Transformation Northfield and the election campaigns of Rhonda Pownell, Jeff Quinnell, and Dan Cupersmith

In Feb. of 2011, I published a post titled What is Transformation Northfield’s public agenda? that detailed my concerns about the local public officials who were involved with the group.

Two of the local political leaders I featured in that piece were At-large Northfield City Councilor Rhonda Pownell and Northfield School board member Jeff Quinnell.  Rhonda is running for mayor of Northfield; if she loses, she’ll retain her At-Large seat. Jeff has decided to not run again for the School Board and instead, is running for Rice County Commissioner, District 2.

New on the local political scene is Dan Cupersmith who’s running for Northfield School Board. Dan is a member of Transformation Northfield and Rejoice! Church.

1. Rhonda Pownell

Rhonda Pownell (2)I spoke with Rhonda after one of the election forums at the Cow and told her that while I was initially concerned about her connection to Transformation Northfield (TN) and Rejoice!, I was no longer worried.  Yes, she abstained on the marriage amendment vote and was the only council member to vote against the domestic partner registry ordinance this summer and I disagree with her on those issues. But those votes in my mind have been outweighed by her overall performance as a councilor and to my knowledge, she’s never spoken or acted in a way that would convey she believes God or Pastor Dan Clites are telling her what’s best for Northfield.

Am I voting for Rhonda or Dana Graham for mayor? I’m still undecided.

2. Jeff Quinnell

Jeff Quinnell (2)I haven’t followed the School Board very closely in the past four years and I have no specifics, pro or con, to say about Jeff’s performance.

It does bother me, however, that on one of his campaign websites he links to his personal Facebook profile where, if you become his ‘friend,’ you’ll see that he regularly posts Bible verses to his Wall, as well as, at times, questionable quotes for a school board member, for example:

"Education is useless without the Bible." — Noah Webster

So Jeff is still a concern to me. I’ll be voting for Galen Malecha.

3. Dan Cupersmith

Dan CupersmithDan and his wife Karianne just returned from the 23rd annual Harvest Evangelism conference in Hawaii with Dan Clites, Brett Reese (co-leaders of Transformation Northfield) and a dozen or more other Northfielders.  You can hear their testimonies in the Oct. 14, 2012 "Aloha to Transformation!" podcast, listed on the Rejoice! Weekly Sermon/Podcast page. A partial quote from Dan Cupersmith:

This is starting with the youth. One of the examples/testimonies that we saw was Valley Christian School in California, a school that was really on the down and out [garbled] and possibly being closed and now has turned around to be one of the top schools in the nation and it was all led through prayer evangelism.

Dan ClitesBrett ReeseThat may not seem like much but it’s worrisome to me, especially when you hear Brett Reese predicting that "Northfield will become a city of God" and Dan Clites proclaiming, "If you really want to change the world, you have to change the marketplace. You gotta change the atmosphere of the government, you gotta change the atmosphere of the education system…"

I will not be voting for Dan Cupersmith for Northfield School Board. I will be voting for Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, and Anne Maple.

The race for Northfield Mayor: Graham vs. Pownell

Dana Graham Rhonda Pownell 
It’s one month till the election and the race for Northfield Mayor is between Dana Graham and Rhonda Pownell.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for Northfield City Council: Buckheit vs. Ludescher; Balster vs. DeLong; Denison vs. Zweifel

David Ludescher Betsey Buckheit Frank Balster David DeLong Jon Denison Erica Zweifel
It’s one month till the election and the races for Northfield City Council are: At-Large, Betsey Buckheit vs. David Ludescher; 2nd Ward, Frank Balster vs. David DeLong; 3rd Ward, Jon Denison vs. Erica Zweifel.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for Rice County Commissioner, Districts 1 and 2: Doran-Norton vs. Jake Gillen; Malecha vs. Quinnell

Galen Malecha Jeff Quinnell Kathleen Doran-Norton Jake Gillen
It’s one month till the election and the race for Rice County Commissioner District 1 is between Kathleen Doran-Norton and Jake Gillen; District 2 race is between Galen Malecha and Jeff Quinnell.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the races with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for Northfield School Board: Cupersmith, Hardy, Iverson, Maple, Stratmoen

Dan Cupersmith, Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, Anne Maple, Noel Stratmoen  (Northfield Patch image)
It’s one month till the election and the race for Northfield School Board is between Dan Cupersmith, Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, Anne Maple, and Noel Stratmoen (top four vote-getters will serve).

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

See the Northfield Patch article, Election 101: Meet Your School Board Candidates

Patch has compiled basic biographical information about this year’s five school board candidates. Click on their names for more information.

