Only last week, the race for the one at-large seat on the Minneapolis school board up for grabs this year looked settled. Now, as a longtime citizen activist declares a write-in campaign for the seat, could those predictions get overturned?
Incumbent Carla Bates has been widely favored to win the race because of her long list of achievements in her first term, and the fact that her main opponent, Doug Mann, has not been able to win any of the several school board races he's competed for.
However, on Aug. 7, Eli Kaplan announced he was launching a write-in campaign to challenge Bates in an email to the MPS Parents' Forum listserv.
"I went to the school board candidates forum on Mon Aug 6 and I was not impressed with any of them," Kaplan wrote, saying his wife and others had persuaded him to mount his challenge.
It's notoriously hard to win an election through a write-in candidacy, but Kaplan has a bit of a name-recognition advantage. By his count, he has 42 years of volunteer work, activism, and time spent on citizen advisory and budget committees in the Minneapolis Public Schools under his belt. On Wednesday afternoon, Kaplan posted a full list of his positions on various issues impacting the district on his blog. Kaplan's list focuses on "fiscal responsibility," "goal-setting," and transparency between the district, school board, and voters.
According to the Southwest Journal, Kaplan once supported Bates, but has since had a falling-out over the disbanding of a citizens' advisory committee he chaired.
Current at-large school board member Rebecca Gagnon is known to be close to Kaplan, but in an email to Patch, she said she has not decided whether or not to endorse his run.
Kaplan has many months to rally support—write-in candidates are not allowed on the primary ballot.