A few weeks before the Nov. 6 election, Dean Korri was talking about the fact that no one in his district had filed for the vacant Lake Superior School Board seat.
"It was a discussion among friends in regard to the fact that no one was running. I live in a small subdistrict of the school district, in the east half of the Duluth Township and part of Alden," Korri said.
No one had filed for the District 7 seat by the August deadline and there were no murmurs of anyone planning a write-in campaign. After chatting with the superintendent, Korri decided to run his write-in campaign. He relied solely on word of mouth to garner votes.
It worked. With 86 write-in votes, Korri was named the winner of the seat. He accepted the appointment. It's Korri's first time serving on a school board, but he does have experience: He serves on the North Shore Sewer Board as a representative for Duluth Township.
"It's not the same thing, but there are familiar challenges," Korri said. "The problem of budgeting and dealing with finances is everywhere. It's not unique to the schools. I'm looking to contribute to the discussion in any way I can."
Korri has worked as a civil engineer with Cleveland-Cliffs for nearly 30 years. His family moved to the Knife River area about 12 years ago. All three of his children graduated from Two Harbors High School, with the last one graduating in 2017.
"When we moved here from Michigan, the high school was new at the time. I was very impressed with the school and the system," Korri said. "That's why we decided to move to the Knife River area versus Duluth, where I worked. I wanted my children to go to Two Harbors."
Korri also gave "kudos" to the system. One of his daughters went to St. Scholastica after graduating from Two Harbors High School and received the Alworth Scholarship based on her grades and ACT score.
"That's a merit to the system," Korri said. As for serving on the board, Korri said he was excited "to give back to the community." "It's a sign of the times that no one else ran for the seat," Korri said. "People are busy. When your kids are gone, it's a bit different. If you'd asked me five years ago, it would have been different. I wouldn't have wanted the extra load. Now I can make the commitment."