Here's one way to run for school board: Promise not to serve
Ex-Roseville mayor tries to make a point about off-year elections

Doug Belden - Pioneer Press
July 19, 2007

Roseville's former mayor is running for school board, but he doesn't want the job.

John Kysylyczyn said Thursday he doesn't intend to serve if elected. He said he filed for the office, along with three political allies, to draw attention to the need for the school district to switch to even-year elections.

"You don't need to serve to bring about change when the issue you are advocating for is basic common sense. You just need to bring the issue to the public's attention," Kysylyczyn wrote in an e-mail Thursday from Oregon, where he was on a family vacation.

Kysylyczyn, who frequently sparred with residents and public officials during a tempestuous mayoral term from 2000-04, filed along with Bryan Olson, Eugene M. Bahnemann Sr. and Joe Machyowsky.

The four intended to force a primary election and highlight the additional cost involved with odd-year elections, according to a statement issued by Olson. They also argue odd-year elections have relatively low voter turnout.

Kysylyczyn said he wouldn't have time to be on the school board because "I am a full-time, stay-at-home parent who is also running a political consulting business, both full-time jobs."

He said he intends to support candidates who back the switch to even-year balloting.

Twelve candidates have filed for three seats on the board. A September primary will winnow the number to six.

Unlike Kysylyczyn, Olson said he intends to serve on the school board if he is elected. Bahnemann and Machyowsky could not be reached for comment.

It may seem strange to protest odd-year elections by filing for one and even helping create an additional one - the primary will cost about $12,000, the district estimates - but Kysylyczyn said the faux candidacy was the best way to publicize the issue.

He lays the blame for the primary costs at the feet of the school board.

"Let's make it clear that it is solely the school board's decision to take money from the kids to pay for these extra and unnecessary elections, whether they are primary or general odd-year elections," he wrote.

The school district has had odd-year elections since 1998, said Merrie Zakaras, executive assistant in the superintendent's office.

The city of Roseville had odd-year elections as well until recently, so the district and city were in sync.

The district is made up of all or part of seven communities, some of which are on odd- and some on even-year election schedules.

With the city of Roseville's switch to even years, the question of whether the school district should follow suit is likely to come up for discussion by board members this school year, said Frank Shaw, the board's chairman.

There is an expense involved in running elections in odd years without the city of Roseville's participation, Shaw said, but there is a risk in even years that school issues won't get the attention they deserve because of all the other national, state and local races on the ballot.

In any case, he said, "If that's (Kysylyczyn's) only issue, maybe he could drop out now, because we will be talking about it."

Doug Belden can be reached at or 651-228-5136.

Copyright 2007 Saint Paul Pioneer