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McFeely: Another face plant for Fargo's radical school board wannabes

Candidates favored by the right wing go 0 for 5 on election night

Allie Ollenburger, an organizer with the Recall Fargo School Board group, stands with others to announce the group has procured enough signatures to begin the process of a special election on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.
Allie Ollenburger, Alexis Scott and other like-minded candidates all lost their bids at winning seats on the Fargo School Board.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum
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FARGO — I spent a few vacation days listening to loons in Minnesota lakes country and returned home to learn I don't have to listen to loons on the Fargo School Board. This is a win-win.

The radical right-wing candidates face-planted again in their quest to take over public education in Fargo, following up an incompetent recall attempt with an 0-for-5 showing in Tuesday's election.

The book burnings will have to wait.

Allie Ollenburger, Alexis Scott, Deven Styczynski, Kristin Sharbono and incumbent David Paulson all lost. In bonus defeats, current radical school board member Jennifer Benson and fellow right-winger Jodi Plecity lost in their bids for city commission.

Must've been a tough watch party.

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Turnout was abysmal, as it usually is for June elections, but those voters who showed up soundly rejected the Scott Hennen-endorsed "AADDS" candidates . The national movement to have radical right-wingers take over school boards to combat the "woke agenda" (whatever that is) and "critical race theory" (which is not being taught) hit a brick wall in Fargo.

Take a bow, Fargo. You did good.

That's not to say voters went with the status quo. Only one of four incumbents on the ballot, Robin Nelson, was re-elected. Board president Rebecca Knutson got the boot. People wanted change, just not the change the radicals were offering.

The Fargo Education Association got what it wanted with its endorsements — fresh meat on the school board. Makes negotiations easier.

Ollenburger and Scott spearheaded the recall of four school board members in 2021 mostly over the district's COVID mask mandate. The recall never got on the ballot because more than 6,000 petition signatures were deemed invalid, an elite level of ineptitude.

There's a chance voters remembered the recall belly flop and said, "Hmmm. If Allie and Alexis are that incompetent, maybe we don't want them running our schools."

It's likely the AADDS candidates are spending the election aftermath blaming the media or uninformed voters or low turnout or anything but themselves for failing to win even one seat. It's always somebody else's fault with these freedom-loving patriots, you see. Forever the victims.

What they could do is blame their extremist stances, which clearly are not in line with a majority of voters. Or they could reflect that their anger and mean-spirited treatment of the superintendent, current board members and anybody who disagrees with them is a turn-off. Or they could realize not everybody is as obsessed with mask mandates and other COVID measures as they were.

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That, however, would require self-reflection and the admission that others outside their Facebook bubble have valid opinions, too. That ain't happening with this crew.

Voters saw these people for who they are: Agents of chaos who don't actually want to make things better, but want to take down the school system from within.

There's another school board election in two years and we'll see Allie, Alexis and Co. again. Hopefully Fargo voters get it right again.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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