Who should run for mayor and city council? How about school board and county board?

Northfield City Council
On our podcast earlier this week, we began spreading rumors about candidates for Northfield City Council this fall… people who either might be considering filing or who are being lobbied to run for council or mayor by others. Since then, I’ve heard a few more names.

  • Betsey Buckheit
  • Dana Graham
  • Dave Hvistendahl
  • Dave Maroney
  • Dixon Bond
  • Jane McWilliams
  • Jessica Peterson
  • Jim Pokorney
  • Ken Malecha
  • Kris Vohs
  • Lee Lansing
  • Noah Cashman
  • Ray Cox
  • Scott Davis

Expiring terms:

  • Lee Lansing — Mayor
  • Kris Vohs — At-Large
  • Scott Davis — Second Ward
  • Arnie Nelson — Third Ward

Who else would you like to see run for council/mayor?  Attach a comment. In a week or so, I’ll create a straw poll.

According to this positions open/candidates needed page on the LWV site:


OPEN SEATS: 2nd Ward, 3rd Ward, one At Large
FILING PERIOD: July 1-15, 2008
(last date to withdraw, July 17)
WHERE TO FILE: Northfield City Hall
801 Washington Street
(If more than 2 file for one seat)


FILING PERIOD: July 1-15, 2008
(last date to withdraw, July 17)
WHERE TO FILE: Northfield City Hall
801 Washington Street
(If more than 2 file)


  1. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I see Betsy Buckheit at the top of the list and I hope she will run. There are other good names on the list, plus a couple I’d rather not see on the ballot.

    Remember, Commissioners Gillen (Dist 1), Plaisance (Dist 3) and Brown (Dist 5) come up for renewal on the Rice County Board in November, as well. The fact that meetings are scheduled during the work day continues to limit the number of qualified candidates.

    April 13, 2008
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Stephanie… we’ll do other blog posts on the races for county commissioner and school board.

    April 15, 2008
  3. The word on the street is that it would be best for Northfield, our community and its government if all seven seats on the Council were able to be contested in November. Three of the seven terms would be for two years only (I suppose), but those three incumbents would surely receive a needed, and deserved, vote of confidence from our citizens if they risked all and won again.

    April 16, 2008
  4. Felicity Enders said:

    With only three seats up for reelection this year, how would you suggest going about putting the other for four councilpersons’ positions up for a vote?

    April 16, 2008
  5. kiffi summa said:

    Felicity: Actually, there are four seats up for re-election, because the Mayor is also. And each is a single council vote. That means a majority.
    It has been suggested, however, that not all the “problem” lies with the council.
    Therefore , the thrust for change should be for independent thinkers who are not afraid to assume the role and responsibility of policy makers.
    There has been talk, on the street, of recalling the three that are not up for election in this cycle; that would be a nearly impossible task, and not possible in the time before the July filing, although some have said there must be a wiped-clean slate.

    April 16, 2008
  6. Jon Denison said:

    There are 4 seats up for election/re-election, 3 council seats and the mayor:

    Mayor: Lee Lansing
    At-Large: Kris Vohs
    2nd Ward: Scott Davis (Southeastern fourth of town roughly)
    3rd Ward: Arnie Nelson (Northwestern fourth of town including the St. Olaf campus roughly)

    Maybe one of the mighty triumverate could post a ward/precinct map under this blog subject.

    Jon Denison
    Councilperson, 4th Ward (Southwestern/central part of town, the oddest shaped ward of them all primarily because two industrial/business parks are in it causing a smaller population base in a wider geographical area)

    April 16, 2008
  7. Jon Denison said:

    After posting and then re-reading my previous comment, I realized i maybe should’ve used the word “equal” instead of “smaller” population in my ward. All of the wards must have close (within 10% of each other) population numbers.

    Jon Denison

    April 16, 2008
  8. kiffi summa said:

    The fourth ward is an illegally constructed, i.e.gerrymandered ward.

    The three requirements are approximate numbers, contiguity, and “communities of interest”.

    The fourth ward only meets one of the three requirements: approximate numbers. Contiguity is not even approximated, and communities of interest is somewhat difficult to prove, and may be an outdated concept. When the ward/precinct map was changed, the fourth ward was configured the way it was to allow two seated council members to retain their seats without having to run again.

    The League of Women Voters had to decide whether to challenge the Northfield or Rice County redistricting map in court. They chose to challenge Rice County, and won, creating some case law in the process.

