A resignation on the Eden Prairie school board prompted a special election Tuesday that will now name two new members to the board after another member resigned this fall.
The departures are among dozens of school board resignations this year amid COVID-19 and critical race theory controversies, with many school board members walking away from the front line of partisan battlegrounds. Minnesota typically sees a dozen or so resignations a year, but across the state, 37 special elections are taking place Tuesday due to vacancies on school boards, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office.
In Eden Prairie, Veronica Stoltz resigned at the end of May, and with her term not expiring until January 2023, the school district opened candidate filings for the vacancy. But at the end of August, another member, Beth Fletcher, also announced her resignation.
"We couldn't add this seat to this November election because the deadlines for filing had passed," said district spokesman Brett Johnson.
Recently, the board decided that Fletcher's seat would be filled by appointing the runner-up in the results of Tuesday's special election for Stoltz's vacancy. But whoever is appointed to Fletcher's seat will only fill the position until the next school board election in 2022, when there will be a regular election as well as a special election to fill the remainder of Fletcher's term, which ends in January 2025.
This won't be so confusing for voters next November, Johnson said, but for candidates filing, they will need to decide whether to run in the regular election or special election race.
School Board Member Karla Bratrud was appointed in June to fill Stoltz's seat until Tuesday's election is canvassed. She was appointed to fill an 11-month vacancy in 2019 and previously served on the board from 2012 to 2019, but Bratrud is not running to remain on the board.
The five candidates on Tuesday's ballot for the vacant school board seat are Steven Bartz, Albert Born, Michelle Mattison, Francesca Pagán-Umar, and Darryl Stanton. The winner will be elected to Stoltz's seat while the runner-up will be appointed by the Eden Prairie school board to temporarily fill Fletcher's seat.
Both resignations were because of job relocations out of state. Fletcher, who was just elected to the board November 2020, wrote in her resignation letter that the decision was "very sudden" and a new job in Atlanta was an "amazing opportunity offered to our family." As for Stoltz, she was elected to the board in 2019 and resigned after her husband got a job in Arizona, according to the Eden Prairie Local News.
In summer 2020, Stoltz faced backlash from the board for violating a handful of policies at a meeting. According to board documents, the violations resulted in Stolz being removed from the Board Development Committee, additional training and a public apology.
Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751