PAID LETTER

Withdrawing candidacy

I am writing to clear up any confusion regarding my candidacy for the Mahtomedi School Board. While it is too late to take my name off the ballot, I am withdrawing from the race and fully endorsing Paul Donna.

With three candidates named on the ballot for one open seat on the school board, it is important not to “split the vote for change” and lose this opportunity to help our schools return to their former excellence. Since we share similar educational goals and family values, I am giving Paul Donna my full endorsement for the Mahtomedi School Board. I am supporting Paul Donna because he is a proven leader, he will listen to the concerns of Mahtomedi families and he will prioritize restoring academic and educational excellence to our Mahtomedi Schools. 

In a recent letter to the editor by Mr. Phil Williams, my character and judgment were attacked for participating in the recent League of Women Voter’s Forum. In his opinion, I showed “extremely poor judgment” and lacked ethics for not informing the LWV of my intentions to withdraw from the race. The fact is that I did discuss my situation and intentions with the LWV ahead of the forum. It was their recommendation that I should participate because my name is on the November ballot and that I could use the forum to inform potential Mahtomedi voters of my withdrawal. Since there were no formal introductory statements in the forum, I incorporated my withdrawal into my answers to their questions on multiple occasions for the sake of clarity and transparency.

While Williams mentions in his letter that Tony Vosooney has “served as a replacement” on the school board for 11 months, he fails to mention that Vosooney was appointed — not elected — to the school board. In fact, voter chose not to elect Vosooney when he ran in 2020. Mr. Williams’ lack of transparency and his attack on my character and on Paul Donna’s character is a prime example of someone spreading false information for political gain. Just one more reason to vote for Paul Donna.

Barb Black

Mahtomedi

 

PAID LETTER

Vote for leader with diverse skills

It is with much enthusiasm that I write to endorse Bill Mahre for White Bear Lake Area School Board. As a parent of a child in the district, I believe Mahre’s community and business leadership is exactly what the White Bear Lake district needs. For years, he has volunteered his time to local youth sports groups in the community, as both a coach and board member. Bill has also been a member of the Merrick board of trustees for eight years, serving as president for two years. His continued efforts in giving back to the community and assisting our next generation’s future success is what our board needs. He brings a unique and diverse skill set that is unmatched by anyone else. I know that he will ensure our district maintains good fiscal responsibility and will listen to a diverse group of community members, allowing for the voice of all to be represented and operate at quality level. Mahre for White Bear Lake Area School Board!! WBLCan4SB.org

Kristoffer Comstock

Hugo

 

PAID LETTER

Candidate is breath of fresh air

As a White Bear Lake alum and lifelong resident in this community is it with great pleasure to endorse Luke Michaud for the White Bear Lake Area School Board. Luke has been a pillar of this community since his youth, has watched all his children graduate from White Bear Lake and now is watching over his grandchildren and many nieces and nephews attending his alma mater. Luke has served as a director of the White Bear Lake Conservation District for 26 years. During this 26-year tenure he was the chair for a total of four terms. Currently, he served as a Lake Use Committee member. Luke became involved with the WBLCD because of his vested interest in what is best for our community and to ensure that the quality, access and longevity of White Bear Lake is maintained now and years to come. I know that Luke will have the same passion and commitment for our school board. His passion is to ensure success for every child in this district, that teachers are equipped with the tools and support they need and that the parent voices are heard. Luke is the breath of fresh air our school board needs, and I hope you will join me in voting for him on Nov. 2. WBLCan4SB.org

Bridget Kamas

Hugo

 

PAID LETTER

Vote for candidate who will listen to parents

A few weeks ago, I attended an event and had the opportunity to hear from some of the individuals running for school board, Bill Mahre, Luke Michaud, Greg Hilgers and Lisa Lukachek. Lisa Lukacheck was a candidate who really resonated with me as a parent of young children. Like me, Lisa is a mom, working hard full time, volunteering to coach soccer, chaperoning school field trips and doing whatever it is that keeps her involved in the community and helping the kids. Her mission, if she is elected to school board, is to represent the voices of the community and ensure that our kids are always at the center of every decision being made. Many parents like myself who have expressed concerns or raised questions to our current board this past year have gone unanswered and our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Communication and transparency are a top priority of Lisa’s to ensure the voices of ALL parents and community members are heard. Lisa embodies the leadership traits that will ensure my voice as a parent is heard and represented. Because like you and me, she is just a parent wanting what is best for this district and her kids. www.WBLCan4SB.org

