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Sabrie joins incumbents on Mankato school board

By Trey Mewes [email protected]
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Abdi Sabrie newly elected Mankato Area Public School Board

Abdi Sabrie knocked on a lot of doors over the past few weeks as a candidate for one of four open Mankato Area Public Schools Board seats. His daughter, Sarah Sabrie, 8, went with him through several neighborhoods.

Abdi was on his third campaign for a school board seat and really didn't want to disappoint Sarah.

"I wouldn't be able to live with her," he said with a laugh Tuesday night at the district's election gathering inside the Intergovernmental Center. "She door-knocked with me a lot and she had to deal with some dogs."

Dad came through in the Sabrie family — Abdi joins Ann Hendricks, Judi Brandon and Sara Hansen as Mankato's newest school board members. Abdi was the only non-incumbent to be elected to a board seat Tuesday, and is the first Somali immigrant elected to Mankato's school board.

"Being an immigrant is not a barrier," Sabrie said. "That point has been proven tonight."

The race's final results were reported shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday. Hendricks led the pack with 1,009 votes, followed by Brandon with 867, Hansen with 838 and Sabrie with 778.

Darren Wacker received 587 votes, while Ben Braswell garnered 686 votes and Baxter received 361.

Abdi has become a well-known leader within the community since he first moved to Mankato seven years ago. He's the executive director of African Family and Education Center, an education nonprofit he started soon after he arrived here.

Abdi also serves on a variety of committees and boards, including the Blue Earth County Child Protection Services Board. In addition, he has been an outspoken supporter of the district and has worked with school officials to better serve refugee and immigrant students in Mankato.

Now that he is elected, Abdi hopes to make good on his campaign promises to push for an education collaboration with nearby districts, a nine-week program to teach parents how to be more involved in their children's education, and potential changes to how the district serves students who speak English as a second language.

Hendricks continued her streak as the school board member with the longest tenure and secured her sixth term on the board Tuesday.

"That's gratifying," she said of her re-election. "To be the top vote-getter, it's very gratifying. And I think when we see three incumbents come back, that means the good work of the board is being recognized."

Hendricks has lived in Mankato for more than four decades and worked as a special education instructor for St. Peter Public Schools and Minnesota Security Hospital. She has also served as board chairwoman since 2007.

Brandon has secured her third full term on the board since she was appointed nine years ago. She has 15 years of experience on the board — she served in the early 1980s as well — and also worked as an educator and principal in Mankato for decades.

"I'm just so grateful to the community for recognizing my commitment and re-electing me," she said.

Both Brandon and Hendricks are looking forward to tackling new topics on the board as well, including the repercussions behind Mankato's continued student population growth.

"Everything we do, I find some joy or excitement in — even in the financial stuff, I've learned," Brandon said with a laugh.


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