    Unfortunately, (some might think fortunately) our (LWV) coffers have not yet fully recovered, but there may another map challenge in the future.

    April 16, 2008
  9. Well said, John. Much appreciate your post. Just a suggestion…but if you were to ‘risk all’, I am sure the other two (Noah Cashman & Jim Pokorney) may be tempted to support your initiative. Then we would have a break from the past and optimism about the future.

    April 16, 2008
  10. Felicity Enders said:

    Kiffi – that comment was actually from Patrick. We’re now working on a system to avoid mistakes like that. But I do agree with the comment made in my name. There will be enough confusion in the next election, without voting for six councilor seats. Also, as has been pointed out, there is the possibility that all four seats will turn over, changing the majority vote completely and thus in my mind nullifying the issue.

    On another note, I would really like to encourage everyone seriously considering running for mayor to announce their candidacy as soon as possible. While I applaud David Hv, I know he won’t be the only one brave enough to face this challenge, and as citizens we will need considerable time to compare the potential candidates.

    April 16, 2008
  11. kiffi summa said:

    Norm: Are you actually suggesting that the three councilors who are NOT up for election, vacate their seats and then re-run… to accomplish the “clean slate idea” with what would essentially be a vote of confidence?

    I don’t see anything that dramatic happening, do you?

    Didn’t you mention seppuku somewhere? or am I just remembering your story about the Brit who in HenryVIII’s time was hung, taken down alive, and as he saw the knife raised to “draw and quarter” him said, “Sweet Jesus, yet more trouble?”

    April 16, 2008
  12. Felicity Enders said:

    In addition to each mayoral candidate’s top five prioritized issues, I’d like to hear each candidate’s views, including reasoning, on the following:

    • Opportunities/strategies to support and build upon downtown businesses
    • The relative importance of different avenues for growth/action, such as: the liquor store, the skate park, a kayak/canoe park at the site of the current waterfall, an industrial business park
    • Opportunities to increase the city’s tax base
    • City staff
    April 16, 2008
  13. John S. Thomas said:

    This is GREAT!

    For once, it is nice to have to deal with an early election season.

    It is going to be a great season of debate this summer.

    April 17, 2008
  14. Kiffi. Yes; a clean slate, a vote of confidence is what is needed after this last annus horribilus (sp?).

    April 17, 2008
  15. kiffi summa said:

    Norm : I agree that a clean slate would be good for all; except for those whose terms have two years to go ,and probably feel they aren’t the problem. I would think that from hearing them speak , the three that AREN’T up for election definitely do NOT think they are the problem.
    What do you think about this observation, Norm … the three who are not up for election are all very sympathetic with the city administrator … so if one of the newly elected (next Nov.) is also, then we are still in a POSSIBLE dynamic of power struggle within city hall. And that observation presumes that power issues are some of the problem, not just the personality/style or actions of the current mayor.

    What say you, Norm?

    April 17, 2008
  16. I tend put myself in their shoes, Kiffi, and consider that a vote of renewed confidence in myself and my judgments as a councilor would be just the tonic for the next two years of council work. Indeed, it would place something akin to a leadership role on the reconfirmed’s shoulders. And I think all it would take for all three to seek affirmation is just one of them to do so (Jon, Jim or Noah). I not not the mechanism but I am sure there is one.

    April 17, 2008
  17. Felicity Enders said:

    Norm, I’m not at all sure a mechanism exists to do what you suggest.  The charter (or perhaps code, can’t recall which) clearly specifies terms for each seat.  If all six councilor spots were put to vote this time, how would they then cycle in the future? 

    Would you punish the 3 who would put themselves up for re-election early (under your schema) by then putting them back thro re-election two years later? 

    Conversely, would you give them four year terms, but give the new folks 2 year terms?  

    April 17, 2008
  18. kiffi summa said:

    Well, you are a super confident Brit entrepreneur so you are not hesitant about putting yourself on the line. That characteristic of yours has been proven.

    I just can’t imagine the three whose terms ARE NOT up, putting themselves “on the line”, for the sake of a clean slate. As I said, I doubt they think they’re part of the “clean slate problem”.

    BUT, assuming they would do such a thing, (just for the sake of speculation) I also can’t think how exactly it would it would be done. Considering the dates and rules of vacated seats, it would get pretty dicey with the primary filing the 1st week of July…

    Anybody got any ideas? Help Norm and I out with this one…

    April 17, 2008
  19. John S. Thomas said:

    I have a question I hope someone can answer…

    How are commissions, such as planning and zoning, handled this election year. Are they elected or nominated?

