On Nov. 5, the special election for two open Waseca School Board positions will take place, with some unexpected additions.

Interim Board members Edita Mansfield and Aaron Skogen have been sitting on the board since April and will be running in the special election to hold their seats. Chris Mitchell will also be running, after previously taking part in the November 2018 election and applying for the interim seat.

Meanwhile, former board chair and member Randy Zimmerman will be running as a write-in for the special election. Zimmerman resigned from the School Board just last January, but in a Facebook post last week, he announced he will be running as a write-in.

The new elects from the special election will be seated on the School Board in January 2020 with their term running for one year. The seats filled during the special election will again be on the ballot of the November 2020 election.

THE CANDIDATES

Aaron Skogen

From: Waseca

Job: General manager at Aquatix in Eden Prairie

Family: Wife and three kids

Why are you running to keep position?

I think I accepted this position and would like to continue. I felt I could bring a fresh perspective and up until the resignation there was a lot of tenure on the board, I think I brought a fresh perspective, new ideas and a new face. I bring broad business experience to the board as well.

What do you want to do if elected again or what is the main issue concerning the school board?

These last seven/8 months has really been a steep learning curve about the business of the board. To say I had an agenda I didn’t, even since joining we’ve accomplished some good work including a new strategic plan and implementing a formal process for administration review. We’ve established a formal process and put accountability processes in place to make sure the strategy is linked to the activity and accountability and that’s just some of the work we’ve done in my intermerim role. I think I can continue that, making sure that the strategy is aligned to the students and about advancing the students education and serves the students. I see that as the big priority of preparing our students for the future. Having the curriculum align with the students success and align with the students future or what they decide to do but also that we’ve given the, the tools to do it.

Chris Mitchell

Was on the November 2018 ballot but did not win

Applied for the position that was appointed but was not selected

From: Waseca

Job: Corrections Lieutenant with the Minnesota Department of Corrections

Family: Wife and one daughter

Why are you running again?

I think that because of the reason of the step downs on non election years and there is a lack of leadership and there is a need for someone to step in to help build the team.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the school board?

So I can tell you from talking to students...what their concerns are from Junior high and high school and their biggest concern is safety. That’s something that I want to tackle right away and take an active approach to so they don’t feel like they have to be concerned all day. There should be things in place that they know about and I don’t think we’re quite there yet. With my background of active base training, I know I’m the most capable to lead the charge on that board. They’re (students) the silent majority most times when it comes to decisions.

I think that the district started out a couple years ago with a passive approach at mental health and recently it’s taken a back seat. I think now more than ever they need to keep in touch with mental health professionals and get them in the schools and help in the schools with mental health issues...

Edita Mansfield

From: Slovakia originally, immigrated to the United States in 1998 and to Waseca a few years ago.

Job: Target Corporation since 2005 in a variety of information technology roles.

Family: Husband and six kids

Why are you running to keep position?

For the last six months I have really enjoyed being on the board. I learned a lot and I think if I can be involved in the board I can make a change, a difference. I think everyone is busy and it’s an additional responsibility that we do and I will try to make a difference in Waseca schools and community and I enjoy being there and learn a lot every time we meet.

What is the main issue concerning the school board?

The balance of the budget to make sure that we make a good balance and get the stuff that needs to be done and by keeping a balance the taxpayers won’t be surprised. We need to really ensure that we know our priorities and run the best choices that we can regarding the budget and then I think it’s the students and how we can help the students once they are done with school, college, trade or just life and how to make them prepaid better... I think the students are the most important part and that we are focusing on. Students and financial budget if we can make it work then we are set for a good future.

Randy Zimmerman (Write-in candidate)

From: Waseca

Job: Self-employed Residential Architect

Family: Wife and four kids

Why do you want to return to the school board after stepping down?

I’ve had a lot of people over the last several months approach me with concerns again as if I’m still on the board, they know that I’m not, and they’re still coming to me and confiding to me. It doesn’t sound like a good situation. Something’s not right when they’re still coming to me, confiding in me, parents, staff or community members. I don’t know what’s going on, I kind of feel like I’d like to get in there and help. Do I regret doing what I did, no I don’t, because I was between a rock and a hard place but with that said I thought it’d be easier to walk away than it is and it’s proving difficult to walk away knowing that there’s things to be done and things to fix.

As stated on Zimmerman’s Facebook, When I resigned last January, I felt like I didn’t have much of a choice, I felt very defeated, and rendered ineffective. It had nothing to do with being board chair, but everything to do with following roles and responsibilities defined in policy, accountability and overall common decency. I believe I have been a leader that leads by doing, and by serving; serving our community, and serving our students…I have proven myself to be an advocate for academics, for athletics and for the arts. I have proven to be an advocate for teachers, principals and all other staff. Most importantly, I have proven to be an advocate for kids, all kids and our community. I have some unfinished business that I just can’t seem to walk away from, things that I feel need to be done to better position our students and staff for the foreseeable future.

What do you want to do if elected again or what is the main issue concerning the school board?

If I were to prioritize a few things from the list in my head I definitely am concerned about roles and responsibilities and that’s part of the reason why I stepped down and I think that needs to be addressed and squared away. I’d like to ensure that our curriculum is in line with the needs of our students and our workforce and I know that’s a bit of a nation wide issue but i think we can do our part to help our immediate needs locally regionally etc...Our education is geared towards four year college and to be honest I wouldn’t doubt a lot of that accounts for a lot of the mental health that they have and they feel this pressure that they can’t perform and not everyone is wired that way. I would like to make sure to do our part to fix that problem.

These are the two key issues and I think there’s also a little bit of a need in facility needs and program needs that I think need to be addressed and the underlying issues is being financially solvent...

In a post on Zimmerman’s Facebook he stated, My main objectives to being re-elected to the school board will be to ensure a clear vision and direction for the district, provide accountability, ensure the board adheres to its defined rolls and responsibilities, ensure open and transparent communication, ensure fiscal responsibility, ensure a safe learning environment, ensure an enhanced curriculum which is aligned with student needs, provide a nurturing and supportive work environment, and adequate support for activities and athletics. Most importantly, I would like to provide a sense of trust that our community needs.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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