With Ken Harycki stepping down, Stillwater now has a wide-open mayor’s race heading into an era of change and uncertainty for its historic downtown business district.
The new mayor will be either Ted Kozlowski or John Rheinberger, unless one of them withdraws from the race. Kozlowski, owner of DemandQuest, is a first-term City Council member. Rheinberger, an attorney, served on the City Council more than a decade ago.
Two other City Council members, Mike Polehna and Doug Menikheim, also filed for re-election to their current positions by last week’s filing deadline. Menikheim has an opponent, Ryan Collins.
Harycki announced in May that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election after two terms as mayor. Federal agents raided his private accounting firm in March, but authorities haven’t said why and no charges have been filed. Harycki has said the raid related to a former client.
In coming years, the Stillwater City Council will figure strongly into a post-Lift Bridge era when commuter traffic moves to a new four-lane St. Croix River bridge in Oak Park Heights in 2016. A new state trail entering Stillwater and a new and smaller summer festival also will shape the city’s future as a tourist destination.
Stillwater candidates appeared in the first of two candidate filing windows this summer because the city has a primary election held Aug. 12. Candidates in other cities will file from July 29 to Aug. 12.
In county races, former state Rep. Karla Bigham will challenge incumbent Autumn Lehrke for the District 4 seat on the County Board. That seat represents Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport, Denmark Township and Grey Cloud Island Township.
First-term incumbent Ted Bearth now has an opponent, Jeremy Olson. That seat, in District 2, represents Oakdale, Landfall, Birchwood, Pine Springs, Willernie and a few precincts in Woodbury, Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake.
Sheriff Bill Hutton and County Attorney Pete Orput will run unopposed, as will Soil and Water Conservation Supervisors Jim Levitt and Louise Smallidge.
Hastings residents who live in the small corner of that city that is situated in Washington County will vote for two at-large council members, as well as for mayor.
Incumbent Mayor Paul Hicks is running unopposed. The City Council seats, however, are a different story. Voters will choose among Joanna Bayers, Lori Braucks, Blaine Hornbuckle, Ian Martin, Mark Vaughn and Tom Wright for the council seats left open by retiring incumbents.