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New Candidate Joins School Board Race

Longtime citizen activist jumps into at-large race.

Only last week, the race for the one at-large seat on the Minneapolis school board up for grabs this year looked settled. Now, as a longtime citizen activist declares a write-in campaign for the seat, could those predictions get overturned?

Incumbent Carla Bates has been widely favored to win the race because of her long list of achievements in her first term, and the fact that her main opponent, Doug Mann, has not been able to win any of the several school board races he's competed for.

However, on Aug. 7, Eli Kaplan announced he was launching a write-in campaign to challenge Bates in an email to the MPS Parents' Forum listserv. 

"I went to the school board candidates forum on Mon Aug 6 and I was not impressed with any of them," Kaplan wrote, saying his wife and others had persuaded him to mount his challenge.

It's notoriously hard to win an election through a write-in candidacy, but Kaplan has a bit of a name-recognition advantage. By his count, he has 42 years of volunteer work, activism, and time spent on citizen advisory and budget committees in the Minneapolis Public Schools under his belt. On Wednesday afternoon, Kaplan posted a full list of his positions on various issues impacting the district on his blog. Kaplan's list focuses on "fiscal responsibility," "goal-setting," and transparency between the district, school board, and voters.

According to the Southwest Journal, Kaplan once supported Bates, but has since had a falling-out over the disbanding of a citizens' advisory committee he chaired.

Current at-large school board member Rebecca Gagnon is known to be close to Kaplan, but in an email to Patch, she said she has not decided whether or not to endorse his run.

Kaplan has many months to rally support—write-in candidates are not allowed on the primary ballot. 

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Jesse Lykken August 11, 2012 at 01:05 AM
I have no personal information on the disbanding of the citizen's advisory committee that Eli Kaplan chaired. None. It would be interesting to hear some of the details. It has been my experience that such committees are either the essence of grassroots democracy, or the personal fiefdoms of those running it. These committees can provide a great deal of power and authority to those few who show up. I am of course against them in principle, unless I am chairing one.
Eli Kaplan August 15, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Eli Kaplan I just want to clarify the issue of disbanding of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee. It was disbanded because no data, for several years, was being fed to the committee for them to be able to evaluate the finances of the district and committee members were discouraged. In its place a Citizens Long Range Planning Committee was created with the help of Carla Bates. By laws were established for the new committee; however, it took almost 2 years before they (Bylaws) went to the board for approval. As of this date, another 2 years has passed and this committee still does not exist. This is why I question Carla’s commitment to work with school stakeholders which I feel is an important issue.
James Sanna (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Thanks for the clarification, Eli!

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