(Alexandria, MN) The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has held many public forums over the years to give a voice to candidates in the area. Their most recent effort has been the target of some controversy as of late. The September 13th Alexandria School Board candidate forum video, in its entirety, is one hour and 26 minutes long and was made public through Voice of Alexandria, with permission from the AAUW. Once video snipets were taken from the full-length video and made into smaller, edited clips by a third party, the organization asked voiceofalexandria to remove the video to prevent further incidents.
The AAUW issued the following statement:
"By request from the sponsoring organization of the candidate forum for the election of a member of School District 206 Board of Education held on September 13, the video recording of the forum has been deleted from the Voice of Alexandria website. A portion of the video has been selectively edited and distributed on You-tube by an individual representing Parents United 206. This edited clip distorts comments made at the forum by one of the candidates and violates the forum goals of educating the voters about the qualifications of both candidates. This action by Parents United 206 was not endorsed by either candidate and requests to remove the doctored video clip from You-tube were dismissed. The sponsors of the organization are disappointed that the forum is no longer accessible and hope that the producers of the video manipulation will reconsider their actions."
The parent group officially calls itself Parents United for Responsive Education- District 206 released their own public statement regarding the video's removal.
"The Alexandria chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) removal of the full-length video of the School Board Candidate Forum held on September 13, 2021 is counter-productive to their stated goal of educating the public. As hosts to a public political forum, they have a duty to provide this content to the public. Candidates and attendees were not allowed to make their own recording, and there is no copyright claim to political discourse.
Sixteen clips were created and posted to The Parents United YouTube page, providing easily viewable segments. The clips include (the moderator's) question and the full answer of each candidate. In the description of each clip posted a link is provided to the full video on the Voice of Alexandria’s YouTube page, allowing viewers an easy path to viewing the forum in its entirety. However, now those links lead nowhere.
After creating a clip in which Candidate Patience referenced the masking of K-6 students with the statement, 'They can come to school in a mask. It’s not a limb we’re taking off.' 'I was outraged by his callousness,' explained Laura Knudsen, creator of the video clips. 'I recalled a speech given at the Truth and Choice Rally by a mother of a first grader, who’s speech impediment has been negatively impacted by masking. I decided to juxtapose the statements to illustrate Patience’s complete disregard of parents’ concerns over masking our children.'
The editing of the clips are now being unfairly characterized by the AAUW as ‘manipulation.’ This is the excuse they are using to deny the public access to the full video. 'The AAUW’s claim is absurd. These are Jeff Patience’s own words in their entirety. What context would make their meaning different?' stated Knudsen. 'Manipulation would be dubbing over his words or clipping words together to make a sentence Patience didn’t say.'
The sixteen clips will remain available on the Parents United 206 YouTube channel for viewing and sharing. The video juxtaposing Patience’s 'limb removal' statement with the concerned mother’s speech has been removed for now.
If the AAUW’s real intent is to educate the public, they should re-post the video. It’s removal appears to be to appease one candidate who’s statements are unfavorable to the public’s ears."
VOA made contact with both of the candidates, Maureen Eigen and Jeff Patience and they confirm that they were in no way connected to the edited versions of the video and expressed their displeasure with the action. Both say they were pleased with how the forum was conducted. Eigen is a part of the Parents United group and has been supported by it, but says she disapproves of the edited versions, adding she wishes the full-length video was still made available to the public. Patience says he reached out to Eigen and concluded, "we have both agreed the negative energy around this school board campaign needs to stop. Neither of us want attacks on each other 'in the name of our supporters'. That's not the way we agreed to do this back in June when we started. And it's not the way we want to end the campaign in November."
As unfortunate as the situation has become, we respectfully have removed the original video of the forum from all platforms owned by Leighton Broadcasting at the request of the owners of the full-length video, AAUW.
People can access the candidates Facebook pages for more information about them:
The two candidates – Jeff Patience and Maureen Eigen – are on the ballot for a special one-year term for the Alexandria School Board. The special election will take place November 2, with early voting beginning on September 17.
Vote early in person
Starting September 17 through November 1, you can vote early in person at the Woodland Elementary Building/District Office located at 1410 S McKay Ave during regular office hours of Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Vote early by mail
Request an absentee ballot by calling 320-762-2141 ext. 4213 or download an application at alexschools.org. Once you have completed the application, return it to the address noted on the back. Once the application is received, an absentee ballot will be mailed to you with instructions. Mail your ballot back in the pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope that was provided with your ballot materials. Ballots must be received by November 2.
For further information about voting by absentee ballot, including procedures and qualifications, call the District Office at (320) 762-2141 ext. 4213 or email Maggie Timm, Election Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vote day of primary election
The Special Election is Tuesday, November 2. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Your polling location may be different than the last time you voted. Visit mnvotes.org or call 320-762-2141 ext. 4213 if you have questions about where to vote.
The list of polling locations for this election:
- Precinct No. 1: City of Alexandria, Ward 1, Precincts 1 and 2
Voting location: Lake Community Church, 490 Voyager Drive, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 2: City of Alexandria, Ward 2
Voting location: Reach Church (formerly known as Living Waters Church), 1310 North Nokomis, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 3: City of Alexandria, Ward 3
Voting location: New Life Christian Church, 1910 County Road 82 SE, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 4: City of Alexandria, Ward 4
*Voting location: The Church of St. Mary, 420 Irving St, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 5: City of Alexandria, Ward 5, Precincts 1 and 2
Voting location: Alexandria City Hall, 704 Broadway, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 6: LaGrand Township
Voting location: LaGrand Town Hall, 501 Town Hall Rd NW, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 7: City of Garfield, Brandon Township, Ida Township, Leaf Valley Township, and Moe Township
Voting location: Ida Town Hall, 4700 County Road 6 NW, Garfield
- Precinct No. 8: City of Miltona, Miltona Township, and Spruce Hill Township
Voting location: Miltona Community Center, 5590 County Road 14 NE, Miltona
- Precinct No. 9: City of Carlos, Belle River Township, and Carlos Township
Voting location: Carlos Town Hall, 210 Victoria Ave, Carlos
- Precinct No. 10: City of Nelson, Alexandria Township, and Osakis Township
Voting location: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2702 Highway 29 N, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 11: City of Forada and Hudson Township
Voting location: Forada City Fire Hall, 10991 Tobys Ave SE, Alexandria
- Precinct No. 12: Holmes City Township, Lake Mary Township, and Reno Township (Pope County)
Voting location: Lake Mary Town Hall, 4791 County Rd 4 SW, Alexandria
*Represents change in polling location for Ward 4.