The race for MN Senate District 20: Dahle vs. Dudley

Kevin Dahle Mike Dudley
It’s one month till the election and the race for MN Senate District 20 is between Kevin Dahle and Mike Dudley.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for MN House District 20B: Wermerskirchen vs. Bly

Brian Wermerskirchen David Bly
It’s one month till the election and the race for MN House District 20B is between Brian Wermerskirchen and David Bly.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for US president: Obama vs. Romney

Obama and Romney

It’s one month till the election and the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has evidently tightened since last week’s debate.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for US Senate: Klobuchar vs. Bills

Klobuchar and Bills

It’s one month till the election and the race for US Senate is between Amy Klobuchar and Kurt Bills.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for US Congress, District 2: Kline vs. Obermueller

Obermueller and Kline

It’s one month till the election and the race for US Congress, District 2, is between John Kline and Mike Obermueller.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

Election 2012 straw poll: Whom and what are you voting for?

Make your selections, then weigh in with your rationale.










Continue reading Election 2012 straw poll: Whom and what are you voting for?

Bly, Dudley accused of campaign law violations; much ado about nothing?

Election 2012

What’s up with these accusations?

Nfld News: Minnesota House candidate accused of violating state law

One word on David Bly’s campaign signs could lead to the Democrat for District 20B being fined by the state. Bly was elected to serve as representative for District 25B in 2006 and served in that capacity from 2007 to 2010, when he was defeated by Rep. Kelby Woodard. Now the DFLer is campaigning for the newly created District 20B, but is allegedly using the same signs as he did in 2010.

Those signs say “Re-elect David Bly,” and have been placed in lawns across the district for months now, according to a complaint filed Monday with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings. The problem? Bly isn’t the incumbent in the race and state law restricts candidates from using the term “re-elect” in a campaign unless they are the sitting official.

Nfld Patch: GOP’s Dudley Accused of Violating State Law

District 20 Republican Senate candidate Mike Dudley will be before a panel of judges on Wednesday defending himself in a case that accuses him of violating state law because of some of his campaign literature.

Thomas A. Rees of New Market Township filed the complaint in August. Rees believes Dudley violated state law when he didn’t include a disclaimer on campaign material stating who paid for the material, according to the complaint filed with the Minnesota Office of Administrative hearings.


David Bly campaign

Michael Dudley campaign

Local politics gives a boost to the local economy

DFL election HQ in downtown NorthfieldThe DFL has rented a retail space in downtown Northfield as its local election HQ. It’s at 504 Division St., previously the home of Hoffman’s Photography.

Is there a similar retail space for local Republicans? 

Interestingly, both the Rice County DFL blogsite and the Rice County Republicans blogsite need updating.

City Council candidates’ forum at the Cow: a much better format in a fun venue

L to R: Wade Schulz, Paul Reiland, Frank Balster, Steve Engler, Joe Gasior, David Ludescher, Betsey Buckheit Norman Butler Steve Engler L to R: Wade Schulz, Paul Reiland, Frank Balster, Steve Engler, Joe Gasior, David Ludescher, Betsey Buckheit,
Contented Cow proprietor Norman Butler hosted a two-hour forum for Northfield City Council Ward 2 and At-Large candidates last night on the Cow’s outdoor patio.

  • At-Large Council candidates: Betsey Buckheit, Joe Gasior, David Ludescher
  • 2nd Ward Council candidates: Frank Balster, Paul Reiland, Wade Schulz; David DeLong did not attend.

Steve Engler moderated the panel and made it much more interesting by interacting with the candidates when he thought their comments needed to be clarified. I loved it whenever he refused to accept empty platitudes.

Norman Butler, Lance Heisler Don McGee Elizabeth!
Norman goaded citizen/patrons into expressing their opinions instead of just asking questions.

The primary election is Aug. 14. Absentee voting info here.

Gridlock, extremes, partisanship at the Capitol? Unintended consequences of what Northfield’s liberal voters asked for

Star Tribune reporter Richard Meryhew at the Goodbye Blue Monday Coffeehouse in NorthfieldStarTribune reporter Richard Meryhew paid a visit to Northfield and a few other towns in District 25B last week, asking citizens their reaction to the state budget battle at the Capitol.  His story appeared in yesterday’s paper: Voters say: Enough Already.  In politically diverse House District 25B, folks wonder how compromise became a four-letter word at the Capitol.

Among the Northfielders he interviewed: Chuck DeMann, Peggy Prowe, Sue Lloyd, Al Linder, Jim Johnson, and me.

