by Jim Boyle
The Elk River Area School Board will have three members following the unofficial results of Tuesday’s election.
John R. Anderson and Sarah Hamlin won the at-large seats sought by six candidates, including incumbent Kim Michels.
Tony Walters, who holds one of the current at-large seats, did not run for reelection.
Mindy Freiberg beat incumbent Shane Steinbrecher for the Election District 1 seat.
Sara Weis ran unopposed to claim her Election District 2 seat.
Anderson was the top vote-getter.
“That was amazing,” he said of finishing with the most votes.
Anderson garnered 12,088 on Nov. 8 to win one of two at-large seats on the Elk River Area School Board. Hamlin won the other seat with 9,843 votes.
Her next closest competitor was J. Brian Calva, who finished with 9,584 votes.
Crissy Uttech garnered 8,860 votes to claim fourth.
Incumbent Kim Michels got 5,964 votes and Jamie Plantenberg-Selbitschka got 2,864 votes.
When asked by the Star News why he felt he did so well, Anderson said he thinks it’s the connection he made with constituents.
Campaigning started in the summer with parades, continued into the fall with door-knocking and included newspaper advertisements.
He said now that he has been elected it’s time to become a student again.
“I gotta go to school,” he said. “That’s one way of looking at it. Coming out of the corporate world and going into a nonprofit world with a government entity will be a little bit different.
“I think I have budgeting/finance experience and people skills/management experience working with multi-million-dollar stuff.”
He said his job going forward will be to build relationships with people, getting to know the employees and the administrators and so on.
This was not Hamlin’s first foray into politics. She ran twice for the Minnesota House of Representatives as the DFL-endorsed candidate, but this was her first attempt to get on the School Board.
The Star News called her on election night for her reaction to being a winner in an election.
“Thank goodness,” she said. “It’s about time!”
Asked why she thinks she won, she said she brings a lot to the table as a therapist and mother of five kids, four of whom have gone through ISD 728, and “my husband’s a teacher.”
She said she’s proud to have run a clean, kind, inclusive campaign.
“I am all for students, teachers and staff and wanting to do the right thing,” she said.
Hamlin said her top priority will be to make sure schools have proper mental health supports for kids.
“I want to learn how the board runs, what I can do and what our roles are,” she said. “And then really focus in on mental health and trauma-inclusive schools.”
She said she views it as a pathway to deal with behaviors and stress experienced in schools.
Mindy Freiberg won a seat on the Elk River Area School Board by defeating an incumbent. She won by a vote of 7,947 to 6,206 to win the Election District 1 seat, which includes all of the Zimmerman area and most of Elk River.
“I worked hard,” she said. “It’s always very difficult to beat an incumbent, especially when they are backed by the teachers’ union.”
Freiberg said her bid was a calling and felt heading into the election she had a decent chance of winning based on the relationships she built.
Now that she has been elected, it’s time to observe, ask questions and learn the job, she says Once she does, she hopes to bring about some changes.
She said she was disappointed that J. Brian Calva, whom she campaigned with along with Anderson, did not win.
Calva expressed gratitude for the amazing volunteers he worked with.
“I felt we had done everything we could,” he said. “I was so blessed to be surrounded and carried by amazing volunteers and other people I was working with.
“If anything, I feel disappointed on their behalf because they worked so hard.”
Incumbent Sara Weis, who ran unopposed, was the only incumbent to win. She claimed the Election District 2 seat she currently fills.
Tony Walters, whose at-large term was up, did not seek reelection.