Vote for the Bloomington School Referendum

referendum-2.jpgRic Oliva is the Republican chair of Bloomington Precinct 23.  He is also the chair of the Bloomington School Board.  We asked him why he personally supports the Bloomington operating referendum that will be up for a vote this November.  He made clear that he is not allowed to advocate for or against ballot questions in an official capacity as School Board Chair and cannot speaking on behalf of the Bloomington School Board or Bloomington School District.  The following are his own opinions, representing the facts “to the best of my knowledge.

In November the Bloomington School Board will be asking voters to approve an operating referendum that would replace the current referendum and increase funding by approximately $465 per pupil per year for the next ten years. The state legislature caps the per pupil funding amount and length of operating referenda. If approved, the district would receive the maximum amount allowed for the next ten years, giving Bloomington Public Schools the greatest opportunity to maintain its excellent programming. In 2007 the voters approved what was then the maximum amount, and the District is asking for their support again.

An increase is necessary to bridge the gap between what we receive from the State in funding and our increase in expenses. The Bloomington Public School (BPS) District receives approximately 70% of its funding from the State.  While the state typically gives a 1-2% increase to the funding formula each year, that increase does not keep up with inflation. The state did increase their school funding formula to 2% this year, but this still resulted in only a 1.4% increase relative to the BPS District budget.

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Larry Frost for Bloomington City Council - Introduction

Larry Frost, candidate for Bloomington City Council, provide this brief introduction and summary key issues.

Larry and his wife built their dream house in Bloomington and moved in five days  before 911.  For the next two years, Larry was rarely home because he was stationed at Fort McCoy, responsible for ensuring that Reserve and Guard units mobilized for war were as ready for combat as humanly possible.

Larry retired from the Army in 2004 after 27 years in the Marines and Army. He served as an enlisted man and Non-Commissioned officer in in both services, and was commissioned in the Army. He served in the Infantry and Air Defense Artillery, but most of his career was spent as a military intelligence officer.

After retirement, Larry attended the University of St. Thomas Law school, graduating in 2009.   His earlier education included the army Command And General Staff College as a resident, something only about 5% of officers are allowed to do. His undergraduate degree is in Strategy.

Larry has served on the Minneapolis Civil Service Board;  the Bloomington Schools Curriculum committee (5 years, and one as chair). He currently serves as the Federal Legislative Liaison for the Military Officers Association of Minnesota. He volunteered for the Bloomington Human Rights Commission this year, but was not selected by the current City Council.  Larry’s law practice includes pro bono (free) representation of active duty, reserve and retired military in a variety of matters.

Larry has been married to Anita for almost twenty-three years. Both his boys attended Bloomington schools K-12;  his youngest son is a senior this year, his oldest boy is a junior in mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

Campaign Issues :

Hyland Park:  I don’t have any position on whether the park remains a golf course or is used for some other park purpose, but I adamantly oppose selling any green space in Bloomington. It is not replaceable. Selling land for even a large price is short-sighted.

Minnesota River Paved Trail:  The idea of paving the Minnesota river bottom is just plain silly.  Doesn’t the Council know if floods, often 20’ deep, every year?  Asphalt paving will be washed away, and collected oil from use will soak into the river.

Rule of Law:  The City Council has put Bloomington at hazard by remarkably favoring some land users over others.   This can lead to lawsuits and expensive Federal penalties.   Our city government should treat everyone by the same rule of law.

Governance:   The Council needs to get its information from a much more robust system that doesn’t depend only on senior paid staff.  If I am elected, I will push immediately to have a formal representative from city workers attend Council meetings.  I value our professional city staff – but I value all of them, not just the highly paid senior staff. As a councilmember I want to hear from the rank and file workers, in a way that does not subject them to retaliation.


Beth Beebe for Bloomington School Board - Introduction

Beth_Portrait_002.jpegBeth Beebe, candidate for Bloomington School Board, provided this brief introduction and summary key issues.

Her campaign website is

My educational background experiences and perspective,  my investment in families and the community,  bring relevant expertise to the school board.

Married to John for 27 years

Bloomington resident for 17 years.

Have two grown sons who attended Bloomington Schools

Have 15 years of classroom teaching experience Preschool thru Jr. High

Parent Educator - Spoken to 50 +  Mother's of Preschoolers (MOPS) groups

Lived in Japan for 3 years as an English Teacher

Involved in the Bloomington Community as a Neighborhood Watch Block Captain, Election Judge, Premarital Counselor and Marriage Mentor with my husband, and working with At-Risk Children and Families.

Education - Bachelors in Social Work                                 Bethel University

                  Bachelors in Elementary Education                  San Jose State University         



  • Math and Reading scores remain around 54% of students at grade level, unchanged year after year. 
  • With emphasis on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) methods and curriculum need to be changed. 


