Howarth elected city's treasurer by write-in votes
Six write-in votes were all it took for Steve Howarth to be elected to a job that no one wanted.
Without filing for office or doing any campaigning, he won the spot of city treasurer in Minnetonka Beach, one of a few Minnesota cities that had no candidates running for open seats this election year.
The wealthy Lake Minnetonka town of 540 residents can operate without a treasurer, but as a charter city, it's required to fill the spot. No one filed for office, so the choice was left up to 51 write-in ballots cast by voters on Nov. 8. Howarth, a member of the city's Planning Commission, was the top vote-getter with six of the 51 write-in votes, beating the next vote-getter by a single vote. The City Council approved the results Monday. The treasurer position is unpaid and runs for two years. The treasurer attends city meetings and reviews expenses.
The city, wedged in a peninsula on the lake, had no contested races. The election still drew 364 of 406 registered voters, a 90 percent turnout — higher than that for the state as a whole and Hennepin County.
Sentencing is delayed for former mayor Harycki
Sentencing for former Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki, who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion in 2015, has been set for Jan. 31. He had been scheduled for sentencing last week.
That will make two years since Harycki was convicted of defrauding the federal government at his Stillwater accounting and payroll business, leading to a tax loss of more than $2 million.
His crimes occurred during the two terms he served as the city's mayor, although criminal charges filed against him didn't relate to his elected position. He resigned as mayor in late 2014.
Harycki's sentencing awaits the trial of his alleged co-conspirators, Thurlee and Roylee Belfrey, scheduled to begin Jan. 3 in Minneapolis federal court. Prosecutors have said that Harycki must provide them with "substantial" assistance in exchange for a possible reduced sentence.
Section of Mississippi River Regional Trail open
A new stretch of the Mississippi River Regional Trail has been opened, a 4.3-mile segment that runs through Spring Lake Park Reserve and was under construction for the past year and a half.
The $8.8 million project in Rosemount and Nininger Township includes three overlooks, a "bench" that extends to the upper plateau of Schaar's Bluff and two pedestrian bridges with overlooks and interpretive signs.
The project also features an outdoor classroom that will offer environmental education programs.
The Mississippi River Regional Trail connects South St. Paul and Hastings.
Council pledges support for city's minority groups
The Minneapolis City Council on Friday declared its support for the city's minority groups and denounced policies that council members said they anticipate from President-elect Donald Trump's administration.
In two resolutions, council members condemned hate speech against Muslims and said they would "fight for the rights, freedoms and interests of all of the members of our community." The resolutions followed a statement Thursday by Mayor Betsy Hodges, who rejected the suggestion by a prominent Trump supporter that 1940s-era Japanese internment camps offered a "precedent" for a registry of immigrants from Muslim countries.
The council spent about 20 minutes discussing its "One Minneapolis" resolution and how it would defend immigrants and Muslims. The registry idea "brings back haunting memories of what happened to people just like myself less than a century ago," said Council Member Abdi Warsame, a Muslim and a Somali whose ward includes many refugees.
"I think now more than ever the role of cities is going to matter in standing up for and protecting our communities," Council Member Alondra Cano said.