Council recommends regent candidates

A council of state leaders, legislators and a student selected 10 candidates on Thursday.

by Christopher Aadland

A list of 19 candidates vying for the five open seats on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents cut to 10 on Thursday.

After three days of public interviews, the Regent Candidate Advisory Council — comprised of state leaders, legislators and a University student — voted to recommend its top contenders, who range from a family farmer to a former Best Buy executive.

After some council members expressed concerns about selecting candidates with political backgrounds, former lawmakers U.S. Rep. Bill Luther, D-Minn., and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, did not make the list.

Although some council members said he was a well-qualified applicant, council member Pat Duncanson  said Lanning’s political awareness and name recognition would give him a “tremendous advantage” over the other candidates.

Board Chair Richard Beeson will square off against former Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel for the fourth district opening.

The council elected two candidates for each regent spot to be considered by a joint legislative committee in the coming weeks.

Other regent contenders include Claire Bender and Randy Simonson for the first district, Michael Belzer and Paula Prahl for the third district, Michael Hsu and Steve Laraway for the sixth district and Tom Anderson and Mike Yost for the seventh district.

The committee will narrow down its selection and submit a slate of five regents to the full Legislature in late February.