Poirier, Leonzal win school board elections


November 10, 2023

Although Election Day saw many highly competitive and issues-based elections around the country, along with a change of mayor in Duluth, Carlton County had just two school board races on the ballot. Both races — one in Carlton, one in Barnum — were to fill a vacant seat.

In Barnum, Patrick Poirier won by a 61-percent margin, with 102 votes to Tony Newman’s 64. Poirier will fill the one year remaining in the term, until the 2024 election.

It isn’t new ground for Poirier, who once served on the Barnum school board for 12 years. He was appointed to fill in for a board member who had left midterm and subsequently ran for the seat.

Poirier said he is passionate about student achievement, retaining high-quality teachers and wanted to be part of a construction project Barnum is starting soon.

In Carlton, Ryan Leonzal defeated Steven Schmidt 90 votes to 54 in the race to fill the seat vacated by longtime board member Tim Hagenah, who resigned in June.

Leonzal said he sees declining enrollment as a top issue, but believes the Carlton schools have done extremely well providing quality education under current circumstances. He also said a school district consolidation with Wrenshall should be strongly considered and pursued if it is the best option for students and the community.

The two electees will be

sworn in at the next school boad meetings.

The two school boards will tour all three school buildings in the two districts beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13 at Carlton High School. The public is welcome to join the tours.


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