School board likely to see 2 new faces

Published 9:36 am Friday, August 27, 2010

Hospital CEO and computer consultant unopposed in races

Four people filed for seats on the Albert Lea school board in the filing period that ended on Aug. 17, and it looks like the board will see two new members by 2011.

Dr. Mark Ciota, CEO of Albert Lea Medical Center filed for the seat now held by Jolinda Schreiber, who decided not to seek re-election.

Mark Ciota

Self-employed computer consultant Jeshua Erickson is seeking the seat vacated by retired police officer Bill Villarreal, a fitness trainer at the Albert Lea Family Y. There are two years remaining on that seat’s term. The other seats offer four-year terms.

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Jill Marin and Sally Ehrhardt filed for re-election.

Unless there are write-in campaigns, all four likely will get places on the board for Albert Lea Area Schools.

It was Ciota’s first time filing for a school board.

“I’m a product of public education,” Ciota said. “I have a passion for public education.”

He also said his oldest daughter recently graduated from Albert Lea High School and his youngest is in high school. He said his experience as CEO of ALMC

has helped him gain knowledge of financing, union relations, negotiations and how administration works.

“I like the strategic direction of the new superintendent and his passion for improvement,” Ciota said.

He said he thinks the board should be supportive of the district’s administration and teachers and ensure they can both succeed. He said the most important thing was to have goals for students and their success.

Jeshua Erickson

Erickson filed for his first time for a school board seat. He said he thinks the community needs someone to fill the two-year term left by Villarreal, and he’s excited about the opportunity.

“I have a background in technology and experience working for a human resources consulting firm,” Erickson said.

He said those experiences would be helpful to the board. Erickson also said it’s important for the board to be focused on student achievement, and he thinks that’s a big priority.

Current school board member Ehrhardt said she filed for re-election because she’s excited about the challenges the school board offers.

“I hope to be a positive influence on the district,” Ehrhardt said. “The biggest goal is academic achievement, and I think the school board is very focused on that.”

She said she thinks the district is on the right path and that it’s working to improve all the time.

Marin said she enjoyed her first term on the board.

“We’ve done some really good things,” Marin said. “We’ve done a good job of managing the finances.”

She also said she thinks schooling is a vital part of the community and it’s important to have good people in the positions on the school board. She said she’s very happy with the direction of the school board and is looking forward to continuing that direction.

The general election is Nov. 2 and school board terms will start Jan. 3; however, the vacated seat will be filled right after the election. There was no primary election for school board seats.