  • Families are leaving Bloomington schools for other options  They state they are not satisfied with the curriculum, classroom discipline, and handling of bullying issues among other things.
  • Funding is tied to enrollment, the district needs more funding, therefore the district needs to attract families back to the district through innovative changes that address reasons families have left.


  • Host Job and Career Fairs with area employers  outlining requirements for jobs.
  • Expose students to opportunities in the trade fields that will increase as 35% of the workforce will retire by 2020.  Students with hands on abilities need to be encouraged to pursue these jobs.
  • Build relationships with corporations that can provide entry level jobs and provide training and scholarships for employees toward a degree.
  • Encourage dual enrollment in current Bloomington programs and add new career fields to current Criminal Justice, Cosmetology, and Automotive Mechanics programs. 



Bloomington Primary Results

Fewer than 7% of Bloomington’s 55,602 registered voters  (3685 of 55,602) took part in the August 8 primary election that determined which City Council candidates will appear on our November ballot. 

Eldon_Spencer_for_Aug_14.jpgCongratulations to Eldon Spencer for his decisive (41%) first-place finish for District II.  He’ll face Shawn Nelson (23%) in November.  Lower votes for the other 2 candidates – Cheryl Lewis (15%) and Lenny Klevan Schmitz (21%) - ended their campaigns.

For the At-Large seat, Nathan Coulter (35%) and Michael Arulfo (25%) will compete in November. 

-       Nathan Coulter is a DFL Legislative Assistant in the MN Senate

-       Mike Arulfo was a National Pledged Delegate at Large, Democratic National Committee and delegate to the DNC National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016

Appointed incumbent Kim Vlaisavljevich (18%) and life-long Bloomington resident Susan "Hofmeister" Woodruff (22%) will not be on November’s ballot.

To see the vote counts and to drill down for results by Precinct, see the MN Secretary of State Election Results page. Click Here

Voter Info - Candidates for Bloomington City Council Answer Questions

Your_Vote_Counts_Button.jpgFour candidates will be on the August 8 Primary ballot for one “At Large” seat in the race for Bloomington City Council, and an additional four candidates are seeking the District 2 seat. The top 2 vote-getters in each race will move on to the November election.

To learn more about them and how they stand on some of the current issues facing the city, we asked the candidates to answer a few questions and to add any other comments they felt would help us to better understand how they would serve on the City Council. To read the full text of our questions, CLICK HERE.

By our deadline, two of the four At Large candidates provided responses. They are presented in alphabetical order of their last name:

Michael Arulfo CLICK HERE  to read his responses.

Nathan Coulter - we were unable to contact / no email listed on campaign site.

Kim Vlaisavljevich did not respond by time of publication (appointed in 2016, seeking election to a full term).

Susan “Hofmeister” Woodruff CLICK HERE to read her responses.

Candidates in the Primary for the District 2 seat are Eldon Spencer, Lenny Klevan Schmitz, Shawn Nelson and Cheryl Lewis. Spencer was appointed by the council to fill the vacant seat earlier this year.  The SD49 GOP candidate search committee voted to recommend Eldon Spencer for our support.

Eldon Spencer  CLICK HERE to read his responses.

The League of Women Voters hosted a Primary Candidate Forum July 18.  The video of that Forum is viewable online.  CLICK HERE.

Click on the image below to view Eldon Spencer’s insights on City Council service, as featured in our July 17 newsletter.





Eldon Spencer - Candidate for Bloomington City Council


Eldon Spencer, Candidate for Bloomington City Council, District 2, responded to our questions.

Bloomington is being advised that it needs more affordable housing and more housing for senior citizens.  If you agree, what actions would you support to meet those needs?

RESPONSE:  With as many as 50,000 more jobs than its current population of almost 90,000, Bloomington obviously cannot provide housing of any sort – affordable or otherwise - for all of its workers, and all its retired senior citizens. 

Presumably that is one of the reasons that Bloomington, through its disproportionately large contributions to the fiscal disparities metropolitan area "pool," has provided significant dollars for transportation infrastructure and public transit options for allowing better access to its job sites. 

Also, while "affordability" of housing – always a relative concept – often means higher density, at least one of the types of housing that Bloomington's seniors with mobility challenges find to be in desperate shortage within the City are single story townhouses.  Therefore, it may be critical to be sure that these special needs are considered as options for any areas subject to redevelopment, while assuring that housing options offering a greater range of affordability because of permissibility for greater density be located in ways that do not unduly clog already overburdened streets or detract from the valuation of existing housing in contiguous areas. 

