Rochester Public School Board Candidates on upcoming race

(ABC 6 News) – Ahead of the August 9 Minnesota Primary, candidates vying turning out to be a highly contested and increasingly partisan race to fill several seats on the nonpartisan Rochester Public School.

"This is not your normal school board election. This is not a sleepy school board election where the consequences don’t matter. There could be grave consequences this time," said Position 2 candidate Justin Cook.

"We have had some activists that are trying to inject a certain point of view," said Position 6 incumbent Cathy Nathan.

Nathan and Cook are referencing three candidates campaigning on a platform called "4 Your Children."

"People are very unhappy with the kinds of things being brought forth into the schools. They’re unhappy with the politics in the schools," said Rae Parker, part of 4 Your Children and candidate for Position 2.

These three conservative candidates are Parker, Elena Niehoff, and Kim Rishavy.

"Someone has to speak up for the kids. They can’t do it themselves," Rishavy said.

The trio is outspoken against current equity policies and claims the current school board lacks transparency in spending.

"That criticism, I think, is unfortunately based on misinformation," said Nathan.

Candidate Patrick Farmer is running against Nathan for position 6. Farmer, like the 4 Your Children trio, says he feels unheard by the current school board.

"I’ve seen the outrage of parents over masking. Parents wanted the masking to stop so that the kids would go back to school, and stay in school," Farmer said.

Abdullahi Yusuf, for position 2, took a lighter stance against the current school board. He instead focused on encouraging distraction-free schools.

"Making sure students have the ability to learn, and to keep politics out of children’s education," Yusuf said.

Position 5 candidate A. Mohamed "Chief" says politicizing the school board will not prepare students to be the leaders of tomorrow.

"We are here to perform grooming for tomorrow’s leadership and education. Leave the rest of the religion, and moral culture to the parents responsibility," Mohamed said.

Current school board Chair Dr, Jean Marvin is the 9th candidate, and she did not respond to ABC 6’s request for an interview Friday.

More information about school board candidates can be found here.