Voters in Minneapolis on Tuesday chose several new school board members who will be making weighty decisions for a district that has experienced a turbulent few years.
Collin Beachy finished first in the race for two at-large seats, earning a little more than 33% of votes. Sonya Emerick appeared to have won the other at-large seat, garnering 25.4% of votes to KerryJo Felder's 25.2% — a difference of 493 votes.
Lori Norvell won the seat representing southeast Minneapolis with a little more than 68% of the vote.
Fathia Feerayarre and Abdul Abdi also won their uncontested races for seats representing the central and northeast part of the district, respectively.
"I'm thrilled to have been elected," Emerick said Wednesday morning. "I'm feeling blessed and ready to get to work."
Emerick noted the existing board began working with candidates even before the election to get them ready for the work ahead.
"We're already in the trajectory of being onboarded to make sure we are ready to work on day one," Emerick said.
Eight candidates were on the ballot for the five open seats in the nonpartisan race. Four of them — Felder, Beachy, Feerayarre and Norvell — ran as a slate that received endorsements from the Minneapolis DFL and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.
While most of the candidates on the slate prevailed, Felder appeared to lose to Emerick in a very close race for an at-large seat. Last week, several people called for Felder to drop out of the contest over allegations of inappropriate behavior.
The newly-elected members will join nine-member board in January and serve for four years.
They will spend their first months leading the search for the district's next permanent superintendent, who will take the helm this summer when Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox's one-year term expires.
Board members will also be tasked with rebuilding community trust in the wake of a three-week teacher strike last spring. And they'll have to make decisions in light of steep enrollment declines, which are further straining a school district budget currently balanced with federal pandemic relief funds that will sunset in 2024.