Rosemount voters will have plenty to pick from at the polls in November: A whopping 29 candidates have filed to run for two City Council seats.

"FILING FEE is ONLY $5.00! Salary $6,000 per year," proclaimed a newsletter that went out to thousands of residents encouraging them to run. It added that council members attend two meetings a month and get time off when they need it.

It also mentioned a City Council member who is up for reelection as a "staunch supporter of eminent domain" who "needs to be replaced." It's unclear how many candidates entered the race because of the newsletter or the eminent-domain controversy.

Whatever the case, the deluge has turned the race into a kind of circus, Mayor Bill Droste said Wednesday. "Just statistically -- even if there were one or two really good candidates in there -- the numbers are just going to be extremely difficult for someone to win," he said.

Rosemount's City Council race, a contest with no primary election, has attracted just four or five contenders in recent years. All but four of the candidates filed early this week, with 16 signing up on Tuesday before the 5 p.m. deadline. Candidates have until the close of business today to withdraw.

Jeff Weisensel, who said he decided to run before the newsletter came out, said he hopes people who aren't serious will drop out. "I truly think that there are people that honest-to-goodness want to participate in the best way, and there's others that it was taken as a joke, and threw their names in because, for five dollars, it wasn't a big deal," he said.

Others see it differently. "It's total dissatisfaction with the council," said Barry Lindahl, who signed up on Tuesday. "They do not listen to the people of Rosemount. You go to meetings and hear all this public opinion and the council votes directly against it! And I'm thinking, 'What's going on? Do you have your ears plugged or what?'"

When he got the newsletter, he said, "I read that and thought, 'This makes sense.'"

The issue of eminent domain

Rosemount has seen a heated debate over a downtown redevelopment project, now under construction, for which the city threatened to force the sale of property owned by local resident Kurt Hansen.

The newsletter, called "Chimes of Freedom," includes a full-page political ad paid for by Hansen, who ran for a House seat in the Legislature but lost in Tuesday's primary election to Phillip Sterner, one of the current City Council members whose seat is open this fall. Hansen fought a years-long battle with the city over redevelopment on Hwy. 3 before selling property, under threat of condemnation, in December.

Hansen said Wednesday he has donated to "Chimes of Freedom" in the past, but was surprised by the notice urging people to file for office. The newsletter identified its compiler as resident Kathy Klonecky, who could not be reached for comment.

Mike Baxter, the only incumbent in the race, said Wednesday that he has long known that eminent domain would be an issue when he ran for reelection. "I was out front on my support for the [Hwy. 3] development, and to the extent that people don't want to see downtown redevelopment, I think those people would be against my candidacy," he said. But Baxter added he thinks it's unlikely the city will deal with another eminent-domain controversy in the next few years.

'A healthy interest'

Serving on the council generally means a lot more than two meetings a month, the mayor pointed out. "We also have work sessions. We have goal sessions. We have commissions that we fill each year," Droste said.

But other than the "simplistic" way the newsletter described the work of the council, Baxter said he had no problem with the newsletter.

"The fact that that many people are interested in serving on the City Council is a healthy thing. People are interested in their government," he said. "I'm trying to figure out how you actually have a campaign or an election with 29 people on the ballot."

Staff writer David Peterson contributed to this report. Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016