Change was in the air Tuesday in West St. Paul, where a mayoral seat and three City Council spots were up for grabs.
The elections capped a year in which the city manager resigned under pressure from some council members, Mayor Jenny Halverson alleged sexism on the all-male council, and a male council member said gender had influenced the mayor’s appointments.
Halverson chose not to run again, opening up the mayor’s race to a contest between two City Council members — Dave Napier, who defeated Anthony Fernandez.
In the Third Ward, newcomer Wendy Berry, who denounced the alleged sexism, defeated David Meisinger, a former mayor, for the City Council seat being vacated by Jay Bellows. John Justen defeated Jim Probst in the Second Ward race, while Richard Vitelli ran unopposed in the First Ward.
West St. Paul voters also approved a half-cent sales tax, estimated to bring in $1.3 million annually. Council members said the tax was needed to fund street projects after the costly $46 million Robert Street reconstruction.
Dakota County Board
Dakota County voters had only one commissioner on the ballot, for the Second District seat covering West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake and part of Inver Grove Heights. Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord, on the board since 2002, won another term after defeating Todd Podgorski, a South St. Paul City Council member who also has served on the local school board. Gaylord is an attorney who served as South St. Paul mayor for a decade.
Another try at Scott County Board
In Scott County, Joe Wagner lost his bid to get back on the County Board, falling to incumbent Mike Beard in the race for the Third District seat. Wagner, a funeral home owner and longtime Jordan resident, served on the Scott County Board for nearly two decades in a different district before losing in 2016. He had to prove he lives in Shakopee in order to run. Beard, a former legislator, has held the seat for four years.