With seven candidates vying for just three seats on the Richfield School Board this election, Richfield Patch asked candidates to fill out a questionnaire to aid voters in their decisions.
See what candidate Peter Toensing had to say below:
Have you ever held an appointed or elected office before?
I have previously served 1 term on the Richfield School Board between 2007 and 2011.
What relevant experience do you have?
Prior to my term on the school board, I served on the Fiscal Planning Advisory Committee for the district between 2004 and 2007. I also served on the Facilities Study Advisory Committee between 2004 and 2005.
Experience in leadership and governance in healthcare includes: Chief of the Medical Staff at Fairview Ridges Hospital (2012-13) and continued service on the Medical Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville.
What is your occupation?
Physician specializing in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Where did you go to school?
B.A from St. Olaf College, M.D. from University of Colorado
How old are you?
Do you have a spouse, children or any other family members you’d like to tell voters about?
Married to Kari Toensing. 4 children (ages 13, 12, 9 and 7).
What are your campaign goals?
I believe that strong public schools are essential to a healthy community. Richfield is blessed with a tradition of strong public schools and has successfully faced many challenges. Now it is time to raise our sights higher – to truly fulfill our district’s potential for offering excellent education to all learners. As a board member, I can contribute my own skills and experience to supporting that goal. My previous experience on the board prepares me to understand how to set priorities within the bounds of a public school budget, while my years of community involvement mean that I see how the schools function within Richfield as a whole. We must maintain accountability at all levels within our schools. To that end, I will ask for ongoing critical examination of district programs to ensure that the dollars we spend achieve outcomes we can be proud of. We also must set high expectations and expect to meet them. I will seek to further a culture of excellence in our schools that is shared by administrators, educators, students, and families.
What issues are you most focused on?
During my service on governing boards both in the public schools and in healthcare, I have learned that the main task of a board is to provide guidance and direction to the administration and to keep the leadership of the district accountable to the goals we all agree upon. Accountability will be my main focus. I will accomplish this by asking for a rigorous focus on increasing academic achievement and expecting results. One specific area where I would like to see some movement is in how the district structures its contracts with administrators and teachers. The incentives in these contracts should be designed to reward the specific behaviors that will advance the district’s goal of increasing academic achievement. I will also focus on maintaining a healthy learning environment within our schools -- an environment that is safe, supportive and inclusive. I believe that this has been a traditional strength of our schools and we should build upon that success. Finally, I will strive to capitalize on the diversity within our student body. The diversity in Richfield offers us an opportunity to distinguish our schools as a community that truly prepares our students to be global citizens.
Why should voters choose you?
I believe that I will bring a combination of skills and experience to the Richfield School Board that will help the district to build on our recent successes and face future challenges. In my professional life, as a physician, I am accustomed to making decisions on a daily basis that require me to critically analyze data, weigh risks and benefits and make judgments that serve my patient’s interests. I am also required to work collaboratively with people in diverse circumstances, frequently under stress. These skills will help me to be a constructive School Board member with a focus on problem-solving and building consensus. I value open communication and transparent decision-making. Residents will find me to be an active listener, willing to learn from diverse perspectives.
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