I would also explore availability of funds through state or federal programs for assisting qualified first-time home buyers with advances/deferrals of down payments where they could demonstrate adequate ability to pay ongoing periodic obligations on their new homes.  Such programs should be coupled with educational programs both as to availability and qualifications for obtaining such municipal assistance, and as to proper maintenance and budgeting responsibilities of homeowners of all vintages.

Bloomington is a mature community that is essentially fully developed.  What do you feel should be sustained, and what should be added/changed/redeveloped?

RESPONSE:  City green space should be sustained, with particular sensitivity to providing adequate facilities for newer outdoor sports and recreational activities with needs unaccommodated by existing park designs.  Redevelopment of large lots with "twin homes" or other styles that reflect only modest deviation from existing housing stock should be preferred over high density uses in areas where neighboring properties appear inconsistent with such added density.

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Susan “Hofmeister” Woodruff - Candidate for Bloomington City Council

Susan_Woodruff.jpgSusan “Hofmeister” Woodruff, Candidate for Bloomington City Council, At Large,  responded to our questions.

Bloomington is being advised that it needs more affordable housing and more housing for senior citizens.  If you agree, what actions would you support to meet those needs?

The U.S. government regards housing costs at or below 30% of one's income to be affordable.    Even in its most economically-challenged corridor of NE Bloomington, the Median Gross Rent is 20.2% of income.  With access to jobs and availability to mass transit, perhaps our Planning Dept. should encourage the private sector to develop quality family-friendly affordable housing and related services closer to those jobs and transportation, much like it has done to help fill the need and desire for quality Senior Living.

Bloomington is a mature community that is essentially fully developed. What do you feel should be sustained, and what should be added/changed/redeveloped?

Bloomington has matured nicely. Our median age in the mid 40’s is a very enviable position for any community.  We tend to be very stable, own and care for our homes, and put little strain on city services.  We are also the ones that do the most volunteering in our community. There is a law that states “85% capacity is maximum efficiency of any organization, and when you try and grasp that additional 15%, you risk losing everything that got you there”  There is wisdom in watching trends, and responding appropriately, however not to over react.

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Questions for Bloomington City Council Candidates

Here is the full text of questions we sent to the Bloomington City Council Candidates.

1)     Bloomington is being advised that it needs more affordable housing and more housing for senior citizens.  If you agree, what actions would you support to meet those needs?

2)     Bloomington is a mature community that is essentially fully developed.  What do you feel should be sustained, and what should be added/changed/redeveloped?

3)     Should Bloomington gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 or ban cigarette sales to anyone under 21?

4)     Pick one of the following topics and provide your opinion

       •      Housing development on Hyland Greens

       •      New community center

       •      Traffic soothing by removal of lanes, addition of bike lanes

       •      Franchise Fees (ruled unconstitutional in St Paul)

5)     What will you bring to the City Council if elected?

Candidates for Bloomington City Council, August 8 Primary

Candidates running for office in Bloomington have filed and an August 8 primary will be held . SD49 volunteers will be needed to help with campaigns.  The Senate District 49 Candidate Search committee will be open to talk with candidates that seek our support. If you are willing to volunteer and to help with these campaigns, please contact Randy Sutter (952-835-8917) or Mike Lehmann (612-839-0761).

Bloomington voters will elect four city council members this year: Districts 2, 3, 4, and At-Large.
Bloomington candidates:
At-Large Kim Vlaisavlevich (appointed), Nathan Coulter, Michael Arulfo, and Susan “Hofmeister” Woodruff
District 2 (southwest Bloomington) Eldon Spencer (appointed), Cheryl Lewis, Shawn Nelson, and Lenny Klevan Schmitz
District 3 (northwest Bloomington) Jack Baloga (incumbent) and Larry Frost
District 4 (northeast Bloomington) Patrick Martin and Jon Oleson (incumbent)

A Primary Election will be held on August 8 for the At-Large and District 2 seats, as three or more candidates filed for those offices. Two candidates for each seat will go forward to the general election in November.

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Bloomington School Board Candidates Must File Soon

Bloomington will be holding school board elections on November 7. If you are interested in your local schools and the quality of the education they are providing, you should seriously consider running for the school board in your district. The window of time to explore what it will take is getting short.

Bloomington School Board will have four seats up for election this year. The candidate filing period is August 1 to August 15, 2017. If you have any questions pertaining to filing procedures or reporting, please contact Jennifer Hazel at 952-681-6402.

The Senate District 49 Candidate Search committee will be open to talk with candidates that seek our support. If you are considering running, or if you are willing to volunteer and to help with these campaigns, please contact Randy Sutter (952-835-8917) or Mike Lehmann (612-839-0761).

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