Tight fight unfolds for north metro council spots

November 8, 2017 GMT

Crowded City Council races in St. Anthony and Lino Lakes brought a mix of old faces and new to Tuesday ballots in the north metro, with several political newcomers battling incumbents in closely watched contests.

In St. Anthony, six candidates vied for two City Council seats in a race that has been guided by thorny debates over police accountability, affordable housing and racial equity. Results were unavailable as of press time.

The suburb has weathered widespread scrutiny in the wake of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer in July 2016. The June closure of the citys only mobile home park has also fueled a wave of grass roots activism, spurring rallies and calls for resignations at City Hall.

Four challengers seeking to unseat incumbents Randy Stille and Jan Jenson say St. Anthony needs new leadership, while Stille and Jenson have stood behind the citys response to recent events, touting various equity and policing initiatives the city has undertaken.

A third council seat on the five-member council will also be filled in the coming months, following the August resignation of Bonnie Brever.

Lino Lakes

Six candidates squared off for two City Council seats in Lino Lakes, while Mayor Jeff Reinert ran unopposed and sailed into his fifth term.

Meanwhile, incumbents Rob Rafferty and Bill Kusterman faced a tight race. Rafferty edged ahead of the pack with a narrow early lead, followed closely by Dale Stoesz, who was previously on the council from 2012 to 2015.

The contest brought to the fore debates about road upkeep as well as the future of the citys 46-year-old public works facility, with opinions divided over whether to rehabilitate the existing structure or build anew.

Early estimates for the potential project have ranged from $10 million to nearly $13 million a point of contention among some candidates.

City Council hopefuls also raised concerns over maintaining the suburbs prized trails and parks, calling the green space a key facet of the citys rustic charm.

Still, the relatively quiet race offered a stark contrast to the heated local election two years ago, when rancor ran deep over the citys controversial decision to exit the three-city Centennial Fire District and form its own.