Ryan Dahnert emerged as the top choice to fill a vacant seat on the Jordan Board of Education June 26 after board members interviewed four candidates.
Dahnert, a father of three Jordan students and member of the Jordan Economic Development Authority, is vice president of sales and marketing for Plymold, a Burnsville-based furniture manufacturer. He is also serving as interim CEO for Plymold’s parent company, Foldcraft.
The board asked the candidates 14 questions each in 30-minute interview sessions. Questions ranged from what motivates candidates to how they view the role of a school board member and what district initiatives they would advocate for in the near future.
Board members said they were impressed with the flexibility and dedication Dahnert offers the district. The also noted his calm, deliberative demeanor.
“He’s a pretty thoughtful person and he stays pretty committed to certain past efforts that he’s passionate about,” board member Rob Langheim said during deliberations after the interviews. “He’s got a good background in terms of connecting dots and setting vision.”
Dahnert said the strength of Jordan Public Schools is the district’s efficiency and effectiveness in providing diverse programming, considering the size of the community. That said, he believes there are opportunities to expand vocational programming.
“I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen at this point and I want to make sure that we continue to, from my vantage point, do a lot with a little, frankly,” Dahnert said. “It really seems like the programs you have put in place are very ambitious and I’m very excited about what I’ve seen.”
Dahnert identified his experience reporting to governance boards and understanding their mechanics as his one of his strengths as a candidate. He said his greatest challenge would be getting up to speed on local school board issues, but also pointed out that this could be a benefit, since he joins the board with an open mind and hasn’t yet formed an opinion on many issues.
Other candidates included Sara Lehnen, a program director for Best Buy; former Jordan City Councilman Mike Franklin, a partner at Weber Johnson Public Affairs and Jeff Carlson, refrigeration manager for Lunds & Byerlys, a grocery store chain.
“I wish we could’ve taken all four of them,” board chairwoman Deb Pauly said.
Dahnert will be seated at the July 8 school board meeting, but state law prohibits appointees from voting for 30 days. Dahnert’s appointment lasts until Dec. 31.
He will have to file for the November election between July 30 and Aug. 13 if he wishes to fill the remainder of the term. The seat was vacated by Jesse Erdal, who stepped down in June because his family plans to move out of state.
Dahnert indicated during his interview he would file for election if appointed.