A home-schooling mom, a chemist, an artist, a licensed psychologist, a northeast Minneapolis activist, a six-time board candidate and two incumbents are vying for the Minneapolis school board.
The top six will survive Tuesday's primary and move on to the general election, where three seats will be filled.
The school board candidate slate comes as voters prepare for a November general election where they'll decide the fate of a $60 million referendum.
City voters will also decide the fate of a plan to expand the board from seven to nine seats with three elected citywide and six elected by districts, similar to the city's Park and Recreation Board. If approved, the plan would be phased in over two voting cycles.
Incumbents Sharon Henry-Blythe and Lydia Lee are seeking their second and third terms respectively. Board member Peggy Flanagan is not running again.
Three of the nine candidates received DFL endorsements. They are Lee, Carla Bates and Jill Davis.
Only three of the 24 candidates sworn in for board seats in the past 22 years did not receive the DFL nod when they first won their seat.
Here's a look at the candidates and their major issues:
•Carla Bates, 46, south Minneapolis, www.carlabates.org, IT professional, University of Minnesota; founder of the district's online parent discussion forum, endorsed by DFL.
Main issue: Strengthening the board's leadership and communication with parents and holding schools accountable for the achievement goals outlined in the strategic plan.
•Mary Beth Buss, 49, south Minneapolis, www.marybuss.com, self-employed artist with a masters degree in accounting; frequent volunteer for local arts programs, endorsed by the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus.
Main issue: Providing healthier breakfast and lunch options in schools to counter the childhood obesity epidemic, recruiting seniors to serve as volunteers in schools and addressing educational disparities in neighborhoods hit by the foreclosure crisis.
•Jill Davis, 46, northeast Minneapolis, www.jilldavis.net, licensed psychologist, Anoka Interagency Early Intervention school based initiative; co-chair, Public Education in Northeast, endorsed by DFL.
Main issue: Rebuilding trust in board by being more responsive to the community, effectively managing financial resources and eliminating disparities between city schools.
•Thomas Dicks, 61, south Minneapolis, social studies teacher; former Teacher of the Year nominee; member, district nutrition and fitness working group.
Main issue: Allowing teachers to have more influence over the district's curriculum and ending the assumption that teachers are accountable to the board rather than parents and the community.
•Sharon Henry-Blythe, 53, south Minneapolis, senior member of the current school board, research and policy director, Family Supportive Housing Center LLC.
Main issue: Providing continuity and support to the district's administration as it continues to implement its five-year strategic plan.
•Allison Johnson, 43, south Minneapolis, chemist and patent attorney.
Main issue: Modifying or repealing the No Child Left Behind law and encouraging low-income parents to make their children's education their highest priority.
•Lydia Lee, age 60, south Minneapolis, www.lydialeeforkids.com, retired Minneapolis Public Schools math teacher, current school board chairwoman.
Main issue: Establishing trust in the city's public schools by creating a respectful climate for students and teachers, using proven strategies to address students' diverse needs and enhancing partnerships with district families.
•Doug Mann, 51, south Minneapolis, licensed practical nurse, served on NAACP education advocacy committees, sixth board candidacy.
Main issue: Bringing teacher turnover rates to low level across the district but especially schools with higher concentrations of low-income and minority students, and establishing a college-bound curriculum.
•Kari Reed, 33, south Minneapolis, www.karireed.org, mother of five who home-schools her children.
Main issue: Tired of excuses for low achievement and believes more money isn't the answer; hopes to give parents more choices with charter and contract schools, home school and tax credits.
Patrice Relerford • 612-673-4395