Who Won and Why
1999 Duluth School Board Election Results
Harry Welty 3,384 - 56% vs. Pauline Nuhring 2,708 votes - 44%
The image above was one of my billboards. As you can see I did not shrink from highlighting my whimsical inclinations. This same image graced most of my literature. I got elected the old fashioned way with shoe leather, leaflets, and advertising. This web page played no part in my victory. In fact, I stopped updating my web site about two months before the election because, as of Aug. 31, I only had 484 hits. They accumulated over four months on the internet and one third of those hits were from me.
A divided school board can be an unpleasant place. Unlike a legislature where two party leadership has had time to evolve a formal protocol to formalize disagreements, a school board is so small and intimate an organization that political divisions can more easily become personal. That is what had happened by mid-Summer at which time I abandoned my web page and poured my energy into electing my friends and allies. I had originally hoped this would not be the case. Over the Spring I joined a message board of school board members from across the nation. One person on this message board plaintively asked what she could do about members of her board who were wrong headed. Another board member advised her that: "your only recourse is to work towards the election of more like-minded school board members." I felt this was a perilous suggestion to give another board member and sent in my own email message which detailed the divisions on the Duluth Board.
These are not the first divisions on the Duluth School Board. In 1989 Mike Maxim ran for the school board and won. I was among the candidates he beat. Several sitting school board members, joined by the School's Superintendent, met with our local newspaper's editorial board and begged them to take back their endorsement of Mr. Maxim. The paper refused. Two years later most of these Board members were defeated. In their case, working for more "like-minded" members backfired.
After the filings for office closed this June it became apparent that the majority of the board (of which I am a member) would become the minority. This was assured because one of the retiring members of that majority was a district representative, Tim Grover. The only serious candidate to file for his seat was an ally of the minority. I resigned myself to my fate and hoped that the members poised to become that new majority would not actively work to unseat me. That, however, is precisely what they attempted to do. My reaction was simple. I decided they would take control of the Duluth School Board "over my dead body."
Had I not worked feverishly up until the election, I might very well have been defeated. In fact, the new board could have ended up a being 9-0 board. My actions helped hold back my rivals to a 6-3 majority. Although, Frank Wanner, the teacher's union President, sent me a congratulatory letter on my reelection he gave away his true feelings when he told wrote to his membership: "We now have six members who are friendly." Obviously, Mr. Wanner regards me as "unfriendly." I'm not surprised. Shortly before I was seated four years ago Mr. Wanner announced to several hundred teachers that: "Harry Welty will be no friend of teachers."
What will eventually follow is a recap of the election and the part I played in it.
(I don't know when I will finish. As time passed it gets harder and harder for me to return to this. Keep checking. I'll finish God willing.)
School Board Member Profiles. Whose who on the 5-4 School Board?r 7. Harry Welty is too sharp. 8. Put Children First
Chapter 9. Christmas in January. 0. 2001?.
The following subchapters are interesting reading in and of themselves.