THE ABC REFERENDUM

It will empower all of city's neighborhoods

While only one of six households in Minneapolis have children of school age, schools have a broad impact on the health of our city. Strong schools raise property values, fuel the city's economic engine with qualified employees, attract and retain income-generating families, reduce crime and create more-vital neighborhoods.

For our school system to be successful, it must be well connected to all of our neighborhoods and communities. Today's school board, with its seven at-large elected directors, fails to adequately connect our school district to our communities. The current structure also falls short in making board members fully accountable to the communities they represent. As it is said, to be accountable to all is to be accountable to none.

The "Election Districts" referendum on the ballot this Nov. 4 is an improvement of the school board structure. Also referred to as the ABC Referendum, this ballot issue proposes to improve accountability (A), balance of geographic representation (B) and connection to our communities (C). It expands the school board by two directors -- electing six by district boundaries and three at-large members.

JOHN QUINCY, MINNEAPOLIS

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Having a plurality of affluent voters over the past three decades, we have seen that the current school board model has greatly benefitted the city's South Side, providing a clear majority of board members elected from that area of the city. Analysis of school closings and resource allocation during the past few years shows that the north and northeast corridors have been negatively impacted. I believe this is directly related to less representation on the board.

Democracy demands that all people have a voice. Did you know that northeast Minneapolis has not had a school board member since Len Biernat -- some 12 years ago?

On Nov. 4, please vote "Yes" to "Election by District" -- it's as easy as ABC!

DEAN R. DEGROOT, MINNEAPOLIS

HOUSE DISTRICT 53A

Kappler's well-qualified, and a better fit

I found your endorsement in Minnesota House District 53A (editorial, Oct. 24) quite lacking. Paul Gardner has been anything but a representative of our district. In his first term he has voted to raise taxes by billions of dollars, and his strict party-line voting record demonstrates a disconnect with our socially moderate, fiscally conservative district.

Moreover, there couldn't be a larger experience gap between the two candidates. Gardner's career has involved working on recycling issues in the nonprofit sector. John Kappler's life includes service in the U.S. Navy, several decades managing large and small businesses, a masters degree from Northwestern University and a gubernatorial appointment to the Minnesota Academic Standards Committee. He is a mathematics instructor at a local college.

John Kappler would be a far more representative voice for our community in the state House.

MARCUS ESMAY, CIRCLE PINES

THE CHANGE OF A LIFETIME

Clean house -- it'll really get their attention

American voters who want change have an unprecedented opportunity in the coming election. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign is all about change.

Specifically, he asked America to vote for change when, at the Democratic National Convention, he said, "You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result."

I intend to answer Obama's call for change by voting against every incumbent in the coming election. Don't buy the phony argument that we need to retain experience. Not one of our founding fathers was an incumbent.

JAMES CHENVERT, CHAMPLIN

U.S. Senate race

Coleman should rethink party affiliation

In their sniggering "comic book" attack ad against Al Franken, the Republicans have produced a much greater obscenity than anything Franken ever came up with.

Republicans don't understand -- or refuse to acknowledge -- that Franken's "blue" material, whether or not you find it clever, was intended for a mature audience, whether in a book, an adult magazine or on late-night TV. The Republicans, on the other hand, have targeted their slime right at our kids.

If Norm Coleman really is an independent person, if he really is serious about repudiating this kind of political sleaze, then he should immediately resign from the Republican Party. I'm not holding my breath; Coleman apparently wants to chair the committee that produced this garbage.

MARK BRADLEY, ROSEVILLE

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Al Franken is the right choice for U.S. Senate. He is honest, smart and has integrity. He is genuinely interested in the welfare of other people, and actually listens to them. He has listened to me. And, yes, he is not a well-honed, slick, out-and-out politician as is Norm Coleman.

Al Franken was friends with Paul Wellstone, who was loud, unconventional and absolutely dedicated to serving and representing the people of Minnesota. Wellstone's voice is gone. I want another voice that is less politician and more heart and dedication. I want Franken.

WENDY HENRY, MINNEAPOLIS

VOTER INTIMIDATION

Such tactics have no place in Minnesota

Regarding "Callers question registered voters' eligibility" (Oct. 30): Groups like Minnesota Majority need to be investigated and if applicable prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The strategic, systematic pursuit of voter suppression -- under the cover of utterly bogus and so often racist claims of "voter fraud" -- is one of the most disgraceful facets of the conservative movement, and it must be stopped.

I urge Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to aggressively send the message to such groups that we do not tolerate voter intimidation and misinformation activities in Minnesota.

ERIC KREIDLER, MINNEAPOLIS