Excited to Serve: Victorious Perham School Board Members Reflect on Choice – Perham Focus | Team Cansler

PERHAM – Several familiar faces and even a brand new one will serve on the Perham School Board after the 2022 election: newcomer DJ Altstadt and incumbents Michael Hamann, Justine Anderson and Nathan Rooney.

Anderson received 2,824 votes or 19.12%, Rooney received 2,777 or 18.8%, Altstadt received 2,727 or 18.4% and Hamann received 2,571 or 17.4%.

Candidates John Rutten and Kyle M. DeVoe received 2,423 and 1,384 votes, respectively, not enough to secure a seat on the board.

“It’s exciting to be back,” said returning board member Nathan Rooney. “We have a really good group of people to work with and that makes the work really enjoyable.”

Rooney has a few semesters under his belt now, so he has a solid understanding of how schools work. Anderson – who is deeply involved in education from Empowering Kids to the 549 Foundation – and Hamann, who has served on the school board for over 20 years combined, are both excited to be back on the board.

DJ Altstadt and his family

Post / DJ Altstadt

For newcomer Altstadt, he is thrilled that the community has trusted him to minister to their children. As he is new to being a member of an education board, he plans to attend the next school board meeting to learn how it works.

“I’m a Perham graduate, and the schools themselves — a lot of the teachers were a big influence on me,” Altstadt shared. “I definitely appreciate anything that teachers have to deal with in terms of lesson plans and I want to make sure they’re getting everything they need while remembering that the school is the heart of the community. I want to make sure the schools stay strong for the future.”

Altstadt has no big plans after his election. For now, he wants to learn and prepare for his tenure. Then he wants to help keep the schools in top shape.


Justine Anderson and her family

Contributed / Justine Anderson

While Anderson believes there’s always room for improvement, she also doesn’t have a specific agenda in mind. Mental health, diversity and all other aspects that contribute to the well-being of students are important to her. She’s more of a real-time person, she shared, and will discuss important issues as they arise.

“I’m really excited to do this again,” she said. “Education is really very important to me. I know how important a good school is for families and parents, community and business. I’m very fortunate to have a voice and the various connections and resources that are available to me. I am very grateful for that.”

Anderson wants to help the district continue to provide quality education as the world changes and grows. Similar to Anderson, Hamann also emphasized the importance of mental health and quality education for students. As someone who grew up fairly poor, he has seen firsthand how important education is to creating a quality life — whether that life is on a dairy farm milking cows, in a lab studying cancer, or getting started into a profession.

Mike Hamann.jpg

Michael Haemann

Article / Hamann Dentistry

“I want to help kids find their niche of what they’re talented for in life,” Hamann said. “If kids can find that niche and find something they enjoy doing, they would be a lot happier (in the future). College isn’t for everyone.”

He wants to make sure the school district is providing the right resources for students’ futures. This could mean undertaking ACT preparation or ensuring students have resources to pursue an education that is not inherently college-bound. Combatting bullying and standing up for the psychological well-being of the students are also very important to him. He wants to make sure the district offers a helping hand to the kids who need it.

“I like being on the school board,” says Hamann. “If I could run again in four years, I would be more than happy to do it.”

Rooney doesn’t have a set agenda either. He plans to take situations as they come and use what they have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with future problems. He is also pleased that the community is entrusting their children’s education to him, and he wants to help provide guidance.

“I just want to say thank you (to the community) for believing in me and a few others,” Rooney said. “It’s a pretty big deal. Others were also re-elected. It speaks volumes to the trust the community has in us.”

The election was exciting for the candidates. It hasn’t even really arrived for the old town. On election night, he stayed up as late as he could and looked at the results. Even though everything is new and he’s still in the process of processing, he’s still pretty excited about the opportunity.

Anderson herself had a very busy day on election night, so she went to bed early and planned to see the election results in the morning. She woke up in bed around 2am and when she looked at her phone she saw a series of text messages telling her that she had been re-elected. Although she was confident that she would be in one of the four places, it was still a relief to see these results. To see so many people voting for her is humbling, she said.

Winners are enthusiastic and excited to serve their communities.

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