Beyond the wooden fence in the thickly weeded yard of the home that Anoka County board candidate Kevin Ryan lists as his residence, 11 abandoned vehicles sit and rust, some sprouting vegetation.

The water on Ryan's property was turned off two years ago, said his Linwood Township neighbor, Tom Docken, who said he sees Ryan in this northern Anoka County community for only a few minutes each week. Docken said he is convinced Ryan lives elsewhere.

Voters may not know much about Ryan, but law enforcement officials do: He has been jailed in Anoka, Chisago and Itasca counties, for alleged offenses such as disorderly conduct, DWI-related cases, obstructing the legal process and contempt of court, among other things.

His most recent known jailing was in August 2006 in Itasca County for unpaid fines, no proof of insurance and for not showing up in court. He also was jailed there on three occasions in 2005, for DWI on one occasion and for refusing to take a breath test on another occasion, Chief Deputy Terry Snyder said Monday.

Ryan is known to have be convicted only once in Anoka County -- for a traffic violation involving his car lights in 2005.

But Ryan has been jailed five times in Anoka for two moving violations, disturbing the peace and contempt of court. He also was named in 86 separate police reports filed with the Anoka County sheriff, most of them involving civil disputes. In many of the civil disputes, he was the complainant.

Yet, so little is known about this three-time candidate for county commissioner, who survived the Sept. 9 primary, that incumbent Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah says, "I can't tell you anything about him" -- even though this is her third campaign against him.

Invisible campaign

Ryan lists no financial contributors to his campaign and has been virtually unreachable during each of his three runs for Anoka County's Sixth District commissioner's seat, said Rachel Smith, the county's election manager.

Ryan, who makes money landscaping and trimming trees, according to Linwood Township officials, could not be reached by the Star Tribune. He did not return phone calls left by the newspaper with relatives and acquaintances.

"He does have some problems, but he's completely intelligent on some things," said longtime Anoka County Commissioner Dick Lang, who said he hired Ryan years ago to trim trees. Lang said he spoke with Ryan a few weeks ago, and Ryan expressed surprise that 27 Linwood Township residents had voted for him. Lang said a puzzled Ryan commented to him, "They know me."

In the Sept. 9 primary, Sivarajah collected 1,825 votes to 321 for Ryan and 285 for candidate Patrick Davern. The top two vote-getters move on to the November election.

Ryan's mother, Arlene Ryan, calls her son "the kindest person I know." But other than saying her son is single and loves animals, she declined to talk about him.

Some others paint a different picture, according to reports furnished by Lt. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.

In 1999, for instance, a Stacy woman said that Ryan shoved her, knocked her to the ground, kicked snow in her face and called her abusive names, according to Sheriff's Office reports. In 2001, Ryan received a citation for being a public nuisance after a neighbor complained that Ryan had purposely blown snow into the neighbor's driveway.

Why does he keep running for office?

"He just runs," Lang said. "Only Kevin knows why."

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419