James Kelso, an arch-conservative who advocates racial purity and hosts a radio program called The Trump Phenomenon, failed Tuesday to win a seat on the Grand Forks, N.D., school board.
Kelso, who finished eighth among nine candidates seeking one of the five at-large seats, did not respond Wednesday to a message seeking comment. He said in a recent interview, however, that a loss would not stop him from running for public office, perhaps for the school board again or for the Grand Forks City Council.
The 69-year-old, who has two children attending school in the district, received 1,001 votes out of 23,020 cast, according to unofficial results from the North Dakota Secretary of State.
Some in Grand Forks have described Kelso, a director of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, as a polarizing figure in the 7,400-student district.
In a region where immigrant growth surged by nearly 30 percent from 2010 to 2015 — nearly 9,000 immigrants live in the area according to research by the New American Economy — Kelso said he'd push to stop spending money on immigrant, refugee and related diversity programs.
"I would not be a good school board candidate for the refugee community," he said flatly before the election. "I would not be a good school board member for the immigrant population in Grand Forks."
That attitude alarmed some people in the Red River Valley city of 57,000 residents, which joined the pro-immigrant Welcoming America network in 2015 and adopted a formal "inclusion resolution" in December to underscore its commitment to equal rights.
Brittney Christy, a 32-year-old doctoral student in English studies at the University of North Dakota, tweeted Wednesday that "White Nationalist James Kelso did not get elected to the GF school board, but 1,000 people voted for him.
"Be awake and be aware, these people are your neighbors."
Dan Browning • 612-673-4493