A Lino Lakes City Council candidate trailing by just two votes said she will ask for a recount in a contentious election in which the city’s restrictive charter was hotly debated.
Two at-large council seats were on the ballot. Incumbent Rob Rafferty sailed to victory with 866 votes. Park Board member William Kusterman finished second with 785 votes, followed by Melissa Maher with 783 votes. A fourth candidate who didn’t actively campaign, Park Board member Bryon Roland, won 238 votes.
Maher said she’ll seek a recount. “Everybody would ask for it,” Maher said.
“Has there ever been a recount that’s come back with the same number of votes?” asked Maher, noting that recount totals often differ from the original election night tallies.
“I am very, very disappointed to have lost by only two votes,” Maher said. “That’s crazy. It makes me feel so bad for everyone that helped me so much.”
Kusterman, who was removing campaign signs Wednesday morning, said he’d already heard a recount would be requested.
The candidates fiercely debated Lino Lakes’ charter, under which a citywide vote is needed in nearly all instances to rebuild a city street. According to the city administrator, it’s one of the most restrictive charters in the state.
Voters have approved only one road rebuild in the past three decades. Critics of the charter say it promotes a “not my neighborhood, not my problem” mentality, but proponents say it prevents government overreach. Rafferty and Kusterman support loosening it to allow roads to be rebuilt without a referendum. Maher believes the requirements are just right and protecting taxpayers.
Kusterman, 52, is an executive director of Ernst & Young in Minneapolis. Maher, 45, is an attorney with the Minneapolis law firm of Lockridge Grindal Nauen. She served on the city’s charter commission from 2007 to 2010.