Six suburbs elect new mayors; councils also see fresh faces

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2009 - 2:07 PM

From Prior Lake to Lino Lakes, voters had their say on issues of taxation, development and fiscal philosophy.

New mayors were elected in several suburban cities Tuesday night as voters decided disputes over leadership style, development, spending and taxation.

Prior Lake, Maplewood, New Brighton, Osseo and Lino Lakes all will have new mayors. So will White Bear Lake, where voters were picking the city's first new mayor since 1994. Shakopee's veteran mayor survived.

Prior Lake

In Prior Lake, a candidate who denounced what he called a "spending spree" at city hall became the new mayor, defeating a popular rock 'n' roll singer who was by far the leading municipal vote-getter two years ago.

"The beauty of our little democracy is that people get a chance to say, 'Here's what I really want,'" said longtime corporate executive Mike Myser, who defeated City Council member Steve Millar as Millar sought to move over to the mayor's chair.

Eight-year Mayor Jack Haugen, during whose tenure several major building projects were undertaken, opted not to seek another term.

Richard Keeney, another anti-establishment candidate, was elected to the City Council, but a third dissident candidate was trailing, making it seem likely the council would be left mostly in the hands of people associated with the status quo.

Maplewood

Challenger Will Rossbach will become Maplewood's new mayor after a race that amounted to a clash in leadership styles.

"The thing that probably made the difference is the four-year history of the Maplewood City Council," Rossbach said. "Overall I think people don't like or didn't like the direction the city was going."

Rossbach, a council member, had criticized Mayor Diana Longrie for conducting long, inefficient meetings and described a city in turmoil. Longrie had defended her work on behalf of an open and accessible city government.

On the City Council, a candidate who had been targeted in an apparent hate-mail campaign won a seat. That newcomer, James Llanas, and incumbent Kathy Juenemann prevailed in a field of four candidates.

New Brighton

In a major upset, political newcomer Dave Jacobsen defeated Mayor Steve Larson.

Larson was seeking a sixth term and has held political office in New Brighton -- first as a City Council member and then as mayor -- for more than two decades.

"I gave 22 years to make New Brighton better, and we'll see that down the line," he said.

Jacobsen is a retired environmental manager who had called for new leadership to revive the city's Northwest Quadrant redevelopment project.

In the race for two City Council seats, former state legislator Char Samuelson joined incumbent Gina Bauman as winners.

Shakopee

Mayor John Schmitt was reelected despite a fierce attack from two fiscally conservative challengers, including a veteran council member. The combined vote for those two candidates, Council Member Matt Lehman and newcomer CJ Walor, was not far short of Schmitt's own total. 

Osseo

In Osseo, which is switching to even-year municipal elections in 2010 as a way to increase turnout and decrease costs, incumbent John Hall lost in the mayor's race to Steven Menth, a City Council member. Menth will serve for only one year before the mayor's office is up for election again. He won by more than a 3-2 ratio. He will be joined on the council by two newcomers, Duane Poppe and Mark Schulz, who beat out incumbent Brian Kleven and Matthew Johnson. The two will serve three-year terms.

Lino Lakes

Challenger Jeff Reinert, a City Council member, stormed into the mayor's office with a win over incumbent John Bergeson and challenger Connie Sutherland. Three City Council seats were won by incumbent Jeffrey O'Donnell and Rob Rafferty and Dave Roeser.

White Bear Lake

Jo Emerson defeated Renee Tessier to become the city's first new mayor since 1994. Incumbent Paul Auger did not seek reelection. In a contested City Council race in Ward 4, Kevin Edberg beat Pam Johnson.

Staff writers Allie Shah, Heron Marquez and David Peterson contributed to this report. Kevin Giles • 612-673-4432

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