Service is a core value of William Fields.
The 36-year-old Andover resident serves his country daily in the Air National Guard and in November, he took steps to more directly serve his local community, running for the Anoka-Hennepin District 11 School Board and winning.
After 25 years representing District 4 – which includes portions of Ham Lake, Nowthen and Oak Grove; a large part of Andover; and the northeastern section of Ramsey – Michael Sullivan announced his retirement last summer, and Fields saw an opportunity.
“I saw a chance to continue service through Mike Sullivan’s retirement,” he said. “I was in the same district, and it just kind of had the timing that worked out, honestly. That’s what motivated me to go ahead and put my name in the hat.”
Ham Lake residents Paul Meunier and Janelle Kirkeide put their names in the hat, too.
Fields won the election with 53 percent of the vote. Meunier, former mayor of Ham Lake, came in second with 36 percent.
Although this will be Fields’ first time on a school board, he has served on safety boards in the military, reviewing proposed projects and financial figures. This and other experiences in the military will inform Fields’ work in District 11, he said.
“Being an instructor, being a training manager, it just got me interested in education, how people learn and how to best help them learn,” Fields said.
When asked how the school board might improve, Fields had very little to offer because he said the board’s already moving in such a positive direction. He cited the board’s fiscal responsibility and focus on education as two keys for success he would like to see maintained.
However, “like with anything, there’s always room for improvement, especially when you have a large organization,” Fields said. “If you’re not seeking ways to improve it, then you’re probably going to end up dying …. You’ll flatline, essentially, and that’s no good. We always want to find ways to improve, ways to be more efficient as we go forward.”
Fields would like to see more initiatives like the STEM and STEP programs, as well as other programs which allow students to earn college credit in high school. “I think those are fantastic, so I’d like to continue down that path and see what else we can do to help alleviate some of the financial burdens that families may incur if they send their children off to college,” he said.
At home in Andover
Almost four years ago, Fields, his wife Kathy and their family settled in Andover when he transitioned from active duty in the Air Force to his current position as a group manager with the Air National Guard.
The couple have four children, ages 11, 9, 7 and 1. The three eldest attend school at Legacy Christian Academy, a private pre-K-12 school in Andover.
“One of the things we’re looking at is as they get older to transition them into the public side of things,” Fields said. “Faith is important to us and our family, and we wanted to get that foundation early on, but we also like a lot of the things that are offered in, say, the Anoka-Hennepin School District.”
Fields said that he and his wife would consider public high school for their children when they reach that age.
In his spare time, “I try and keep up with my children,” Fields said. Spending time with family, watching and playing sports and relaxing outdoors (when it’s warmer) are Fields’ favorite pastimes.
Sworn in to office
Fields will be sworn in as a director on the six-person Anoka-Hennepin School Board during its regular meeting Jan. 13.
Incumbents Bill Harvey of Champlin and Jeff Simon of Coon Rapids will also be sworn in after re-election in November.
School board members are elected to four-year terms.
“I think it’s going to be a great chance to serve, and I’m just looking forward to being a part of the school board and the community,” Fields said.
Olivia Koester is at [email protected]