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WDC School Board candidate guide

Four Wadena residents are running for three spots on Wadena-Deer Creek's School Board up for election Nov. 8.

Ryan Damlo, Vince Hinojos, Dan Lawson and incumbent Kent Schmidt, all of Wadena, are running for seats. Board members Peter Hayes and Stephen Techam decided to step down and not run again. They've both been on the board since 2008.

Ryan Damlo

Employment: Transit director at Wadena County Friendly Rider and Becker County Transit.

Public office experience: None elected. I am an appointed commissioner for the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

What do you want to accomplish if elected? A priority of mine would be to provide resources and tools for our teachers and staff, while working within our budget. I want to ensure that our great staff has what it needs to provide our students with the best education in preparation for the world after WDC.

Specifically, how would you accomplish your goals? I would help accomplish this vision by working with our teachers, staff and superintendent through committees and meetings. They are the experts and should have a voice in the decisions that are made to impact our children. Focusing on retaining top teachers and staff along with continuing to grow enrollment will also be a priority. We have such great schools and educational programs along with very supportive communities and I hope to be a bridge and voice between the two. I have enjoyed spending many years being an engaged community member and speaking up for our strengths.

What abilities or qualifications separate you from your competition? I'm passionate and dedicated to our school district and communities as I have two young children who are growing up Wolverines. I have a four-year degree in business management. I know that working together with the board and superintendent will be vital in making sure our school district remains successful and fiscally responsible. Daily, I work with federal, state and local funds as well as budgets, personnel, and community engagement. I work hard to be an educated and informed board member for boards I serve on and would love to bring that energy and enthusiasm to the school board.

Vince Hinojos

Employment: Network Administrator at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena. I have been employed by TCHC for 11 years

Public office experience: None

What do you want to accomplish if elected? I would like to help the current WDC education system continue to produce WDC graduates that are prepared for life after high school, while ensuring that their experience at WDC is a safe and enjoyable one.

Specifically, how would you accomplish your goals? I look forward to working with administration to see that our students have the prerequisite life skills that are necessary to enter four-year college programs, two-year programs or joining the workforce.

What abilities or qualifications separate you from your competition? I've worked with teachers as a parent with WDC for over 14 years. I have a daughter that is recent WDC graduate (2015) and now a student at University of Minnesota (Minneapolis). I have two children that are currently students at WDC involved in various fine arts, academic and sport related activities. These valuable activities allow for active interactions with teachers, coaches and administration, as well as many other students. I have mentored the Robotics Team, taught Lego Robotics, coached seventh and eighth grade boys basketball and chaperoned class trips to our State Capital. I am currently President of the WDC Education Foundation. I serve as a CyberCafe Board Member where we strive to provide a safe place for area youth to access the internet for free, and a healthy environment to hang out with their peers. I have served as a group leader in our church youth group and have served as President of Wadena Lions (2015-2016).

Dan Lawson

Employment: Manager/salesman for Drywall Supply Inc.

Public office experience: None elected.

What do you want to accomplish if elected? My main goal would be to develop a solution to the number of students within our district that choose to be open enrolled in other schools.

Specifically, how would you accomplish your goals? Firstly, by creating a welcoming atmosphere for young families or families that are new to the Wadena-Deer Creek area. I would like to create a committee that would visit with all of the families that have chosen to open enroll in other districts and see if we can come up with a common reason why another district was chosen over WDC. We need to make sure that any questions or concerns about our schools and staff are answered.

What abilities or qualifications separate you from your competition? I consider myself to be an easily approachable person. I am loyal, I have worked for the same company for 25 years. I am very involved in the WDC elementary wrestling program and have served on the WDC wrestling booster club for 15 years, five years as the treasurer. My ties to WDC are strong as both my wife and I are WDC graduates, as well as our three grown children. We now have three grandchildren who will be Wolverines.

Kent Schmidt

Employment: Stay-at-home dad; substitute teacher and tutor; former chemist for the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Environmental Protection Agency.

Public Office experience: Four years Wadena-Deer Creek School Board.

What do you want to accomplish if elected? To move Wadena-Deer Creek school forward by doing what is best for our students. To do this we need a clear vision for future district goals. Be open and communicate with the community. Also, collaborate with the other school board members and to incorporate a balanced budget.

Specifically, how would you accomplish your goals? I would focus on our students. I would be involved in initiating and implementing policies that help every student and promote college readiness so all students can prepare for their futures. I plan to keep an open dialogue with the public and keep them well informed. I would be a part of a productive school board, so all the issues can be heard and future visions met. Lastly, but very importantly, I would pay attention to the fiscal health of our district and not overspend.

What abilities or qualifications separate you from your competition? Why are you the best candidate for the job? I have lived in the district for 17 years. I am the parent of four children in the school system, so I have a vested interest in our schools future. I have four years of WDC school board experience; director, treasurer and vice-chair. I have attended every school board meeting, numerous committee meetings and believe I am easily approachable to discuss school board agenda items. I volunteer on several other boards/committees, including WDC elementary PTO, and am active in promoting the success of our community. I am committed to continue working hard for you, the district and the community.

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