    Would this upcoming election result in a change to the planning and zoning commission?

    How about the building inspector? That is a hired city staff position correct?

    If anyone can enlighten me with an answer, I would appreciate it, so that I can better understand what is/will occur.

    April 17, 2008
  20. Jon Denison said:


    I would love to try to explain your questions to the best of my understanding, but I think everyone can tell what responses I get even when all I’m trying to do is explain or clarify what I might consider a straight forward question.

    Please feel free to call me at 507-412-1259 or email me at jon.denison@ci.northfield.mn.us anytime.

    This goes for anyone!!!

    April 17, 2008
  21. John S. Thomas said:


    The link is helpful, but does not help me determine how many seats on the PZC are coming up for change?

    As a member of the PZC, you know there are 7 members. How many members will be selected by the new mayor, and confirmed by the council after the next election?

    Term expiration dates are not listed on the City website. Can you help?

    April 17, 2008
  22. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi wrote: “When the ward/precinct map was changed, the fourth ward was configured the way it was to allow two seated council members to retain their seats without having to run again.”

    Kiffi, could you let us know what year this was and who those two councilors were?  I think some folks might infer that this involved current council members.

    FYI, for others, info on the lawsuit Kiffi’s referring to: Hilary Ziols v. Rice County Board of Commissioners.

    April 18, 2008
  23. kiffi summa said:

    John: You should talk to the Chair of the Planning Commission to find out how many/if any, seats will be coming up for replacement. If you are interested you can put an application in any time during the year. he council discussed a slightly earlier time schedule for review of those applications, so I’d do it by the first of November.

    Yes, the Building Inspector, who works under/with the Building Official, is a hired city employee.

    Hope you left a comment on the city’s website if you thought it was lacking in some area of information, because i think they are interested in improving its usability.

    Griff: I can’t remember the exact year, you can determine that from the lawsuit. I t was either the year the lawsuit originated ,or the previous year. It was two city administrators ago, and the two council members whose seats were retained, without new election, are no longer councilors, for reasons that have nothing to do with this discussion.

    Since there is also discussion on this site about what and how people write, and how that writing is interpreted, I went back to look at what I’d said about the map change, and the council seats, and I thought what I said was just a pure statement of what happened, no inference.

    Goes to being careful how you phrase things…

    April 18, 2008
  24. John S. Thomas said:

    Just to be perfectly clear, I have no intention to run for public office, or the PZC.

    I am more curious about the change of command of that particular commission, and will go and find the information.

    Thanks Kiffi.

    April 18, 2008
  25. Shannon Arbuckle said:

    Erica Zweifel plans to run in Ward 3!

    April 18, 2008
  26. Jon D. I assure you that we would all benefit from the clarification that you are offering on a one-to-one basis to John T and others. Its rare and precious when a councilor gives us the benefit of their particular knowledge, understandings and insights, for you are privvy to much that we are not. So, by all means please share these and ignore the brickbats.

    April 18, 2008
  27. Tracy Davis said:

    John T., when I was on the EDA, the terms of each member were posted on the website. I’d suggest calling Kathy Frederickson at City Hall and requesting that information be posted for all the boards and commissions.

    For the Planning Commission, here’s the current status, terms expiring Dec. 31 of the year indicated:

    Ross Currier (2009)
    James Herreid (2009)
    Joe Hargis (2009)
    Greg Colby (2010)
    Ronald Griffith (2010)
    Tracy Davis (2008)
    Alice Thomas (2008)

    There! Straight answer to a straightforward question. (It took five minutes internet time, three minutes on the phone, and five minutes drumming my fingers while waiting for the info to come in via email, and another four minutes to post it here….. just to follow up my comment made in the delurking thread about why questions sometimes go unanswered)

    April 18, 2008
  28. John S. Thomas said:

    Tracy… Thank you so much. That helps.

    April 18, 2008
  29. kiffi summa said:

    Norm: Looks like your “clean slate” proposal has garnered little interest, and that only being on the mechanics of how a clean slate option would work, not the reason for/or substance of, your proposal .

    Too bad. I thought it was an interesting thought, given a broad overview of the personality dynamics, and how they might or might not change with the fall election.

    Maybe you should use it for a discussion topic at “Politics and a Pint”, Norm…
    Then you might get some public opinion.

