Seven candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election for the Anoka-Hennepin School District school board in Minnesota on Nov. 7, 2023. Districts 1, 2, and 5 are up for election.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District covers both Anoka and Hennepin counties. The district had 38,230 students during the 2021-2022 school year. The school board has six members elected by district to four-year terms on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years.
Incumbent Erin Heers-McArdle and Linda Hoekman are running in District 1. Heers-McArdle is a fine art jeweler and metalsmith who was elected to the board in 2019. Heers-McArdle said she “want[s]to give our students, teachers, and staff the tools, resources, and support necessary to maintain a safe, inclusive environment that is welcoming to all. By building upon the gifts and talents of each student in our care, we help ensure their success.” Hoekman is a teacher at Champlin Park High School. Hoekman said, “I am committed to restoring excellence, freedom, and fairness to our schools by working with parents to ensure our children are protected from violence and politicized instruction.”
Zach Arco and Susan Witt are running in District 2. Arco works as a mechanical engineer. Arco said, “As a husband and father working as a Mechanical Engineer,” he “has a mind for diagnosing and solving problems, which is just what Anoka-Hennepin needs.” Witt is a retired elementary school teacher. Witt said, “I am running because just like I did in my classroom for more than 27 years, we need to lead with a ‘student first’ mentality and strive to create an environment where our students feel safe, welcome, and supported.”
Michelle Langenfeld, Scott Simmons, and Cyrus Wilson are running for District 5. Langenfield has worked as a teacher, dean, assistant principal, principal, and associate superintendent. Langenfield said, “I believe that every child being served in our schools is most deserving of equitable access to high-quality learning experiences; provided by exceptional educators in safe, caring, and supportive learning environments to prepare them well to succeed and thrive in the postsecondary pathway of their choice and beyond.”
Simmons is an attorney and substitute teacher. Simmons said, “I’m running because it’s time to put students first. The shortcomings of the system are real and have persisted for too long: failing test scores, an unacceptable achievement gap, unsafe classrooms, [and] teacher retention challenges.
Wilson is an IT manager. Wilson said, “My candidacy is driven by a forward-thinking vision for education, a deep commitment to our community’s growth, and an unwavering dedication to ensuring the success of each and every student.”
Before the filing period for school board elections opened on Aug. 1, 2023, several organizations had already endorsed slates of candidates. The Anoka-Hennepin chapter of the Education Minnesota (AHEM) teachers union endorsed Heers-McArdle, Kimball Newton (who did not run), and Langenfeld. The nonprofit Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance – which describes itself as promoting academic excellence, school safety, and “parental rights on political, religious, and moral issues” – endorsed Hoekman, Arco, and Simmons.