DFL'ers endorse Costain, Stewart, Williams, Madden, for school board

As reported by the Star Tribune and other online sources, the Minneapolis DFL endorsed four school board candidates at its convention yesterday at Patrick Henry High School. They are Pam Costain, Chris Stewart, T Williams, and Tom Madden.

Costain is a former teacher, who also served as executive director of the Resource Center of the Americas for 14 years. She is currently education and training director for the Wellstone Action organization, and she helped to found the Save Our Schools/Parents United Network, which organizes parents to lobby for adequate funding of the public schools. Costain is married, with two daughters who graduated from Longfellow, Ramsey, and South. Costain, who lives in the Bancroft neighborhood, was endorsed on the first ballot, receiving 73.5 percent of the vote.

Chris Stewart, from South Minneapolis, is a newcomer to city politics. He is a single parent with a son at South and he has worked in the area of workforce development, including as a consultant to job programs serving teens, the homeless, and disabled people. A native of New Orleans, Stewart emphasized in his campaign that as a young black man, he struggled in the public schools, and as a single parent, it has been challenging for him to navigate the school system and stay engaged as a parent. Stewart believes that this experience helps him to understand the experience of other parents who feel disempowered or frustrated with the public schools. Steward was endorsed on the first ballot, with 64.8 percent of the vote.

T (Theatrice) Williams, from North Minneapolis, has a long record of public service, including cofounding the Minneapolis Urban Coalition and serving as a public housing director, a Humphrey Institute Fellow, and the state’s first corection ombudsman. Williams has been involved with the Minneapolis public schools since his children were students (he is now 71). Williams was not thought to be one of the top four vote-getters, but he made an impressive showing on the first ballot, gaining 57.7 percent on the first ballot and going over 60 percent on the second, winning endorsement.

Tom Madden, from south Minneapolis, is fairly new to the Minneapolis public school system, with a first-grade daughter at Kenwood, another daughter entering kindergarten in the fall, and a third who takes part in the Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) program. To parents who attend school meetings, however, Madden is a familiar face, having been very involved in the last two years in meeting with other parents and school officials to ask questions and advocate for the Minneapolis schools. Madden received 56.6 percent of the vote on the first ballot and 58.5 percent on the second. When candidates Jill Davis, Polly Harrison-Townsend, and Joe Erickson dropped out after the second ballot, Madden was endorsed by acclamation.

The complete voting rundown went as follows:

Ballot 1: 747 votes cast, with 449 (60 percent) required for endorsement Pam Costain 549 votes for 73.5 percent; endorsed. Jill Davis 272 votes for 36.4 percent Joe Erickson 207 votes for 27.7 percent Harry Grigsby 33 for 4.4 percent; dropped. Polly Harrison- Townsend 203 votes for 27.2 percent Judith James 35 votes for 4.7 percent; dropped. Tom Madden 423 votes for 56.6 percent; dropped. Chris Stewart 484 votes for 64.8; endorsed. T Williams 431 votes for 57.7 percent

Ballot 2: 646 votes cast, 388 required for endorsement Jill Davis 182 votes for 28.2 percent Joe Erickson 105 votes for 16.3 percent Polly Harrison- Townsend 117 votes for 18.1 percent Tom Madden 378 votes for 58.5 percent T Williams 410 votes for 63.5 percent; endorsed. “No Endorsement” 2 votes

After the second ballot, Madden supporters made a motion to suspend the rules and endorse him by acclamation, while others argued in favor of continuing the ballot since none of the candidates then endorsed were from Northeast, leaving that part of the city theoretically unrepresented. (During the question-and-answer session, each of the candidates, when discussing the Davnie bill—which would change school board seats from at-large to representing geographical districts—emphasized commitment to children throughout the city.) In the end, Davis, Harrison-Townsend, and Erickson withdrew, and Madden was endorsed by acclimation.

last revised: May 16, 2006