    April 22, 2008
  30. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve spoken to a couple people who are trying to convince Margit Johnson to run for Mayor.

    April 22, 2008
  31. Griff Wigley said:

    Another person being discussed, I just found out: former Mayor and current school board member, Paul Hager.

    April 22, 2008
  32. Alright!  Alright!  Stop calling me!  Stop the constant barrage of pleading e-mails and pigeon-delivered telegrams.  Stop.

     I’ll do it.  I’ll run for mayor.  O.K.?   Happy now?!

    Here’s my proposed motto: “Brendon Etter: Mayor-y Me”

    or — “Brendon Etter: He’s Less Stupider Than You Might Think”

    or — “Brendon Etter: Ribbed, For Your Civic Pleasure”

    or — “Brendon Etter: He Know Things About You And Your Family That Your Vote Might Help Keep Under Wraps”

    or — “Brendon Etter: Probably Fighting Terrorism”

    I just need a campaign manager… Tracy? 

    April 22, 2008
  33. Britt Ackerman said:

    Brendon: I love your possible campaign slogans. If you run, I would be happy to represent your legal interests. At my standard billable rate, of course.

    April 22, 2008
  34. Britt, I hope you would volunteer your time.  Enthusiastically.  This is about civic involvement!  Fighting for a cause much greater than yourself:  Myself.

    April 22, 2008
  35. john george said:

    Hey, Brendon. If Jesse Ventura could be governor (he was actually pretty good. He knew how to wrestle with the issues.) of Minnesota, then I think you have some hope. But, considering the roastings that have gone on in the Northfield political theater this last year, I think running “from” the mayor position would be a better moniker. What would your first and second “acts” entail?

    April 22, 2008
  36. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    All kidding aside, Margit Johnson and Paul Hager are both strong names I could support.

    April 22, 2008
  37. That’s just fine, Stephanie, I didn’t want your support anyway… I mean why fight for mature, reasonable, thoughtful voters? They’re so much harder to fool.

    John G… I think I would be able to handle the political roastings. I have a very broad, savory political baste.

    April 22, 2008
  38. victor summa said:

    Back in # 18 Felicity asked: How, Norman would you construct a clean slate since three Councilor seats are not up for election — each of those having 2 plus years remaining in their terms.

    Very easily accomplished … if the councilors in question were inclined to face the public mid term.

    Felicity wrote

    Norm, I’m not at all sure a mechanism exists to do what you suggest. The charter (or perhaps code, can’t recall which) clearly specifies terms for each seat. If all six councilor spots were put to vote this time, how would they then cycle in the future?

    Here’s how. Each of the three : Denison, Pokorney and Cashman submit resignations today …. effective the day of the election in November ’08 … Nov. 4?

    Having made that move, their respective seats are then up for election for the remaining part of their original 4 year term — from November ’08 through December 31 ’10.

    Having announced their resignations, the full council then sets the rules (By Charter, their prerogative) for the seating of the to-be newly elected Councilors to the three vacated seats. The other four seats of regularly scheduled elections, hold their office through Dec. 31.

    Those seeking office file for the seat of their choice. This is likely to include all those who submitted resignations.

    So, the three seats effected by the resignations are included in those voted for on Nov. 4 and the winners of those take office immediately upon the canvassing of the vote by the remaining four outgoing officials.

    Assuming some or all of those who resigned sought re-election, they might win … and be immediately re-seated, losing no time on the job.

    Those who do not vie for or win election, vacate per their earlier resignation.

    So the question of the cycle of terms, is not interrupted. Wards Four, and Two and one At Large seat run again in two plus years, Nov 2010.

    RESULT: The scalawags faced the voters and took their chances.

    April 22, 2008
  39. john george said:

    Brendon- Love it! And from a seasoned professional, too! Some issues are worth brushing aside.

    Stephanie- Spoil sport! I suppose your right, though. We should probably be serious about this, but it is such a drag!

    April 22, 2008
  40. Patrick Enders said:

    Here’s how. Each of the three : Denison, Pokorney and Cashman submit resignations today …. effective the day of the election in November ‘08 … Nov. 4?

    Very clever, but I don’t think calling our elected Councilpersons “scalawags” is going to help convince them to follow your suggestion. And I see no other reasons why they should.

    They’ll be up for reelection when their terms end.

