Vote was approved 3-1
The Lakeville Area School Board appointed Robin Richards to the board’s vacant sixth seat during its regular meeting Tuesday by a 3-1 vote with Board Member Cinta Schmitz casting the dissenting vote and Board Member David Anderson absent due to a family commitment.
Before the vote, Schmitz made a motion to table the resolution considering an appointment until all board members could be present, but the motion died without a second from another board member.
Board Member Terry Lind made a motion to appoint Richards to the seat, which was seconded by Board Member Kathy Lewis. Lind, Lewis and Board Chair Judy Keliher voted to appoint Richards.
Richards is a health coach. She was a public school administrator and teacher on special assignment in St. Paul Public Schools from 2013-17, according to the district. She was also a math teacher and curricular coach in Chaska and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Richards gained the most support among board members after Nov. 17’s eight candidate interviews. There were eight interviewed by the five-member board from a pool of 14 who submitted applications by the Nov. 12 deadline.
During the board’s Nov. 17 discussion of the candidates, it advanced two finalists to be considered – Richards and Carly Anderson. Richards had the support of all board members as a finalist, while they were split Anderson, who was second among four candidates in the Nov. 2 election.
Schmitz won the election with 5,974 votes or 49.69%, while Anderson had 48.18% or 5,793.
Lind and Anderson expressed support of Richards among the two finalists. Schmitz said she preferred Richards due to her background in education, her parent volunteerism, and her being open minded and willing to work with people who don’t think like her.
Board Chair Judy Keliher said they were fortunate to have two strong candidates.
Some residents commented in open forum during Tuesday’s meeting that the board should delay the appointment process or should have put the open seat on the ballot, as it did with the previous vacancy.
The seat was vacated by the resignation of Lynn Gorski in August after she was hired as assistant city manager in Farmington. The resignation came too late to put the open seat on the Nov. 2 ballot. Special election dates in 2022 include the second Tuesday in February, April, May and August.
The appointment process timeline was set during an Oct. 19 meeting after board members Keliher, Lewis and Lind (Anderson was absent) discussed the idea of having a board member in place at the start of 2022 to participate in “on-boarding” and the organizational items before the board. At the beginning of the year, the board appoints a board chair, vice chair, treasurer and clerk and makes committee assignments.
There is a 30-day waiting period before an appointed member can serve on the board, so Richards wouldn’t be eligible to serve until late December.
The appointment of Richards would bring the board back to full membership for the first time since the beginning of 2021.
The appointment would fill a term that expires in December 2022.
The other candidates for the vacant seat were Kelly Detlefsen, Lisa Backer, Kimberly Baker, Jay Escobar, Sarah Lofgren and Sarah Welcome.
Schmitz was elected to fill the fifth seat vacated by Zach Duckworth after he was elected to the state Senate in 2020. That term also expires in December 2022.
A seventh board seat will be up for election as well in November 2022.
District 194 voters approved adding a seventh seat to the School Board after the special ballot question had 8,147 “yes” votes to 3,684 “no” votes Nov. 2.
Tad Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.