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


  1. Jane McWilliams said:

    Griff – the League of Women Voters is holding a candidate forum for the city council seats on Thursday, July 29, 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.

    July 15, 2010
  2. Jane McWilliams said:

    Griff – the only reason I can think of is that the new LWV webmaster is preoccupied with a new baby!

    July 19, 2010
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Sat. Nfld News: Gehring: Candidate ready for change

    Gehring… says the city needs to revisit a number of lingering issues, including its rental ordinance, the proposed construction of new police and fire station facilities and even the possible redevelopment of the Q Block, bordered by Hwy. 3 and  Second and Third streets in downtown Northfield.

    Because Northfield has two colleges, Gehring says the rental ordinance must be more flexible and hold the tenants, rather than the landlords, accountable for their actions.

    Gehring also has his eye on the conduct of the council: The council has become too contentious, he says, and its relationship with city staff too close. He wants to smooth out problems and restore the proper working balance between city staff and elected officials.

    July 19, 2010
  4. Dale Gehring would be a very good candidate for our fourth ward I think now you almost have to run Government like a business: Go with what works and eliminate the things that do not prove to be effective I have met Dale Gehring and I am impressed with his creditentials. I feel that he will serve not only the fourth ward well but all of Northfield. Let us remind ourselves it is a wonderful thing to be a part of the way we choose our leaders. A government by the people for the people : Do not forget to Vote in August 10th primary. And for Governor I would very much like to sse Mark Dayton in the office : Thanks

    July 19, 2010
  5. kiffi summa said:

    I would agree that “accountability” is “necessary”… and I would suggest starting at the source of that statement for some answers to some questions of “accountability” that have never been answered.

    July 26, 2010
  6. kiffi summa said:

    I hope everyone will remember that there is a League of Women Voters forum for City Council Primary Candidates, this Thursday, 7.29, at 7 PM, at City Hall.

    July 26, 2010
  7. Tracy Davis said:

    We moved this week’s Planning Commission meeting to 5:00p so Suzie Nakasian (and others) can attend the forum. I’m looking forward to it!

    Didn’t see anything about it on the League website, but there’s a notice on the City calendar.

    July 26, 2010
  8. Jane McWilliams said:

    I discovered that only one candidate for city council has a campaign web site – namely Rhonda Pownell: It isn’t current, but at least it is there.

    It is surprising, as it is such an obvious way to achieve visibility. I hope those who survive the primary will correct this!

    July 26, 2010
  9. Way to go Kiffi : Thanks to the Summa’s and the work they do to make Northfield Mn : Like I said Way to Go Kiffi (comment 8)

    July 26, 2010
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Rob, there’s a space in the URL of the link to Rhonda’s blog, so the link doesn’t work.

    July 28, 2010
  11. kiffi summa said:

    The NF News today has an article on their website about a candidate’s previous driving record/stops/fines, etc. They quote the fines and a comment from that candidate.

    What I find really strange about this is I have never before seen the NFNews do INVESTIGATIVE journalism about candidate’s backgrounds; although they have written a front page article about Councilor Jon Denison’s eviction problems, and again commented about those problems in their recent article about Mr. Denison.

    However, they state that Mr. Denison’s evictions, and debt problems, have all been resolved.

    I have no idea whether they have all been resolved or not, but the online records of the MN. Judicial Branch, Rice County Court records will show a list of 12… yes, 12… cases between 2000 and 2008, including a large, I believe it was just under 8000 dollars, debt to the NFHospital.

    ****Does the NF News intend to research all records of every candidate in the primary election and report them before the August 10 primary vote date/

    **** Does the NF News intend to give the full past record of Mr. Denison’s Court cases, including the judgements?

    **** But above all else, WHY does the NF News continue to ‘under-report’ on Mr. Denison, and is that lack of well rounded reporting acceptable?

    July 29, 2010
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News: Council candidate has three drunk driving convictions

    Dale Gehring, a candidate for the Fourth Ward seat, confirmed the convictions on Wednesday, saying that he regretted his actions and has since dealt with the consequences of his behavior, both legally and personally. Gehring’s first conviction for impaired driving came in 1991, when he was pulled over after attending a volleyball league event in college, he said. Gehring pleaded guilty to that offense, paid a $500 fine and was sentenced to one year of probation, according to Minnesota court records.

    That conviction was followed by a second in 1996. In that case, Gehring’s blood alcohol level registered higher than a .10 concentration, according to Minnesota court records. The third — and most severe — conviction was in 2005, when Gehring pleaded guilty to a third-degree impaired driving charge, paid $840 in fines and was sentenced to two years probation. His blood alcohol level, according to the court records, was roughly .14. The legal limit in Minnesota was reduced from .10 to .08 in June 2005.

    July 29, 2010
  13. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: I just came in from doing some yard work and saw that the NFNews has removed their article about Mr. Gehring from their website.
    I had written them about the bias shown between the very explicit article about Mr. Gehring and their very incomplete article previously (JULY 24-5) about Mr. Denison’s accountability. I asked the same sort of questions that I did here in comment #16, above.
    I received a very , IMO, incomplete answer from Jaci Smith at the News, who replied that the News had written extensively… no, I think she said exhaustively, about Mr. Denison’s eviction problems, and that they had printed an update/correction in yesterday’s paper.

    I still, feel their extreme bias shows: compare the two articles, and then see if the small correction to their Denison article, on the editorial page, evens out the effect of the two pieces of writing.
    Since they chose to detail all the fines Mr. Gehring has paid to settle his ‘debt’, I think they need to do the research to detail all Mr. Denison’s fines/judgements, and then also detail what he has paid.

    That would be the only un-biased attempt to solve the ( again IMO) irreparable harm they have done to one candidate, while seeming to ignore the 12 court cases in 8 years, of another candidate.

    July 29, 2010
  14. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Kiffi- what you say interested me enough to do a search. I typed in ‘Denison’ in the search box @ NN. Anyone can do the same and find the history pretty well detailed if they just click through the articles printed in the past. I think perhaps the current more indepth on Gehring was due to there being no previous coverage of his drunk driving convictions. At least none I could find @ NN.

    July 29, 2010
  15. kiffi summa said:

    The article on the 4th ward challenger is back on their home page at 6:10…. they don’t seem to know if they feel comfortable with it or not! it started there (homepage) this morning, went away mid-day and then came back late afternoon…
    Que Pasa?

    July 29, 2010
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News: Council candidates weigh in at forum

    During the first half of the forum, which focused on the Fourth Ward candidates, Gehring expressed his support for an aggressive plan laid out by Mayor Mary Rossing to hire a new administrator by the beginning of January. His two opponents countered, suggesting the city take its time searching while a well-qualified interim administrator takes the helm.

    When asked about the $2 million in cuts facing the city, current Councilor Denison pushed for selling city assets and decertifying a Tax Increment Financing district to ease the burden on taxpayers.

    Further trimming from the budget could be accomplished through shared services with other municipalities and the “elimination of waste,” Gehring said, while Ganey said the city may need to explore further personnel cuts.

    At-large candidates Butler and Engler took turns criticizing council decisions and the influence of city staff during the more contentious second half of the forum, while incumbent Pownell defended the working relationships on the council and the trust it placed in senior city staff.

    July 31, 2010
  17. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve added photos I took at the League of Women Voters candidates forum on 7/29 to the blog post above.

    July 31, 2010

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