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Field set for Willmar School Board elections in November

Five Willmar School Board candidates are running for three four-year terms on the board in the Nov. 8 election.

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A file photo of the Willmar Public Schools sign at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, where the administration offices are located.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Candidates for Willmar School Board have a variety of backgrounds and reasons for running for office.

The five candidates are competing for three four-year terms on the Willmar School Board.

The election is Nov. 8, but voters can begin casting their ballots by mail or in person beginning Sept. 23.

The field includes two people new to school elections and three incumbents.

The candidates are Mary Amon, Steve Biesterfeld, Randy Frederickson, Jay Lawton and Laura Weatherby.

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Mary Amon, Willmar School Board candidate
Mary Amon, Willmar School Board candidate

Mary Amon

Amon, 57, of Willmar, is a physician at CentraCare — Willmar Lakeland Clinic. She was first elected in a special election in 2017 and elected to a full term in 2018. She said she decided to run to see through some of the board’s initiatives.

“We have done a lot of work over the last two years, and I would like to see that come to fruition,” she said. New initiatives include a new way of evaluating employees and a standards-based instruction plan.

Steve Biesterfeld, Willmar School Board candidate
Steve Biesterfeld, Willmar School Board candidate

Steve Biesterfeld

Biesterfeld, 48, of Willmar, is a supervisor at Prairie Lakes Youth Programs. He said he is running because he feels the young people he sees at work have been failed by families and schools.

His concerns include students’ knowledge of history, English and reading, he said. “I wanted to see what the curriculum is really about and see if there’s some input I could have that would help them,” he said.

Randy Frederickson, Willmar School Board candidate
Randy Frederickson, Willmar School Board candidate

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Randy Frederickson

Frederickson, who declined to give his age, of Willmar, is retired from a 32-year-career teaching science at Willmar Middle School. He works part-time at the Wild Bird Warehouse in Willmar. He was elected in a special election in 2021 and is running for his first full term.

Frederickson said he feels he learned a lot in the last year and would like to continue to serve. Teaching experience “gives me a perspective” that others might not have, he said.

Jay Lawton, Willmar School Board candidate
Jay Lawton, Willmar School Board candidate

Jay Lawton

Lawton, 64, of Willmar, works in inventory control and logistics at Jennie-O Turkey Store. He said he ran because he has enjoyed serving on the board and hopes to provide consistency with big decisions coming up.

A middle school addition is currently on hold, and “there’s a lot going on with the pandemic money running out,” he said.

Laura Weatherby, Willmar School Board candidate
Laura Weatherby, Willmar School Board candidate

Laura Weatherby

Weatherby, 52, of Willmar, is a psychologist at Life Seasons in Willmar. Weatherby said she filed because two of her three children are Willmar students, and she wanted to get involved in the district.

She said she doesn’t have complaints about how the board currently operates and said, “I want to help keep things working.”

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In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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