4th District sees close endorsement race

by Jessica Steeno

Persistence paid off for Board of Regents’ candidate David Metzen when he gained the recommendation of 4th Congressional District legislators Friday.
This is the third time Metzen submitted his resumÇ for the job, and his experience with the public interviews might have secured his recommendation.
Metzen, superintendent of South St. Paul’s public schools, is opposed by Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Carol Ericson and St. Paul banker Andrew Boss.
Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said voting on the candidates was “one of the most difficult decisions” of her career.
“We couldn’t go wrong with any of them,” she said. “But I think the advantage Dave Metzen had was that this was his third time through, and I think people were really impressed with his persistence.”
Metzen gained 68 out of 127 votes, just enough for the recommendation. Legislative members who represent areas that lie entirely in the 4th District each had five votes to distribute among candidates. Legislators who represent areas only partially within the 4th District had fewer votes.
Metzen’s name will be forwarded to the Joint Education Committee, which could override the Legislature’s endorsement. The committee recommends one finalist for the entire Legislature to consider.
“It was a very difficult decision,” said Sen. Randy Kelly, DFL-St. Paul. “All three candidates were superbly qualified. This would have been a tremendous time when we could have had job-sharing.”
Candidates gave five-minute opening statements, then all three fielded questions from legislators for about half an hour.
In his opening statement, Metzen said that building public trust and keeping the University accessible were two of his main goals.
“Accessibility is something we must cherish,” he said. “It’s a land-grant University, and that means to me that yes, we can have high standards and we should have high standards. We also must be creative and figure out how to get kids in our school. Many times, you have to give kids a chance.” Metzen added that he was accepted to the University even though he was “just barely in the top 50 percent” of his class.
Boss and Ericson said their experiences in public education would be useful if either was to gain the seat. Boss was chairman of the board at Metropolitan State University, and Ericson is a superintendent in Roseville.
“I have a deep passion for public education,” Ericson said. “I have committed my professional life to it and I believe deeply in it, and I believe it is the strength of our democracy.”
The 4th District caucus was the last to consider candidates for the board’s five open seats. Lawmakers plan to make their final selections by Feb. 28.