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Lofald to challenge Johnston for School Board

Jill Lofald

Retired Denfeld High School teacher Jill Lofald will mount an election challenge to Duluth School Board member Art Johnston.

Lofald, who retired last year after 31 years in the English department at Denfeld, is the first non-incumbent to declare her intention to run in the fall election. She will seek the District 4 seat that Johnston has held for two terms and is seeking to retain.

"I feel like I have the experiences and wisdom that can be used to the benefit of the School Board," Lofald told the News Tribune on Thursday.

Lofald, 62, said she's running for the western Duluth seat because she's spent most of her life living and working in the district.

She grew up in Morgan Park, attended the University of Minnesota Duluth and bought her first house in Morgan Park before moving to the Denfeld neighborhood. She has two adult children who still live in the western communities.

Lofald taught English, speech and theater classes at Denfeld before her retirement. She continues to be involved in coaching speech and debate teams.

"I knew that was a way to stay connected to students," she said. "I retired from teaching, but I didn't retire from my passion for kids in school systems."

Lofald said she wants to continue and improve relationships the district has with organizations and individuals such as the Valley Youth Center and mental health specialists. She said her three decades inside the school will be an asset.

"Certainly, I can share with fellow board members perspectives from seeing students that need support or working with class sizes that might be too large," she said. "There's challenges, yes, but I have been in that building and I do see that the majority of the kids are getting quality education, having opportunities to succeed and have classes that are offered that are good for them."

Lofald will formally announce her campaign at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on the steps of the Denfeld auditorium.

The field of School Board candidates remains scarce, with only Johnston, At Large member Harry Welty and District 1 representative Rosie Loeffler-Kemp previously declaring their intentions to seek re-election.