Tamara Comstock

Hugo

 

PAID LETTER

Candidate brings variety of perspectives

As a native Minnesotan born and raised in the Twin Cities, Greg Hilgers and his wife moved back to White Bear Lake once they started their family. Community, education and family were key components in their decision to relocate while sacrificing long work commute times for themselves. I’ve had the sincere pleasure of knowing Greg through kids’ activities for the past several years. The Hilgers family is very active in every part of their children’s lives, so it is no surprise that Greg has put his name on the ballot to run for a seat on the school board. Academic leadership is one of the concerns Greg has. Education was one of the key decision factors bringing the Hilgers back to White Bear Lake, and it is something we strongly need to improve upon in the district to help our community thrive. If elected, Greg would be one of the few board representatives with children actively in the district, which is an important connection when the board is making decisions for our students. Parent representation is critically important. We need people with deep community roots alongside people with rock-solid business experience that bring varying sets of experiences and perspectives to pursue a shared vision. Greg is certainly an individual up for the challenge. Vote for Greg Hilgers on Nov. 2. WBLCan4SB.org

Christina Mickelson

Hugo

 

PAID LETTER

School board needs diversity of experience

In a few weeks, District 624 residents will elect four candidates to the school board. While it is important to consider the skillset, experiences and leadership traits of school board candidates, our community should also understand the background of the three incumbents who will remain on the board for two more years. These remaining board members are teacher union-endorsed and two are current or former teachers. The White Bear Lake Area School Board does not need more of the same attributes and like-minded thinking. We need diversity. It can be found in Bill Mahre, Luke Michaud, Lisa Lukachek and Greg Hilgers. Vote on Nov. 2 for a new slate of candidates if you want an approachable school board made up of these diverse, independent candidates. They will consider new ideas, be fiscally responsible and establish defined measurements for success. blcan4sb.org

Sue Letcher

Hugo

 

PAID LETTER

Vote for excellence 

My husband and I have been fortunate to call Mahtomedi home for over 46 years. Mahtomedi Public Schools are the heart of the community in which we live. As an alumnus, it’s been so fun to watch our children graduate, and all five of our grandchildren be a part of the Zephyr Community. I have put my heart and soul into serving the community and school district, and served on the Mahtomedi School Board for 16 years. 

Tony Vosooney is committed to students at Mahtomedi Public Schools. Through collaboration, the school board is tasked with establishing vision and goals for the district. They work, on behalf of students, to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality, rigorous education that prepares them for life after graduation. As a founding member of the Celebration of Excellence Committee, I can assure you that excellence is alive and well at Mahtomedi. For 20 years, I have been able to witness the achievements of our senior classes and watch them grow in their future endeavors.

As an incumbent school board member, Tony will resume advocating for students to realize and achieve their passions. I have full confidence that he will continue to work for the betterment of the schools on behalf of the students. I encourage you to do your homework and speak to our educators about the excellence in our schools. Our students, as well as our teachers, are doing amazing things!

Lael Ramaley

Mahtomedi

Former Mahtomedi School Board Member

Former Mahtomedi City Council Member

Former MAEF Trustee

 

PAID LETTER

Experienced candidate knows challenges

An effective school board member establishes a clear vision, works well on a team, uses data to drive decisions and is committed to educational equity. These characteristics describe Mahtomedi School Board candidate Tony Vosooney.

Prior to his appointment to the school board last fall, Tony dedicated countless hours to understanding the board’s work, as demonstrated by his regular attendance at board meetings and participation in district-level committees. That experience was evident during his livestreamed interview with the school board (November 2020) and was a major reason why the board appointed him to the interim position—he stood out over all other candidates. Since joining the board, Tony has gone above and beyond in his training with metro school board associations to better understand the complexities of his role. This dedication has enabled him to hit the ground running and contribute to a high-functioning board during a challenging year.

