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13 candidates file for 2-year positions on Bemidji School Board

These positions would fulfill the remainder of the terms of former board members Jeff Haack and Gabriel Warren who resigned in November 2021 and July 2022 respectively.

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BEMIDJI – Two two-year positions for the Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education will be on the ballot at the Nov. 8 general election.

Following an Aug. 16 filing period deadline, 13 candidates are vying for these spots on the board.

These positions would fulfill the remainder of the terms of former board members Jeff Haack and Gabriel Warren who resigned in November 2021 and July 2022 respectively.

Brian Dow

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Pioneer was unable to reach Brian Dow for comment.

Guy Drevlow

Guy Drevlow, 46, is an assistant manager and chief operating officer at Bemidji Cooperative Association.

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“I feel the district needs to be run more like a business and be fiscally responsible for decisions that are made as they move forward,” Drevlow said. “I see decisions being made without much thought being placed into that decision such as land purchases and other savings that could be made.”

Drevlow detailed other priorities including the use of cleaner fuels in district transportation, forging trust between the school board and the public, and more effective communication with district residents.

Jake Hemingway

Jake Hemingway, 40, works in finance and as part of his priority list, he explained that cutting wasteful spending and lowering taxes is just one of them.

Stating his support for a student and parent’s bill of rights, specifically eliminating future mandates regarding masks, vaccines, social distancing and lockdowns, he mentioned, “as a father, I have seen firsthand the harm done to my teen daughter from (the board’s) one size fits all policies.”

Hemingway also referenced curriculum issues that he wants to address.

“Schools have become little more than leftist indoctrination centers, with the goal of producing mindless automatons that blindly obey, never question authority and can only regurgitate the propaganda talking points of the authoritarians,” he said. “This must end.”

Justin Hoover

Justin Hoover, 44, is the owner of Blue Ox Storage.

“What motivates me to run for school board is seeing the need for parent’s voices to be heard and their desires to be upheld by the elected school board,” Hoover said. “I would like to be a part of helping our schools become a safer, more welcoming environment for both teachers and students.”

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Stating his commitment to education, Hoover added, “we must work together when challenging times arise in order to provide the best education possible in the best environment possible. I would be honored to be a part of this process.”

Kimberly Jannson

Kimberly Jannson, 48, is a job counselor for the Leech Lake Nation.

“As a mother to a bi-racial son and a community leader, I am confident that I’ll bring a positive impact on our school district and help provide opportunities for our staff and students,” Jannson said.

Multicultural awareness among students and parents is one of Jannson’s main priorities should she be elected to the board.

“I hope to represent equity and equality to our children’s education, and I am looking forward to bringing our community in to have these discussions,” she left off.

Julie Laitala

Julie Laitala, 47, is a lead ophthalmic assistant at Sanford Health of Bemidji and the owner of Revolution MMA Fitness.

Laitala hopes to bring a different perspective to the board as a leader, community member and mother that would unite all stakeholders of the district.

“My top priority will be to make decisions that have a positive impact on all students, staff and facilities all while representing our community,” she detailed. “We must keep the education, safety and well-being of each student at the forefront of any decisions and policies.”

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Laitala also emphasized students’ equitable access to trade school opportunities, work-study programs with local businesses and support systems for students and teachers all while being financially responsible.

C.T. Marhula

C.T. Marhula is the chief executive officer of Moonlight Research and a member of the Bemidji Charter Commission.

Drawing on six years of being on the Grand Forks School Board, Marhula would like to aid in the transition that has come with new Superintendent Jeremy Olson.

“My initial goals are quite simple: assist the new superintendent in establishing a great, trusting relationship with all stakeholders,” Marhula mentioned.

He also detailed his aspirations of a 100% graduation rate, staff compensation discussions and increased reading proficiency for elementary students.

Michael Meehlhause

Michael Meehlhause, 33, is an academic advisor at TrekNorth High School.

“I’m running for Bemidji School Board because I believe that strong public schools equal strong communities,” Meehlhause said. “I understand the challenges students and teachers face in the classroom because I am an educator myself.”

If elected, Meehlhause detailed his priorities of addressing teacher retention, managing the district’s budget and ensuring that student success and wellbeing are the primary focus during board decisions.

Daniel Nynas

Daniel Nynas, 41, is a financial analyst for a credit union and a board member for the Bemidji Boys and Girls Club.

“As a parent of two children attending (the district), I will work to ensure we deliver excellent education, programming and support to every student with our available funding,” Nynas said.

He highlighted his 18 years in banking and nonprofit work along with his master’s in business administration which he feels would provide the necessary expertise to navigate the district’s budget decisions.

“If elected, I will respect and listen to everyone in our district regardless of differences, work to provide transparency and accountability, renew trust in district leadership, and unite our community to prioritize our students,” he left off.

Marie Claire Richey

Marie Claire Richey, 25, is a homeschool teacher of three children.

With family members attending the district, prior volunteer experience and her bachelor's degree in accounting from Bemidji State University, Richey feels she can effectively serve on the board.

"I would love to put my passion and skills to good use to serve the parents, children and teachers of (the district) and improve the safety, fiscal responsibility and transparency of the Bemidji School District," Richey said.

Danielle Thorson

Danielle Thorson, 36, is a financial counselor at the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center.

“As a current district parent, I decided to run for school board after two failed referendums, knowing the school board had serious and difficult choices to make,” Thorson said. “I am faced with difficult and time-sensitive situations daily in my career, and pride myself on finding creative solutions to these scenarios.”

Stating her support for students, teachers, staff and the community, Thorson added, “I am committed to continuing the practice of inclusion and diversity within our school system to continue to empower, engage and support all persons in the district.”

Miriam White

Miriam White, 57, is an associate professor of education at Bemidji State University.

Expressing support for a referendum, White mentioned, “I understand that we need to pass a referendum in order to continue to have autonomy in our decision-making ability and will work to keep that in place.”

White highlighted the different opportunities that are available to students throughout the district and wants to continue the focus on students.

“I believe that Bemidji Schools have their core values focused on ‘students first’ and I want to help continue that mindset,” White left off.

Rebecca Whiting

Rebecca Whiting, 40, is a homeschool teacher and a small business owner.

“I went to graduate school originally to be a teacher, but once I got into the school system I realized the limitations that the system had for the kids,” Whiting said. “Instead of allowing myself to be molded into what the school system wanted from teachers, I stepped out and immersed myself in homeschooling and walked away from the career I wanted.”

Whiting credits her experiences with homeschooling and public school systems for her perspective on what the school district needs.

“Those challenges are still there, but I am now at a place in life where I feel that I could make a positive impact where the entire community could benefit in overcoming challenges that require out-of-the-box thinkers,” she added.

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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