Herald JournalHerald and Journal, Aug. 5, 2002

It takes 3 votes for HLWW board to appoint new member

By Lynda Jensen

An evenly numbered Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board deadlocked twice over what it considered to be two good candidates vying for one vacancy on the board.

The board voted 3-3 twice, before a final vote of 5-1 installed Allan Doering as a replacement for long-time board member Gene Lorentz who recently resigned.

The board considered both Doering and Rob Merritt of Howard Lake for the position.

After the first and second votes, members discussed the candidates in an attempt to break the split.

Board Member John Lideen indicated that he knew both candidates well, and was impressed with Doering because he was knowledgeable. Doering is also involved in sporting activities at Eden Prairie, he said.

Board Member Jim Fowler pointed out that Merritt participated in the last election as a school board candidate, and that this was noteworthy.

Board Member Charlie Borrell spoke on behalf of Merritt.

After the second tied vote, when it was clear the board was deadlocked, board members debated how to break the vote.

It was suggested to flip a coin, since this is done to break deadlocks in elections, although some objected to this idea.

Borrell pressed the board to hold a special election, although other board members objected to the expense and additional time it would take.

Board chairman Jim Raymond indicated that the board should, and could, make the appointment, according to the law.

Both candidates were interviewed with nine questions, which addressed why they wanted to be a board member, ideas on how an operating referendum would be passed (planned for 2003), the vision of the school district's future, and public perception, among other things.

During the interviewing process, Doering described himself as an open person who could accept different points of view. He feels that public education is worthwhile, when asked why he was applying for the position.

When asked about the district's vision, Doering alluded to the school's long-term facilities.

Doering pointed out that the library where they were meeting in was built in his senior year of high school. He will be attending a 25 year reunion soon, he said.

"I want to see this school district survive," Doering said ­ whether this meant building new facilities, or renovation, he said.

When asked about public perception, Doering indicated it was important to listen to issues that people have. He also referenced this in relation to passing a successful operating referendum, since any negative perceptions will impact this, he said.

Being open with the public and educating people about the issues is important, so that all the facts are given, Doering said.

Merritt also was interviewed by the board with the same questions.

He described himself as a person who was straightforward, aggressive and not status quo.

When asked why he was applying for the position, Merritt said he has three children in the district. "I want them to get the best possible education," he said.

Regarding the referendum, Merritt indicated it would be a "hard push," but that it would work.

As a vision, Merritt indicated the district's future was bright. He pointed to all the new residential developments in Waverly.

The district should come up with a plan to accommodate more students, he said. He was open to adding on or building new, when it came to site facilities.

"We must go forward. We can't just sit there," he said.

Regarding public perception, Merritt admitted there were negative feelings toward the district.

"Some people are still talking about the strike (in the 1980s). "You have to move on," he said.

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