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Three of four Washington County Board seats will be contested

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES
  • Star Tribune
  • June 10, 2012 - 12:09 AM

Three incumbent Washington County commissioners will have opponents in the fall general election, and a Stillwater City Council member who opposed the St. Croix River bridge project as too costly won't run again.

Dennis Hegberg, the longest-serving member of the County Board, has a challenger in Mayor Fran Miron of Hugo. Miron filed just hours before Tuesday's deadline for the District 1 seat, which represents Hugo, Forest Lake and Scandia.

"My experience in local government will benefit Washington County by providing a new perspective," said Miron, who represents a city that's had the fastest rate of growth in the metro area in recent years.

In other County Board races, incumbent Bill Pulkrabek will face challengers Ted Bearth and Joe Delaney Sr. in District 2, which includes Oakdale and the northwest portion of Woodbury. In District 5, incumbent Lisa Weik will face former Woodbury City Council member and retired science teacher Nancy Remakel in a race to decide who represents greater Woodbury, the county's largest city.

"I think I have the ability to look at the big picture of things," said Remakel, who also has served on the county Library Board and the Woodbury Planning Commission. "I'll be working for the entire county."

A fourth commissioner on the fall ballot, Gary Kriesel, will run unopposed. He represents District 3, which includes Stillwater, Oak Park Heights and Bayport. His district also now includes Lake Elmo after the county board redrew district boundaries this spring.

The only County Board seat that won't be contested this year is held by the board's newest member, Autumn Lehrke, who represents the south end of Washington County. That seat, in District 4, goes to the ballot in 2014.

County commissioners manage a $166.9 million expense budget for 2012 that pays for services such as roads, libraries and law enforcement. They earn $52,713 a year.

Bearth, who preceded Pulkrabek as mayor in Oakdale, is a Marine veteran and serves on the Oakdale Veterans Memorial Committee. He is founder of the Oakdale Athletic Association, treasurer of the Maplewood-Oakdale Lions Club, co-chairperson of the Oakdale Summerfest and a current member of the Oakdale Parks and Recreation Committee.

Delaney is a past challenger for Pulkrabek's seat. The Oakdale resident is a high school physics and math teacher in Minneapolis, has been a housing developer, and said he's running for the County Board to work to support businesses and create a climate for more jobs.

The three District 2 candidates will compete in an Aug. 14 primary election, a requirement for any race with more than two candidates, said Kevin Corbid, deputy administrator in Washington County. Two candidates getting the most votes move to the general election ballot in November.

Cities that hold primary elections also had a filing deadline of last Tuesday. The most pivotal race thus far will be in Stillwater, where Micky Cook will give up her Ward 2 seat after a single term on the City Council.

She often stood alone in votes related to a new St. Croix River bridge, arguing that while reducing traffic congestion in Stillwater was a worthy goal, spending millions of dollars on a major bridge project was not. Cook, a retired Hennepin County assistant attorney, also has raised concerns about the cost of a proposed new city fire hall.

"It was a really difficult decision and I feel badly I waited until the final hour," Cook said. Giving up her seat, she said, was a "personal decision" unrelated to acrimony on the council.

Four candidates filed for the seat: Cassie McLemore, Ted Kozlowski, Adam Frederick and Tom Corbett. A second sitting member of the Stillwater City Council, Jim Roush, filed for re-election. He has one opponent, Tom Weidner.

Several other Washington County cities have elections this year, although candidates for most of them won't be known until that filing period begins July 31.

The other city that had a filing deadline last week -- the small portion of Hastings that falls within Washington County -- has three candidates for a Ward 1 seat. They are Anthony Alongi, Michael Grady and Justin Westman.

Washington County also has filings for five Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors: Bob Rosenquist and Randy Ferrin in District 1; Jim Levitt in District 2; John Rheinberger and Sarah Hietpas in District 3; Louise Smallidge in District 4, and George Weyer in District 5.

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037 Twitter: @stribgiles

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