James Farnsworth (he/him/his) is a 2016 graduate of Saint Paul Public Schools. Born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, he was placed in foster care from infancy and adopted by two longtime Minneapolis Public School teachers. Like so many Minnesotans, James has a rich and diverse ethnic heritage which includes most prominently: Indigenous Americas - Mexico, European Jewish, European, and African.
James has a deep knowledge of the challenges facing the district and a proven track record of forming diverse coalitions to uplift the experiences of BIPOC students. After serving on the SPPS Multicultural Ethnic Studies Stakeholder Group, he currently serves on the Critical Ethnic Studies Steering Committee alongside school board Directors Ellis and Vue. He's actively attended school board meetings over the years which has given him an incisive perspective and keen insight into process and governance of a large and complex institution with an over $600 million annual budget. Additionally, as an SPPS student, he started conversations that led to the creation of the Student Engagement and Advancement Board.
James ran in last year’s special election for the Saint Paul School Board and received the support of 21,814 Saint Paul residents, finishing a close third out of six candidates. The 2020 campaign gave him a unique opportunity to engage with hundreds of community members to gain insights into the critical issues facing the district. District parents/caregivers, students, educators, and staff voiced concerns about sustained significant enrollment loss, the lack of transparency around a new school safety plan, gaps in student academic achievement between BIPOC students and white students, and the continued delay of culturally relevant curriculum initiatives.
Professionally, he currently serves as the Executive Director of the Highland Business Association which represents the Highland Park business community. In that role he also serves as the Chair of the Southwest Business Coalition. In March 2021, he was elected by the Minnesota Legislature to serve a six year term on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, representing the 4th Congressional District. He also serves on the Board of Directors and Governance Committee of CAPI, an immigrant and refugee resource and service organization.
An ardent supporter of the Twin Cities restaurant scene, James lives in the Summit-University neighborhood of Saint Paul, right down the street from the Rondo Complex and Martin Luther King Recreation Center with three roommates, all proud alumni of Saint Paul Public Schools.
Learn more about why James is running here.