    April 22, 2008
  41. kiffi summa said:

    Opinion on Norm’s “clean slate” idea is definitely divided, Patrick.
    There are many people of all different sorts, who have said that the dynamics will not, or may not, change unless all of the current councilors are up for election.
    This has not been an isolated thought.
    Norman Butler can fill you in on more detail of his ideas on the matter.
    The three who are NOT up for election could choose to show their good intentions for a more productive, less contentious future by voluntarily putting themselves up for re-election thus garnering a renewed mandate for their actions.

    April 22, 2008
  42. Patrick Enders said:

    They could. They have little incentive to do so.

    April 23, 2008
  43. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: I agree “they have little incentive to do so” … but think how much more “comfortable” it would be for them if they had a new approval, and were not always having the old negative dynamics thrown up to them.
    And maybe that would not happen if all went well with the mix of newly elected.

    April 23, 2008
  44. BruceWMorlan said:

    The clean slate requires two extraordinary things. First, a group of four who come to the table as a ready-made “clique”, or they will end up forging (or being cajoled) into joining with the “Residual Three (TM)”. Second, a group of four strong minded and knowledgeable people, NOT knowledgeable about the issues, but knowledgeable about the workings of this city’s staff.

    First, as a ready made clique they might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls of small group coalition dynamics. Anyone can run for office, even a populist demagogue. But it takes a politician to change things (using politician in the non-derogatory sense).

    Second, one of the primary shortfalls of “term limits” as a strategy for keeping the elected officials from becoming entrenched insiders is that the full-time staffs they rely on become the center of power because of their long-term memories of where the skeletons are. Heck, the new guys sometimes can’t even find the closets! And we’ve seen the sorry state of the relationship between staff and council in Northfield.

    April 23, 2008
  45. Patrick Enders said:

    They wouldn’t be any more comfortable at all. As far as I can tell, there seems to be a very small, but vocal, minority of persons who offer the majority of criticisms leveled at the three Councilpersons you would like to have resign from their offices.

    I see no reason to think that, even if the Councilpersons in question resigned and were soundly reelected to their posts, that that vocal minority would cease their criticisms.

    Kiffi, I don’t think I have anything else left to offer on this topic. Anyway, as you said in post #9: “I don’t see anything that dramatic happening, do you?”

    April 23, 2008
  46. Oh no, Patrick, not you too – with this ‘small but vocal minority’ nonsense. Why not just bow out of this particular discussion without firing that last futile, baseless, broadside aimed at no-one in particular, no stated issue, no iteratable (?) comment, if fact nowt of substance at all. C’mon Partrick!

    April 23, 2008
  47. Patrick Enders said:

    I did say, as far as I can tell. I can think of about 6 or 7 names of persons who have expressed a desire to “throw the bums out” regarding the Councilpersons who are not up for reelection.

    Compared to some controversies around here, that’s a pretty small minority.

    If there are more persons who feel that way, perhaps they should step forward and be counted.

    April 23, 2008
  48. Patrick, you’re doing it again and y’er following the lead of Rudolph the Red’s groupies..the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    No-one has said throw the bums out. I, and others have said that it would be good for the community and the group of three if all seven were to throw their hats in the ring. Civilized, critical, constructive, debatable. And raised as a point for discussion which can be addressed in interesting and unique ways…and eventually let go of – or not.

    You characterize it, as others have done on so many issues, as a witch-hunt and as such send us all to our corners to either come out fighting, or fire a broadside and disappear into the crowd, or just plain sulk. It bothers me immensely that this particular tactic is oft deployed as a stopping tactic to prevent further important and relevant and articulate discussion on issues that some of us will not simply allow to disappear or be swept under the carpet for the sake of avoiding further unpleasantness or embarrassing some erstwhile pillar of the establishment.

    You imply that the 6 or 7 speak only for themselves and that the vast unspeaking and unheard majority are somehow or other in a different camp entirely and in fact are with you, or him, or her, or Rudolph, or the NNews, or the attorney, or the the government employee who has no axe to grind, or the expert who receives a bag of money for his unbiased, non-partisan pronouncements or some other ‘not-the six-or seven’ who see things clearly, rationally and dispassionately.

    Who the are these ‘not 6 or 7’ and what the hell do they actually think on the issues. The issues, Patrick, not the U or not-U, the trouble-seekers and -makers…. the issues!.

    April 23, 2008
  49. Patrick Enders said:

    Sorry Norman, you’re on your own for a few days. I’m heading out of town.

