connell and John Brodrick, both of whom were re-elected to new four-year terms in the fall.
Vue was sworn in by Ramsey County District Judge Gail Chang Bohr. State Supreme Court Associate Justice Alan Page administered the oath to O’Connell. Brodrick was accompanied by his two daughters.
O’Connell, a retired 3M Co. executive, served as chairwoman for an eventful two years during which voters approved new operating and technology revenues, and the board approved a new racial equity policy.
This year, the board will be called upon to enact a follow-up to the district’s three-year Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan, which has put new emphasis on neighborhood schools.
Vue, who was accompanied by his wife and five children, is co-founder and senior partner of the law firm United Legal Associates and a former chairman of the Hmong American Partnership.
The school board has had Hmong members in the past, most recently in 2011, when Kazoua Kong-Thao completed a lengthy tenure during which she served as chairwoman.
In 2012-13, Asian students were the district’s largest ethnic group, at 31.4 percent.
“I am excited for the years ahead,” Vue said. “Everyone on the board is committed … and they are all willing mentors. I think I am in the right spot.”