Less than a week before the city of Ramsey holds a special election for City Council, it’s as difficult to predict who will vote as it is who will be elected.
When the city held a special election for a vacant council seat two summers ago, a total of 320 votes were cast. Last November, Sarah Strommen received 6,879 votes en route to her election as Ramsey mayor. But in August of 2011, she needed only 186 votes to make her the overwhelming winner in the special election to replace David Jeffrey, who resigned for health reasons.
On Tuesday, July 30, Jill Johns and Tom Heifort will be the candidates on the ballot vying for the Ward 1 seat vacated by David Elvig, who resigned from the council in April after a conviction for theft by swindle, unrelated to city business. Johns, 51, spent 16 years as the chair or vice chair of Ramsey’s Parks and Recreation Commission. Heifort, 63, says this is his first run for office on any level.
“I’ve been knocking on doors and I’ve learned that a lot of people weren’t aware that there’s a special election coming up,” said Johns. “On a Tuesday in July, you don’t know what kind of turnout to expect.”
Johns, who works in the compliance and ethics department of McKesson Medical-Surgical in Golden Valley, has lived in Ramsey for 21 years and has been a member of the park board for nearly as long. She’s also been involved with the Ramsey Youth Athletic Association and Northern Lights Soccer board.
Heifort, a Teamster for 32 years, moved to Ramsey 18 years ago. Retired since 2006, he stays busy officiating baseball, football and basketball games.
“I’ve always been interested in something like this,” he said. “I have no agenda. I want to listen, learn and give my opinion.
“This is a growing community, with a lot of building,” Heifort said. “It seems like we’ve got a pretty decent council now. I’d like to be part of this. I think I can contribute.”
Johns said she decided to run for City Council for the same reason she’s worked with the city’s park commission: “I truly believe in giving back to the community.”
Her experience with the parks commission can only help, she says. She’s worked with four mayors and numerous council members throughout the years and says she’s confident that “I can step right in” and work with a council that already has replaced three members since last year. She agrees that the “council is moving in the right direction.”
“I want to bring my experience and skills to the City Council,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed learning how the city works and shapes it’s policies. I want to be part of that.”