Tony has held an integral role on several district committees, including the District Strategic Planning Team, which created the districtwide strategic vision—demonstrating Tony’s ability to listen to community voices and understand their needs. Serving on the PTO Leadership Team for five years (two as president), Tony oversaw successful events that raised more than $240,000 to fund innovative classroom tools, field trips and immersive activities for elementary students. As current school board treasurer, Tony has approved a fiscally sound budget, demonstrating his responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

As a former teacher, committed volunteer and parent of two children in the district, Tony knows firsthand the challenges facing our schools. Tony is a team player and approaches all that he does with a positive attitude and desire to benefit ALL Mahtomedi students. Tony sees excellence in our students’ accomplishments beyond test scores, and supports educational opportunities for students to discover their passions. Through his volunteer work and dedication, Tony has repeatedly demonstrated his sincere interest in continuing to grow excellence in our schools.

Tony Vosooney is the candidate with the proven dedication and experience to lead Mahtomedi Schools forward.

Suzanne Anderson

Mahtomedi

Past President and Trustee (2010-2020)

Mahtomedi Area Educational Foundation (MAEF)

 

Broader, open communication needed

As a longtime resident of White Bear Lake and a frequent walker along Lake Avenue by the Ramsey County Beach in White Bear Lake, I was surprised to learn from a posting at the beach area regarding the Ramsey County Parks Ordinance Project of proposed changes to the current ordinance. This was the first I was made aware of it as I walked by the beach sign earlier this week. I was taken aback when I saw this.

My questions are: 1) Why is/was this not communicated locally in the White Bear Press or Pioneer Press to make residents of Ramsey County more aware that this is happening?

Not all people are even aware this is happening behind the scenes. Not every Ramsey County resident has access to various communication platforms on the internet where this has been communicated on the project site.

2) Why is it necessary to change the verbiage of the current ordinance? My understanding is that the intention is not to change the ordinance per se, but by changing the verbiage, it would certainly change the interpretation of it by individuals and create a whole new set of problems the community and Ramsey County does not need. Please do a better job of keeping the communication lines open to ALL 552,352 residents of Ramsey County (according to the 2020 Census), not just a select few. I think today’s interpretation of being “politically correct” has gone too far.

Geri Longville

White Bear Lake

 

Role of school boards

As I was reading the synopses of each of the school board candidates in the White Bear Press, I had to stop and ask myself whether the candidates acknowledge the parameters of their position as a school board member. 

I have been a school board member in another state so I try to look at the statements through my past experiences. 

The school board hires a superintendent to carry out the policies of the school board. School board members are elected to listen to the community, faculty and staff and to work with the superintendent to develop policy for the district. They along with administration develop and approve a budget for the school district.  

A school board or individual member is not directed to run the daily operations of the school district. They are not elected to micromanage the schools, the daily curriculum or staff (excluding the superintendent) in the district. The district administration is hired to complete this task based up policies established for the district. 

School boards can develop policy to address achievement gaps, equity, fiscal responsibility and inclusion as well as many other issues.

In reviewing the answers the candidates provided to the questions asked by the White Bear Press, I feel some candidates answers suggest they would be likely to interfere with the implementation of the district policies.

I feel we have a number of good candidates for the school board who have the objectivity and knowledge to lead our district and provide support and a positive future for all of our faculty, staff and students.

 

Carol Stehly

White Bear Lake Newspaper a local gem

In our current social climate, I think it’s especially important to say thank you to people who perform a service you value. Today I want to thank all the dedicated and talented employees who work tirelessly to bring us the White Bear Press every week. You provide our community with so much beneficial information in each issue. The writing is top notch, fair and impartial. I would like to give a special shoutout to Debra Neutkens for outstanding excellence in her coverage of the Rush Line BRT Project and the No Rush Line Coalition.

We are so lucky to have this local gem of a newspaper. I would urge everyone who can afford to, please subscribe to the paper. If you can’t pay the full subscription price, make a donation in the amount you can afford. Every little bit helps. Just like so many of our local businesses, Press Publications has struggled due to the pandemic. It would be tragic to lose this valuable source of news that many of us enjoy but perhaps take for granted.  

To the employees of Press Publications, I hope you go home at the end of each workday feeling good about yourself and how you contribute to making life better for others. Thank you!

Evelyn Ecklund

White Bear Lake

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