North metro voters make some changes to councils, board

  • Article by: MARIA ELENA BACA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 13, 2012 - 4:27 PM

Mayoral upsets occurred in Ramsey and Crystal. The status quo won in Blaine, Andover and East Bethel. St. Francis, Brooklyn Park and other cities had mixed results.

In a few north metro cities, last week's elections brought upsets for mayor or city council. For others, they meant an affirmation of the status quo.

In Ramsey, Sarah Strommen unseated Mayor Bob Ramsey. Strommen is a City Council member who challenged others on the council over millions of dollars spent on city-financed development deals.

Strommen said Thursday her sense is that voters were motivated by dissatisfaction about the city's image, how members of the council work together and concerns about how involved the city should be in guiding development there. Ramsey has been the target of complaints over its handling of its COR development -- the city-owned remains of a failed Town Center project.

"There was an issue about image of the city, the image of discord that was here," she said. "I think people are wanting to see a city and a council that are functioning together instead of having so much negativity."

Another council member, Colin McGlone, lost his seat to challenger Mark Kuzma. Chris Riley and John LeTourneau are the other newcomers to the council. Riley won the seat Strommen vacated to run for mayor, and LeTourneau took over for Jeff Wise, who lost out to him and Joe Field in the August primary.

In Crystal, Jim Adams upset Mayor ReNae Bowman, while incumbent City Council Member Julie Deshler retook her seat. Casey Peak and Laura Libby won two other seats. Of the three, only Libby's seat was contested.

In recent years, Crystal has seen conflict over expenditures on city services, culminating in an announcement last year that it intended to withdraw from its partnership with New Hope to fund and operate the West Metro Fire Rescue District. The two cities agreed on a new arrangement in June after six months of sometimes contentious discussion. Adams, a paid on-call firefighter and president of the Firefighters Relief Association, said he hopes to moderate relations inside and outside of City Hall. That issue was at least a part of Adams' decision to run.

Adams said he hopes to create more opportunities for residents to have their voices heard, in and out of the council chambers.

Champlin also will see a change in leadership. With the departure of Mayor Mark Uglem, who mounted a successful GOP run for the Minnesota House, City Council Member ArMand Nelson won a three-way race for the city's top job. He narrowly defeated council colleague Greg Payer and homegrown businessman Ryan Sabas. Kara Terry and Bruce Miller won the seats that Nelson and Payer vacated to run for mayor.

In St. Francis, incumbent Jerry Tveit handily defeated William Gardner for a third term as mayor. One of the two seats went to an incumbent: Tim Brown won another term after losing in 2010 and then being appointed in 2011 to fill out the position vacated when LeRoy Schafer resigned from the council. Another incumbent, Jeff Sandoval, had a different fortune, coming in third after Mike Haggard.

In other cities, the election brought little or no change.

• In Blaine, for example, Mayor Tom Ryan and incumbent City Council Members Dick Swanson, Russ Herbst and Mike Bourke all were swept back into office; Ryan and Herbst were unopposed, while Swanson and Bourke handily defeated their opponents.

• The same thing happened in Andover, where Mayor Mike Gamache ran unopposed and Council Members Michael Knight and Sheri Bukkila easily won back their seats. Tony Howard, who was appointed last year to finish out Don Jacobson's term, won that seat.

• In Brooklyn Park, incumbents Mike Trepanier and Peter Crema both reclaimed their seats on the City Council. City blogger and former Minnesota House member John Jordan won the open seat created by the retirement of Dean Heng. Jordan defeated former Council Member Terry Gearin, whose wife, Council Member Jeanette Meyer, died last spring.

• In East Bethel, where the past two years have been marked by discord over the city's sewer and water project, Mayor Richard Lawrence won a second term, defeating challenger Tanner Balfany. The two council members whose terms were ending chose not to run again; their seats were taken by Tom Ronning and Ron Koller, both of whom opposed the project.

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409

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