The Minneapolis DFL party endorsed both school board incumbents running for re-election in 2002, but made one-term incumbent Audrey Johnson wait four ballots for its blessing. Party delegates -- whose endorsement is often tantamount to election in school board races -- also endorsed two newcomers for the four seats on this fall's ballot.
Judith Farmer, a 22-year incumbent, was the top vote-getter with 72 percent of the first-ballot vote. Candidates need 60 percent support for endorsement. A former schoolteacher and University-area Prospect Park resident, she serves on the executive committee of the Council of Great City Schools and is the president of the Minnesota School Boards Association. Farmer, 66, is a parent of two Minneapolis South High School graduates.
Joseph Erickson, making his second try for endorsement, finished just behind Farmer with 71 percent on the first ballot. A resident of Downtown's Nicollet Island-East Bank neighborhood, the 45-year-old Erickson is an education professor at Augsburg College. He has experience with youth and families as a youth researcher, high school teacher and psychologist. Erickson has three children in the city school system.
Colleen Moriarity, a school board newcomer, received 70 percent on the first ballot. Moriarity, 49, was former mayor Sharon Sayles Belton's chief of staff and a resident of southwest's Tangletown neighborhood. Moriarity is former executive director of the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, a multi-jurisdiction agency involving children's services. Moriarity has three children, including two graduates of Southwest High.
Johnson, first elected in 2000, was forced into a duel with Jonathan Palmer, a resident of Steven's Square near Downtown. Johnson, a resident of southwest's Lowry Hill East neighborhood and a parent advocate for special-needs children, led Palmer, a former City Council candidate from Stevens Square, on all four ballots.
Palmer, 32, said he does not plan to run in the primary. He acknowledged some delegates may have voted against him because he continued his 2001 6th Ward City Council campaign after losing DFL endorsement.
La Shella Sims received less than 10 percent of the convention vote, but will continue her campaign without endorsement. A resident of north Minneapolis's Willard Hay Neighborhood, Sims is a 13-year member of the Minneapolis School Staff Development Committee, a board member of the League of Women Voters and also of the Headwaters Foundation. Sims' two children are graduates of North High School.
In choosing among six hopefuls, the nearly 500 DFL delegates eschewed their party's usual practice of balancing race and geography. None of the four endorsees were from north or northeast Minneapolis, and delegates endorsed four Caucasian candidates while rejecting two African Americans. Endorsed candidates Johnson and Erickson have minority children.
Candidates may officially file for the school board race July 2-16 at the Minneapolis Elections and Voter Registration Office, 350 S. 5th St., Room 1B (ground floor). The primary election will be held Sept. 10 and the general election on Nov. 5.