15 candidates register to run for 5 seats on Fargo School Board

C.S. Hagen

Apr 11, 2022

The deadline for registering to run in the June 14 election for the Fargo Public Schools Board of Education passed at 4 p.m. Monday. The 15 candidate names were put in a random order for the ballot and sent to the county auditor.

NEWS | FARGO 15 candidates register to run for 5 seats on Fargo School Board The deadline for registering to run in the June 14 election for the Fargo Public Schools Board of Education passed at 4 p.m. Monday. The 15 candidate names were put in a random order for the ballot and sent to the county auditor.

Fargo resident Zac Echola registers to enter the June election for a seat on the Fargo School Board on Monday, April 11, 2022.C.S. Hagen / The Forum By C.S. Hagen April 11, 2022 05:56 PM FARGO — Many of the 15 candidates involved in the race for five seats on the Fargo School Board say politics and schools shouldn't mix, but a handful of candidates representing conservative views now face a challenge from the political left. This year, more candidates signed up to run than in the last two elections. In 2018, the district saw 10 candidates, and in 2020 there were 13 candidates, said AnnMarie Campbell, district spokeswoman. The deadline for registering to run in the June 14 election for the Fargo Public Schools Board of Education passed at 4 p.m. Monday. Candidate names were put in a random order for the ballot and sent to the county auditor, Campbell said. Deven Styczynski answers an audience question during a panel debate for Fargo and West Fargo school board election on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at the Fargo Holiday Inn.Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum On one side of the political spectrum, there are candidates like Deven Styczynski, who called issues like furries, or students dressing up as cats in class, “revisionist Marxist nonsense” that reinforces “degeneracy and shouldn’t be tolerated at all,” during an April 6 Cass County United Republican Committee panel with other school board candidates. Those views, as well as failed efforts to recall board members last year, spurred Fargo resident Zac Echola, a socialist and local union officer, to run because he is “frustrated that it is only far right candidates with a few exceptions” involved in the race. ADVERTISEMENT Zac EcholaBy C.S. Hagen/ The Forum “I think people are being disingenuous when they say politics should be left out of the conversation about schools. All politics is a contest over resources. There are issues that matter and issues that don’t. An issue that matters is how we prioritize the budget, where does money get spent?” said Echola, whose daughter attends Fargo Public Schools. Styczynski, a working dad from north Fargo and the founder and chairman of the North Dakota Heritage Party, said the district budget needs to be restructured, and he would start by eliminating monthly stipends for board members. “I don’t need that $1,000 a month. That’s not why I am here, and that money can go a long way if you put it back into the classroom,” he said at the April 6 panel. Other candidates in the crowded field are: Alexis Scott, of Fargo, announced her candidacy for the Fargo School Board.Special to The Forum

  • Alexis Scott , a mother of four children and a workforce development consultant, was involved in the Recall Fargo School Board group, which failed after thousands of signatures were considered invalid.

Allie Ollenburger.Submitted photo

  • Allie Ollenburger, a mother of two children and an engineering director at Microsoft, is running to bring the school board together and to hold decision-makers accountable. Ollenburger was an organizer of the Recall Fargo School Board effort last summer. Brian NelsonSpecial to The Forum

  • Brian Nelson, an incumbent, is a superintendent at Rosholt Public Schools in South Dakota and also at Fairmount Public School in North Dakota, but he lives in Fargo.

David Paulson

  • David Paulson, an incumbent, was the first board member to register to run this year for his third and final term. He is a retired teacher currently working for a retail sporting goods store.

  • Greg Clark, a Sanford data analyst and teacher's husband is running to address educator burnout, improve retention rates and address declining mental health in young people.

Katie Christensen.Submitted photo

  • Katie Christensen , is a mother of two children in Fargo Public Schools and state director for Planned Parenthood North Central States.

Katie KelshSpecial to The Forum

  • Katie Kelsh, a realtor with Park Co. Realtors, has two children in Fargo Public Schools and is especially concerned with school boundary issues.

Kristin Sharbono speaks to the crowd during a panel debate for Fargo and West Fargo school board election on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at the Fargo Holiday Inn.Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

  • Kristin Sharbono, is a licensed clinical counselor with five children. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Sharbono frequently spoke during school board meetings against the mask mandate , at one time comparing the loss of “God-given rights and the freedoms that our ancestors fought for” to “Nazi Germany.”

Lyn TelfordSpecial to The Forum

  • Lyn Telford, a mother of two and a registered nurse, plans to focus on building relationships between staff and students, which will help retain educators and increase students' success, she said in a press release.

Melissa BurklandSpecial to The Forum

  • Melissa Burkland, local attorney and mother of two children in Fargo Public Schools, said in a press release that she was also the elementary parent representative on the COVID Instructional Committee for the district and is a diversity and inclusion committee member for The Arts Partnership.

Nyamal DeiSpecial to The Forum

  • Nyamal Dei, founder and executive director of Kondial Kel International, is employed by Clay County Public Health in Moorhead. She has one daughter who attends Fargo Public Schools.

Rebecca Knutson.Submitted photo

  • Rebecca Knutson, the current board president, said she’s running again because she has the “experience necessary to move initiatives forward with a balanced approach.”

Robin Nelson.Submitted photo

  • Robin Nelson, an incumbent and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Red River Valley, is running for her second consecutive term.

Current board member Jennifer Benson announced last week she would run for Fargo City Commission .