Four candidates for four open seats on the St. Paul school board have been endorsed by the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Here are brief profiles of the candidates that appeared in The Union Advocate’s Election Guide in advance of the Nov. 3 election.
• Union background: Former member, Bakery Workers Local 22. Her husband is a Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) trustee.
• Best teacher she’s ever had: Ms. Betty Richardson, high-school English. “She wouldn’t let me get away with doing anything halfway, she challenged me and she introduced me to authors that I had never heard of,” Ellis said. “We had great conversations about books, and she made me feel like I was the smartest person in the room. I adored her and appreciated that nudge that she gave me to work hard.”
• On what it means to be labor endorsed: “It says to me that the vision of success, growth and empowerment that I have for all students of the St. Paul schools is supported by the men and women of this city who would like to see their children reach those same goals. Labor continues to be the backbone of our country, and it is wonderful knowing that the message I conveyed during this campaign is resonating with those who are connected and not connected with unions.”
• Union background: Former AFSCME member while living in New York.
• Best teacher he’s ever had: Judy Alcaly, sixth grade. “She was originally from England and brought a whole different approach to how she taught,” Marchese said. “She gave me the opportunity to learn more about the world and a chance to do creative projects, like plan a lesson or do a radio broadcast of world events. She was creative, thoughtful and sophisticated in her approach.”
• On what it means to be labor endorsed: “As the son of a long-time Teamsters truck driver, I am very proud to have labor support. I know what unions have done for my family, enabling my father to make a living wage to provide for us.
“People coming together to work for a common goal is what has motivated my campaign for school board. This is the work unions do every day. We need to think about the community and how we support the workers who both work in our schools and send their children to our schools.”
• Union background: Member, SAG/AFTRA – Twin Cities Local, 30 years
• Best teacher he’s ever had: Ms. DeSart, junior-high French. “She brought joy, energy and clarity while challenging us to think and travel outside of our own cultures,” Schumacher said.
• On what it means to be labor endorsed: “Community is the core of everything we do. Building community around our public schools is critical to their success. Unions represent the best of community. They guarantee living-wage jobs and working conditions that give their members and families stability. That allows them to contribute to our communities with their time, talent and financial support.
“Receiving labor endorsements means that I can continue to build relationships with these strong and engaged community members to find ways to make our schools pathways to success for all our kids.”
• Union background: Former member, AFSCME and MAPE.
• Best teacher she’s ever had: Bill Albrecht, third and fourth grades. “Because it was a very small school in a very small rural community, we could do frequent field trips to explore in nature,” Vanderwert said. “We seined for fish, hunted for arrow heads, had sledding outings and played soccer before school in the back yard. He showed me that learning was exciting, that nature was so very interesting and that we need to combine fun and music with whatever we do to keep our energy up. We learned the academic basics we needed but so much more about life and the world.”
• On what it means to be labor endorsed: “Unions have made our country productive, innovative, just and safe. In this time of anti-union rhetoric, we need to remember that our workers are the backbone of our economy and most of them parents of the children in our schools. They must be treated with respect and their work valued with fair wages. I have been impressed with the willingness of our unions to work not only in our schools but with our schools to provide opportunities for students to explore careers in the Trades. I hope we can work together to help our students with interest to be able to gain the skills they need to move into the higher education or other training they need to be active workers and members of the unions that will move our community forward.”