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KIMT News 3 speaks to Rochester school board seat 7 candidates

The incumbent Mark Schleusner and Dr. Jess Garcia will be on Rochester Public District voters' ballots, both vying for school board seat 7.

Posted: Oct 21, 2020 6:50 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 11:43 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Election night is less than two weeks away. The incumbent Mark Schleusner and Dr. Jess Garcia will be on Rochester Public District voters' ballots, both vying for school board seat 7.

Both candidates explain their motivation to run for the position.

"I've been extremely involved in the Rochester community for about 15 years now and being on the school board has helped me be in a role where I can have a great impact on the students in Rochester Public Schoools. Four years ago, when I ran for the first time, there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed such as transparency with the district, racial disparities, mental health issues. While those issues are better than they were, there's still a lot of work to be done in all of those places. I feel I'm in a good position having been through a term to be very effective in a second term," says Schleusner.

"I'm a product of a public school that didn't have a lot of the resources that they needed and I also grew up in a poor, working-class family in a low-income neighborhood and so I had some well-placed supports in place to get me where I am today and nearly 100% of those supports were teachers in the public school system," says Dr. Garcia. "I also am a clinical psychologist by training, so I'm licensed to practice in the state of Minnesota and I work for the Department of Human Services, and I wanted to be able to offer the expertise that I have in training. I do a lot of multicultural, intercultural, inclusive work not only personally, because of the work that I do, but also becoming a multicultural, very inclusive therapist. So I thought this is just work that I can offer my knowledge to the school district, as they seem to be struggling with not only being able to retain staff and educators of color, but also having issues in disciplinary disparities."

Schleusner and Garcia both name racial equity and mental health as two challenges the district is facing that they would prioritize if elected.

Schleusner says the the district needs to improve its transparency when it comes to the discipline numbers. During his first term, he says developing consistent reporting metrics was a priority. He explains that was achieved, but the pandemic disrupted it. He adds that working with the legislature to get more funding for the school, and keeping their costs low, would allow more room in the budget to keep staff dedicated to mental health and racial equity.

Dr. Garcia says she's hearing from parents and educators that the district needs to improve overall communication, reach deeper into the community when collecting feedback, and acknowledge existing racial inequity issues.

"At least in recent history, I would be the youngest, if not one of the youngest, the only queer identified or out candidate, the only woman of color elected to the board. There are a number of other things as well. I'm an intersectional human being, so there's a lot of things about me that I think haven't been on the board before and representation matters," says Dr. Garcia.

"The school board is responsible for supervision of the superintendent, we're responsible for approval of the school district's budget, and we're responsible for setting policy for the school district. I understand what those three very important items mean and I understand that if the school district is not moving in the direction that we as a community would like our school district to move, I know how to work within our system to move it in the direction it needs to go," says Schleusner.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 282916

Reported Deaths: 3359
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin605241095
Ramsey25467477
Anoka20172216
Dakota19573179
Washington12799108
Stearns1254793
Scott764754
St. Louis763197
Wright683036
Olmsted616033
Sherburne522339
Clay449655
Carver420912
Blue Earth379511
Rice377732
Kandiyohi365915
Crow Wing324131
Nobles298029
Chisago28838
Otter Tail273315
Benton269340
Winona251828
Mower239723
Polk230621
Douglas228929
Morrison215321
Lyon200011
McLeod19289
Beltrami190415
Goodhue180926
Becker178810
Steele17296
Itasca170524
Isanti170216
Todd167412
Carlton161310
Nicollet148223
Freeborn14195
Mille Lacs136530
Le Sueur135010
Waseca131811
Cass12368
Pine12216
Brown121110
Meeker11187
Roseau10143
Martin100620
Hubbard100022
Wabasha9351
Redwood82718
Dodge7980
Chippewa7907
Watonwan7884
Cottonwood7431
Renville73118
Sibley7224
Wadena7166
Aitkin69224
Rock6779
Pipestone67318
Houston6242
Fillmore6150
Yellow Medicine58211
Pennington5576
Murray5433
Kanabec54112
Swift5266
Pope4910
Faribault4901
Stevens4552
Clearwater4456
Marshall4377
Jackson4291
Lake3654
Unassigned35856
Koochiching3475
Wilkin3305
Lac qui Parle3213
Lincoln3171
Norman3166
Big Stone2801
Mahnomen2554
Grant2396
Red Lake1973
Kittson1876
Traverse1340
Lake of the Woods891
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 216579

Reported Deaths: 2240
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk32244325
Linn13583162
Scott1055981
Black Hawk10541131
Woodbury9984116
Johnson920835
Dubuque886590
Story656619
Dallas611456
Pottawattamie589167
Sioux356425
Webster345831
Marshall339244
Cerro Gordo332342
Clinton312337
Buena Vista293514
Muscatine273968
Des Moines270616
Warren264810
Plymouth261938
Wapello244071
Jones225313
Jasper208440
Marion196719
Carroll192621
Lee191716
Bremer187212
Henry17257
Crawford170715
Benton162716
Tama149440
Jackson138511
Delaware137221
Washington135813
Boone130711
Dickinson128510
Mahaska123427
Wright11835
Buchanan11249
Clay10964
Hardin109310
Page10854
Hamilton10477
Clayton10455
Harrison102428
Calhoun10237
Cedar102213
Fayette10008
Mills9977
Floyd98614
Lyon9858
Kossuth9675
Poweshiek95512
Butler9375
Winneshiek91510
Iowa89611
Winnebago88023
Louisa82316
Hancock8217
Grundy81711
Sac8077
Chickasaw8014
Cherokee7814
Cass77221
Appanoose7509
Shelby7346
Allamakee73211
Guthrie72415
Humboldt7205
Mitchell7204
Union7166
Emmet71424
Franklin68820
Madison6614
Jefferson6441
Palo Alto6114
Unassigned5961
Keokuk5537
Pocahontas5442
Howard5089
Greene5070
Osceola5031
Clarke4644
Ida45510
Davis4415
Taylor4352
Montgomery43410
Monroe43112
Adair4218
Monona4032
Fremont3483
Van Buren3434
Worth3410
Lucas3166
Decatur3070
Wayne2896
Audubon2841
Ringgold1902
Adams1551
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