Sue Lloyd was quoted: "How we’ve come to such extremes I don’t know… Are there middle [ground] people? I don’t know anymore."

Sue, we had a "middle ground" legislator not too long ago:  Ray Cox, a moderate Republican by most measures.  Back in 2007, Ray got a measly 26% score from the Taxpayers League, was at times branded at RINO by some in the GOP, and received the endorsement from the Star Tribune.  Ray wrote in a Jan. 2008 blog post after he lost the special Senate election to Kevin Dahle:

Ray CoxIn the recent Senate Special election I was honored to receive the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. That meant a lot to me. The editors and writers there conducted a thorough review of my voting record. They conducted a comprehensive interview about current issues. While they were careful to keep partisan politics out of their discussion, the editors are well aware of the environment that the legislature must conduct its work. They noted my ability to work in a bipartisan manner on state issues in an attempt to resolve some of the more pressing concerns.

Northfield’s liberal voters rejected this moderate Republican and instead voted for Dahle in large numbers.  Likewise, Cox was not enough of a social conservative for a large number of voters in the western part of the district and so they didn’t vote in large enough numbers to offset the liberal vote in Northfield.

Northfield’s liberals won the battle of 2008 but they lost the war in 2010 when the Republicans fielded much more conservative candidates in Al DeKruif and Kelby Woodard who were able to get out the D-25 conservative vote in big numbers.

So for 25B voters to now complain about extremes, partisanship, and gridlock seems a little disingenuous.  Al and Kelby and the rest of the freshman Republicans know who and what got them there.  Why compromise with Gov. Dayton until you have to?

Tom Neuville, Al Quie, Ray CoxWayne Cox, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice, had a commentary in last week’s Strib titled The state’s GOP has lost its way – and many party veterans know it. He criticized the GOP for being "Not Your Mother’s Republican Party" because the voices of moderate Republicans like Arne Carlson, Duane Benson, Dave Jennings, Al Quie, and Dave Durenberger were no longer being heard by the GOP. 

Were he writing about Rice County, he’d likely name Ray Cox and Tom Neuville.

David Bly got hammered by corporate-funded attack ads, AKA free speech

FreeSpeechZoneIn the 2010 election, corporations, big business spoke loudly with support from the Supreme Court’s decision in January. Representative David Bly evidently was targeted by a lot of nasty mailings. 

Strib columnist Nick Coleman writes about it today in a piece titled Business buys itself a new government

But one Democrat who felt the sting of the corporate lash was David Bly, a state representative from the cow-and-college precincts of Northfield who was seeking a third term… The corporate-funded attack ads that flooded his district even slimed him as a crook that would steal cash right out of the hands of the elderly… "It’s outrageous," says Bly. "It was cleverly crafted — it didn’t outright accuse me of being a crook. It only implied it. But I was trying to make the case for why I should be reelected, and I was drowned out by accusations against me that were totally untrue. I had no way I could counter them. My name was dragged through the mud."

I hate those nasty attack ads as much as the next guy.  But it wasn’t too long ago (2004?) that Ray Cox was the target of attack ad mailings that falsely distorted his record as a school board member in his race against David Bly. In 2010, if the backers of Democrats had judged Bly’s 25B seat to be at risk, I think it’s safe to say that similar slime ball attack ads would have targeted Bly’s opponent, Kelby Woodard.

Regardless of the outcome between Bly and Woodard, we’ll have a business-friendly Minnesota legislature come January. I’m eager to see what they can do. Editorial writer Lori Sturdevant in today’s Strib: Well, that worked out pretty well for business

But if the business money that elected Republicans is accompanied by business savvy to truly remake public services into more efficient and effective operations, "reform" and "redesign" will become cues for applause. And Republicans will be more likely to occupy the Capitol’s majority office suites for years to come.

For another perspective on the Supreme Court decision, see Vance Opperman’s opinion piece in the March issue of Twin Cities Business, When Corporations Speak.

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that the free speech protection of the United States Constitution extends to all speakers, regardless of whether they are individuals or corporations. Companies, labor unions, and all other types of entities are free to spend whatever they want to at any time for election communications, as long as they are independent of political parties or candidates.

… The best antidote in a democracy for speech you do not like is more speech. Corporations are not monolithic. Large pharmaceutical companies, some large insurers, and some doctors associations support the current administration’s health care reform. Other corporations do not. There are corporations variously supporting windmills, solar power, natural gas, coal, and petroleum as energy resources—all attempting to persuade our democracy to join them in their divergent positions on energy. Entities such as the National Right to Life Committee and Planned Parenthood share the corporate form, but little else.

