Excited to serve: Winning Perham School Board members reflect on election

Several familiar faces and even a brand new one will be serving on the Perham School Board after the 2022 election: Newcomer DJ Altstadt and incumbents Michael Hamann, Justine Anderson and Nathan

perham school.jpg
The front entrance to Perham High School
Perham Focus File Photo
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PERHAM — Several familiar faces and even a brand new one will be serving 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 got 2,423 votes and 1,384, respectively, not enough for either 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 job really enjoyable."

Rooney now has a few terms under his belt, so he has a solid understanding of how the schools function. Anderson — who's deeply involved in education from Empowering Kids to the 549 Foundation — and Hamann, who's served a total of over 20 years on the school board, are both happy to be back on the board.


DJ Altstadt and his family
Contributed / DJ Altstadt

For newcomer Altstadt, he's thrilled the community entrusted him to serve their children. Since serving on an educational board is new to him, he plans to attend the next couple of school board meetings to get accustomed to the way it functions.

"I'm a Perham graduate, and the schools themselves — a lot of the teachers had a big impact on me," Altstadt shared. "I definitely appreciate everything teachers have to deal with in terms of lesson plans, and I want to make sure they're getting everything that they need while also keeping in mind that the school is the heart of the community. I want to make sure the schools stay strong for the future."

Altstadt doesn't have any major plans yet now that he's been elected. For now, he intends to learn and prepare for his term. Then, he wants to help keep the schools at their best.

Justine Anderson and her family
Contributed / Justine Anderson

While Anderson believes that there's always room for improvement, she also doesn't have any specific agenda in mind. Mental health, diversity and any other aspects that contribute toward a student's well-being are important to her. She's more of a real-time person, she shared, and she will discuss important topics as they come up.

"I'm really excited to do this again," she said. "I do just truly care a ton about education. I know how important a good school is to families and parents and community and businesses. I'm very fortunate that I have a voice and the different connections and resources at my disposal. I'm very grateful for that."

Anderson wants to help the district continue to offer quality education as the world changes and grows. Much like Anderson, Hamann also placed an emphasis on the importance of mental health and quality education for students. As someone who grew up fairly poor, he saw first-hand just how important education is to create a quality life — whether that life is on a dairy farm milking cows, in a lab studying cancer, or entering a trade.

Mike Hamann.jpg
Michael Hamann
Contributed / Hamann Dentristry

"I want to help kids find their niche, what they are talented at in life," Hamann said. "If kids can find that niche and find something they love to do, they would be a lot happier (in the future). College isn't for everybody."

He wants to make sure the school district offers the proper resources for students' futures. This could mean ACT prep or making sure students have resources available to pursue an education that isn't inherently tied to college. Combating bullying and advocating for students' mental wellness is also very important to him. He wants to make sure the district offers a helping hand to the kids who need it.


"I love being on the school board," Hamann said. "In four years, if I could run again, I'd be more than happy to do it."

Rooney also doesn't have a set agenda. He plans to take situations as they come and use what they learned during the COVID-19 pandemic when facing future problems. He's also excited that the community is trusting him with their kids' education, and he wants to help provide guidance.

"I'd just like to say thanks (to the community) for their trust in me and a few others," Rooney said. "That's a pretty big deal. Others got reelected too. It speaks volumes to the trust the community puts in us."

Getting elected was exciting for the candidates. For Altstadt, it hasn't even quite sunk in yet. He stayed up as late as he could on election night, watching the results. While everything is new, and he's still processing, he's still quite ecstatic about the opportunity.

Anderson herself had a very busy day on election night, so she went to bed early — planning to see the election results in the morning. She woke up in bed around 2 a.m., and when she checked her phone, she saw a bunch of text messages telling her she'd been reelected. While she felt confident she would be in one of the four seats, seeing those results was still a relief. Seeing so many people vote for her was humbling, she said.

The winners are excited and happy to serve their communities.

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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