School Board Candidates (Four-year Term)
There are four candidates to fill four, four-year terms on the Westonka School Board: Dave Botts, Kelle Bowe, Ralph Harrison and Heidi Marty. The general election will be held Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
Dave Botts, 980 Bayside Lane, Minnetrista, has been a member of the Westonka School Board for 20 years, including 17 years as chairman, making him the longest-serving school board member in the 100-plus history of the school district. He is seeking his sixth term on the board. He attended Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID. He retired from 3M in 2018 after a 30 year career and now serves as Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Paragon Water Systems, a Culligan International Company. A 30-year resident of the district, Botts has four children who are Westonka graduates: Hunter, Tanner, Graedon and Adam. He is married to Jacki Snyder-Botts. Botts is also a founding member and board member of the WSA (Westonka Sports Association) which built and operates Thaler Sports Center.
I am extremely proud to represent the patrons of the Westonka District on our School Board. We continue to set high goals for ourselves and our kids, parents, staff, teachers and leadership just continue to knock the ball out of the park. Our progress over the past 15-plus years is really awe-inspiring, but there is more to do and I am excited to have the opportunity to continue serving and safeguarding this remarkable community asset. I firmly believe that our best is still to come.
Kelle Downey Bowe
Kelle Downey Bowe, 2815 Casco Point Rd., Wayzata, a life-long resident of the Westonka School District and a graduate of Mound Westonka High School, is running for her second term on the school board. She is also a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Burnet. She and her husband, Kurt, have four children who have graduated from or attend district schools. Jacob, Grace and Sydney are recent graduates of Mound Westonka High School and Trent is high school junior. As a Westonka parent she is currently involved in booster clubs for football, boys hockey and baseball. Community involvements include serving as a council member and past president at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and a volunteer for Feed My Starving Children and Adopt-A-Family.
I am seeking another term on the school board because my current term has been incredibly rewarding and heart-warming. Westonka is a district that truly puts its students’ needs above all each and every day. Having three children now who have graduated from Westonka and my last one currently a junior in Westonka, I couldn’t be more proud of the people they have become. I feel thankful and blessed for the foundation they have received in the Westonka School District. Over my last term, I’m most proud of the Performing Arts Center and the Westonka Activity Center that were built recently, not only for our students, but also for our community. This is a fabulous district and I want to continue moving it forward in such a positive manner.
Ralph Evans Harrison
Ralph Evans Harrison, 4935 Grand View Ave., Minnetrista, is seeking his third term on the school board. He is currently school board treasurer. He holds a BA in Economics from Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, and an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. He has his own firm, Harrison Capital Management, Mound. A resident of the district for more than 20 years, he and his wife, Susan, have three children who are Westonka graduates: Matthew, Julia and Scott. In the greater community, Harrison also has served as chair for the Minnetrista Roads Committee.
I first pursued a seat on the school board eight years ago to support our district’s leadership and board. During this period Westonka Schools have achieved great success in many areas and are in the strongest position in years. I would like to continue to be part of this success. Ambitious initiatives in the areas of infrastructure improvement and curriculum programming have been implemented at or below initial cost projections. Our School buildings are now up to standards that our community can be proud of, and the district continues to distinguish itself academically with math and reading scores ranking among the highest in Minnesota. Newsweek named Mound Westonka High School to its list of “Top American High Schools” for 2015, ranking it in the top three percent of public high schools nationwide. Only 10 Minnesota schools made the list. Our district continues to distinguish itself as one of the best in the state. Westonka Schools strive to create a rich and diverse educational experience accessible to all of our students by offering smaller class sizes along with a variety of co-curricular activities and a portfolio of honors and college level courses. Broad student participation in the arts, sports, Link Crew and DECA are a few examples of the school experience.
Westonka Schools have many things to be proud of and our challenge is to continue the positive momentum. We are a small district delivering excellent results cost effectively. Westonka has been able to maintain a fund balance and is solid financially. Even with the facility improvements to our buildings, Westonka continues to have the lowest total school taxes in Hennepin County. Space constraints in the areas of early childhood development and the lower grade levels will need to be addressed by the school board. I hope to play a constructive role in the decision process. My past experience as board treasurer and as a member of the finance and policy committees helps me understand the challenges and opportunities our district faces.
Heidi Marty, Mound, has lived in the Westonka School District for 16 years. She and her husband, Todd Mikkelson, have a daughter, Eve, a junior at Mound Westonka High School. Marty received her BA from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a history major and economics minor and owns her own business in Spring Park. She has been actively involved in the school district including serving on the school board since 2017 when she was appointed and then elected to fill a vacancy. She is now seeking a full four-year term. In the Westonka community she supports the efforts of WeCAN, the Westonka Food Shelf and local sports and activities.
It has been a privilege to be part of the Westonka School Board for the past two years, a time of such incredible momentum, improvement and growth in our district. And it is so very gratifying to work with board members and staff who are constantly striving to make Westonka the best it can be.
I’m running to serve a full term on the board to continue the important work currently before us, including: improving the mental health and safety of students, implementing more effective teaching methods and models, preparing students for a wider variety of post-college options, and working to secure a financial future for our district.
I’m also a Westonka parent, so it’s very important to me that our community schools have committed leadership with vision and integrity. Our district has made incredible strides in the last ten years because of the ongoing efforts of staff, Board and volunteer leaders who worked hard to achieve the award-winning district we have today. It would be an honor to help guide our district to an even brighter future by continuing as a member of the School Board.