I am getting a number of questions about local races and non-partisan races in Rochester so I figured I would share my thoughts on some of the contested races. This allows me to answer the questions I have been getting only once. Often there is more than one good candidate and when there is I write some about the person as well.
- Always vote for incumbent judges unless you have a very good reason not to. There are crazy people on the ballot. Vote for the incumbents.
School Board (vote for the 4 women):
- Seat 2 – Melissa Amundsen is far and the best candidate. I do not feel her opponent would be a worthy school board member.
- Seat 4 – Julie Workman has a tough race and she deserves your support. I have worked closely with Julie on a number of School Board Issues. I would urge my friends to support Julie. Her candidate is capable and I think he would do a pretty good job. That said; he was endorsed by the local GOP in a non-partisan race and has has outside developer money paying for campaign ads. Developers will have a vested interest in school development policy.
- Seat 5 – Jean Marvin is a tremendous board member and deserves your vote. Her opponent can’t figure out if he is running or not.
- Seat 6 – Cathy Nathan is far and away the best candidate. I do not feel her opponent would put the needs of our children first.
- Mayor – Kim Norton is the only qualified candidate. I don’t care how nice someone might be… After 16 years of ignoring big issues like affordable housing, we need a mayor who is going to treat the position like a serious job and not a photo opportunity.
- Ward 1 – Patrick Keane is the best qualified and most capable candidate. Though he is probably more conservative than Heather Holmes, he is smart and has worked incredible hard on his campaign. I am more troubled about who is funding Heather’s campaign than I am about Heather herself. It is pretty clear that Patrick has NOT been anointed by Rochester’s Good ‘Ol Boys, and I like that. Both candidates are capable and I could work with either.
- Ward 3 – Nick Campion is the only capable candidate in this race and he does a pretty good job.
- Ward 5 – No matter who wins this will be a huge step up for the community. Mark Hickey’s time on the city council was disappointing at best. I have a hard time describing him as anything but lazy, ideological, and uninformed by choice. Had he run for reelection, he would have lost by margins similar to what Bruce Snyder lost by. Shaun Palmer is the best choice for Ward 5. He has run unsuccessfully many times however that has created great knowledge. He also sees some of the same city issues that I have been pushing for many years. I am certain he will not be another puppet of special interests. He will be a strong advocate for parks. Judy Hickey has actually impressed my quite a bit. It is hard not to associate her with her husband, but she is quite smart and has really gone out of her way to study city government. I think she might be successful if she is willing to be more accessible than her husband.
- District 4 – John Helmers is the change Olmsted County needs. His opponent was part of the county gerrymandering that took place in 2011. John will support the county role in affordable housing, his opponent has not.
- County Attorney – This may be a very competitive race so don’t leave it blank. Both candidates are good people. I am supporting Geoff Hjerleid. Geoff pretty much has the support of the entire attorneys office and that says something. The incumbent, Mark Ostrem’s views on marijuana look back to a war on drugs which has unjustly targeted communities of color. Mark also was the county attorney at the time that the County Board directed planning staff to draw up districts which prevented Rochester from having fair representation. Basic rules of fair districting were ignored. For example, A large municipality should not have more than 1 district startling is boundaries. Many years ago I wrote a detailed analysis of what happened. Many of the staff people who were involved are now retired and they have confirmed that the county board members drew their own maps for their own personal benefit. The county attorney can be a key advocate in restoring fair districts in 2021. Small point, I will also note that Mark has not asked me for my vote in 10 years. I would like to see the next county attorney do more to support our immigrant communities.
- Other races are not contested.
Olmsted Soil & Water Conservation District:
- I support Cheryl Winters. There is only one contested seat and I bet if you didn’t read this you might not have known.
- Other seats are not contested.