Here are the candidates running for Mankato Area Public School Board

The period to file a candidacy for the Mankato Area Public School Board has expired.

Four seats are up for election in November. Three of those spots are for four-year terms. The other is a two-year term left from the resignation of board member Darren Wacker.  His spot was filled by Bukata Hayes, who also resigned after moving to the Twin Cities.  Shannon Sinning has been appointed to the seat and will finish out the remainder of the year.  A new member will be elected in November and seated in January.

Eight candidates have filed for four-year terms.  They include:

Jamie Aanenson – Aanenson, from North Mankato, is an IT Director with three children in the district.  He serves on the Educare board and ran for the board in 2020. Aanenson says he wants to bring management and leadership expertise to the board.

Patrick Baker – Baker, of Mankato, was appointed in June to replace Kenneth Reid on the school board. He is a longtime Mankato resident and the Government Relations Director for Western Governors University.  His spouse is a teacher at Mankato West and he has two daughters that will be in the school system in the near future.  Baker says he believes great schools make great communities.

Darren Kern – Kern, of North Mankato, is employed by Le Sueur-Henderson Schools as an elementary school principal.  He began his teaching career over 28 years ago. He has two grown children.  He says he wants to join the school board because he is an advocate for children.

Kari Pratt – Pratt, of Mankato, was an ISD 77 teacher for 13 years.  She currently has two children in the school district.  She says she believes a teacher’s voice is needed on the school board.  She also believes the community needs to have difficult conversations about the challenges schools are facing.

Jodi Sapp –  Sapp, of Mankato, is the current board chair.  She is employed at Harry Meyering Center.  Her two children attended ISD 77. Sapp says she believes public education is the cornerstone of democracy and schools are important to the vitality of the community.

Shannon Sinning – Sinning, of Mankato, is currently serving on the board. He grew up near Mapleton and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus.  Sinning has two children in the district and a preschool child.  Sinning believes ISD 77 needs to reverse its declining enrollment and encourage a safe learning environment.

Brianne Vogt – Vogt, of North Mankato, is employed by Shipt & Instacart.  She has one child in the school district. Vogt said she sees a stark difference in the school system from five years ago and she believes the district can do better for the students, teachers, and parents.

Crystal Wells – Wells, from Madison Lake, is a full-time mother and student.  Wells has one child in the district.  She says she finds children to be an “absolute joy” and the future, and she wants to help them get there successfully.

Three candidates have filed for the two-year term.  They are:

Joel Hollerich – Hollerich, from Madison Lake, has four children in the district. He says he would like to be a voice for the people of the district and to help make sure that the best school experience can be available for the full range of students.  He feels he can have a good working relationship with students, parents, and staff.

Ernest Neilsen – Neilsen, of Mankato, was a West Point graduate and U.S. Army officer.  Neilson says he wants to run for the school board to support teachers, staff, parents, and students.  He believes in integrating schools with the local community and businesses, and he supports the integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

Kristin Schuck – Schuck, of Mankato, has served on the MAPS board since 2009.  She said she believes thriving communities are the result of engaged, caring citizens who have a sense of purpose that is greater than their own, and she possesses that purpose.


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