Vote today!


Courtesy of the LWV.

(Posted from my G2 Android phone and later edited.)

News analyst Juan Williams fired by NPR

It’s all over the MSM, blogosphere and twittersphere today. MPR’s News Cut blog has a good overview: Should Juan Williams have been fired?

The story of the day today seems to be NPR’s firing of Juan Williams, who exercised the poor judgment to go on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox to admit to being concerned when he sees Muslims on an airplane, but cautioned O’Reilly not to brand Muslims as terrorists.

Lots of Fox and NPR fans in Northfield so this should be a good discussion.

2010 Election: discuss the candidates and the issues

Finally, a place to discuss all the candidates and any issues related!

Reminder: see our discussion guidelines.

Links: if you know of links to A) candidate websites/blogs; or B) candidate profiles/interviews in the media, please paste the URL’s/web addresses in your comment.

Continue reading 2010 Election: discuss the candidates and the issues

Northfield School Board election: Which seats are up? Who’s filing? Anyone? Anyone?

Northfield Public Schools ISD 659 I picked up a Northfield League of Women Voters brochure last week at the HideAway titled “Brief guide to starting your run for office”

I noticed that filing for the Northfield School Board is Aug. 2-17, and that 4 seats are up for election.

There’s no information about whose seats are up on Northfield School Board page nor on the LWV site. Anyone? Anyone?

Aug. 10 Northfield City Council primary election: what do we know about the candidates?

Aug. 10 primary ballotsThe primary election for two Northfield City Council seats is one month away: August 10. 


  • Norman Butler
  • Steve Engler
  • Rhonda Pownell (incumbent)

Ward 4

  • Jon Denison (incumbent)
  • Patrick Ganey
  • Dale Gehring

I was hoping there’d be some information online about or by the candidates by now but alas, I can’t find any other than the City’s Absentee Voting info page/PDF and the Ward/Precinct Map:

WTF! Haven’t the candidates heard about the intertubes? Social media anyone? Hello? This is 2010, not 1999.

I guess we’re going to have either make stuff up about them or flush them out into the e-open.

Update 7/30: Here are photos I took at the League of Women Voters candidates forum on 7/28:

League of Women Voters candidates forum on 7/29 League of Women Voters candidates forum on 7/28 Norman Butler, Rhonda Pownell, Steve Engler Dale Gehring, Jon Denison, Patrick Ganey

Candidate blogs aggregated

blogosphere With the political season winding up, we’ve added 3 more local candidate blogs to our lower right sidebar aggregator: Mark Murphy, and Al DeKruif.  Other candidates there include incumbents Kevin Dahle and David Bly.

Let us know if there are others to add.

2 PM update: I mistakenly added Mike Piper’s blog, thinking that he was the Republican endorsed candidate for 25B.  Kelby Woodard is the endorsed candidate but he currently doesn’t have a blog or RSS feed. I’ve removed Mike Piper’s blog.

Who should run for Northfield city council? How about the Rice County board?

Northfield Ward and Precinct Map Rice County Commissioner Districts
Filings for local public offices began last week. Open seats include three on the City Council (1st and 4th Wards, one at-large) and two on the Rice County Board (Districts 2 and 4).  It closes next Tuesday, June 1, at 5 pm. More info on the home page of the League of Women Voters of Northfield. See the Northfield Ward and Precinct Map (PDF) and the Rice County District Commissioners Map (PDF).

As Tracy reported on Friday, Councilor Rhonda Pownell has filed for her at-large seat and Councilor Jon Denison has filed for his Ward 4 seat. Suzie Nakasian has filed for Jim Pokorney’s Ward 1 seat. He’s decided to not run for re-election. Nathan Kuhlman has filed for Ward 4. Since then, Galen Malecha has filed for his District 2 county board seat, according to the Nfld News.

Two years ago, these were the people who filed for the 4 City Council positions:

Continue reading Who should run for Northfield city council? How about the Rice County board?

Podcast: the Triumvirate on election filings, laserfiche, police and fire facilities, and of course, fluff

The LG TriumvirateThe headline says it all.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes:

You can also download the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Mondays at 6:00 PM and Sundays at 10 AM on KYMN 1080 AM.

New Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing talks about her first day


I surprised Mayor Mary Rossing in her store Present Perfect this morning with my video camera. I mostly asked her questions that had to do with Monday night’s City Council meeting, which you can read a bit about here. We touched upon her changes in meeting procedure, her tactics on facilitating meetings and her outlook on information exchange in Northfield and on the financial health of the city’s businesses. Continue reading New Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing talks about her first day

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