South metro results: Scott County Board members hold off challengers

  • Article by: DAVID PETERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 7, 2012 - 10:12 AM

Elections south of the river featured intense races in some cities, Scott and Dakota counties.

Three Scott County commissioners, who faced seemingly strong challenges after a move last winter to topple the county administrator failed, all held onto their seats on Tuesday, two by large margins.

Incumbent Joe Wagner had the stiffest competition, besting Jerry Kucera by less than 300 votes, a 2 percent margin. Tom Wolf and Dave Menden, meanwhile, cruised to victory with 60-40 and 59-41 percent margins against opponents Brent Lawrence and Debbie Barber, respectively.

In Dakota County, Lakeville Mayor Mark Bellows was unseated by fellow City Council Member Matt Little, who had raised a substantial amount of money by the standards of a typical suburban mayoral campaign. Little won 44 percent of the vote, while Bellows won 39 percent. Council member Laurie Rieb had 17 percent.

But longtime Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, under fire for years from unhappy fiscal conservatives in her city, expanded her margin of victory in a rematch with opponent Jerry Willenburg. Kautz won 57 percent of the vote, compared to 54 percent when she faced Willenburg in 2008.

In races for the Dakota County Board, former Republican legislator Chris Gerlach handily won his race for an open seat representing Apple Valley and part of Rosemount, but Commissioner Nancy Schouweiler eked out a narrow victory over Bill Klein, a member of the Inver Grove Heights City Council. Gerlach won 60 percent of the vote, while Schouweiler had 51 percnet in her race.

In Dakota County's First District, Hastings City Council Member Mike Slavik won easily over Farmington City Council Member Christy Jo Fogarty in a race for the seat being vacated by longtime Commissioner Joe Harris. Slavik took home 58 percent of the vote.

Of the other four seats on the County Board, three were up for election this year. Incumbents Tom Egan and Paul Krause were unopposed, and incumbent Liz Workman of Burnsville cruised over challenger Dave Giles.

In Scott County, a costly but fruitless investigation last winter into the alleged misdeeds of County Administrator Gary Shelton helped fuel races targeting Board Chairman Wolf, first-termer Menden and veteran board member Wagner.

Wagner, who himself was targeted in an investigation that came to naught, was facing Kucera for the second time after beating him in 2010.

Lakeville's mayoral race was acrimonious and surprisingly awash in campaign cash. Mayor Bellows, who himself unseated a mayor in 2008, faced a youthful but hard-charging council newcomer in Little, along with 12-year veteran Laurie Rieb.

Little raised eyebrows by raising more than $18,000 for his campaign, but he also was attacked by a national super PAC.

In other races, four incumbents held onto their seats on the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school board. Sandra Sweep, Ron Hill and DeeDee Currier finished atop a seven-candidate field for three four-year terms, and Robert Vandenboom placed first out of three contenders for a two-year seat.

In a four-way race for two seats on the Burnsviille City Council, incumbent Mary Sherry and newcomer Suzanne Nguyen beat Steve Cherney and Bruce Johnson.

dapeterson@startribune.com • 952-746-3285

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