    April 23, 2008
  50. Anne Bretts said:

    C’mon, Norm. Play by your own rules. If you want the councilors to stand for a vote before their terms are up and you have the numbers behind you, organize recall elections for all of them. That’s what the mayor’s supporters told the many, many people outraged by his behavior over the last year. If you can’t prove you have the numbers, you speak for yourself — and the councilors answer to the very real people who actually elected them, not an uncounted, anonymous, amorphous group of critics who may or may not exist.
    Happily, the charter gives you the perfect way to bring the hordes of critics to the ballot box — and you’ll have such wonderful weather on your side as you circulate the petitions.

    April 23, 2008
  51. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: You mistake my motives: I do not want anyone to resign their office.
    I do want the power block voting , which does not well serve the citizenry of this community , to cease. I want to hear councilors express what they think is best for the community, and I hear far too much punitiveness, openly expressed and acted upon. I see disrespect for the citizen Boards and Commissions, which often more honestly express the will of the community, and that is a shame.
    But you’re right in making me remember I said, “I don’t see anything that dramatic happening’ …

    April 23, 2008
  52. Anne Bretts said:

    So if the councilors split there’s unhealthy contention and conflict and if they agree there’s unhealthy bloc voting? Hmmmm…

    April 23, 2008
  53. kiffi summa said:

    After watching the first half of the city council work session last night, the hastily and “imperiously ” called meeting with the Charter Commission, I am more than ever convinced that Norm’s idea of needing a “clean slate” is a valid one.

    What I call the “dynamics” are just not good. There’s no clearer way to say it.

    Two lawyers were brought down from St. Paul to discuss the “roles and responsibilities” (ubiquitous term) of the Council and the Charter Commission. Well, I don’t believe for a moment that each of these groups doesn’t know, as well as any ever do, what their “roles and responsibilities” are. This terminology has become a euphemism for someone thinking someone is out of line.

    After 45 minutes or so of beating around the bush, the real situation was brought to the table by Ms. Buckheit, newly appointed to the Chart/comm.
    I can’t quote her exactly, but the essence of what she asked was: why are we having this quasi-educational meeting when the real questions/struggles/ conflicts(?) that brought us together tonight are not being addressed?

    Well, it was theatre, in the true sense of the word. The two attorneys sat back, and watched , barely containing wry smiles, as the conversation began to take on a more realistic direction. And a lot of barely concealed animosity came out, and not just on the specific subject at hand.

    At one point, C. Vohs, turned to the NFNews reporter and said that people should not believe everything they read in the paper, or should recognize that it might not be the whole story, and that the newspaper had been a negative influence in the town’s process. Harsh words; how was it specifically related to the issue at hand?

    One of the matters to be settled between the two groups is the issue of the use of the city attorney’s services. That very real problem , one that needs definition, was barely touched. But why is it such a problem now, when this has not been in the past? “Advocacy”, dollars billed, what’s the real quandry?

    Accusations about the Charter commissions intentions, based on the reading of their minutes were made by a councilperson, and defended by the commission’s chair. Although council members constantly reiterate that the Chart/comm is an independent body, they seem to want to control even the parameters of the discussion that occurs at that commission.

    If the council wants to have the citizens believe that they are always acting in the best interests of the community, they need to have the same level of expectation of trust for the individuals , who have been picked by the district chief judge, to manage the upkeep of the city’s charter.

    April 29, 2008
  54. Jane McWilliams said:

    Jan Mitchell, League of Women Voters School Board Observer, reported in her blog on the League’s site, that at the Monday evening meeting Paul Hager announced that he wasn’t going to reup for school board because he is running for city council.

    April 29, 2008
  55. BruceWMorlan said:

    Interestinly, at Politics and a Pint we labeled the issue of the decision making process as the #1 problem facing the city. Kiff, you said

    I don’t believe for a moment that each of these groups doesn’t know, as well as any ever do, what their “roles and responsibilities” are. This terminology has become a euphemism for someone thinking someone is out of line.

    I think that you are overly generous here, I am willing to bet that in a closed book test the council would give several different answers to the question:

    What is the process for reaching a decision? List the roles and responsibilities of the various participants.

    Absent a shared understanding it would be natural for a group of groups (the City Council, the City Staff, and the various commissions) to work and play together poorly at best. It bears repeating, the number one question we thought needed answering?

    What are the City’s decision processes? Do processes even exist or is it a hodge-podge of ad hockeries?
    Ref: Politics and a Pint discussion of 27 Apr 2008

    We will be looking for answers as we move into the final stretches of the election.

    April 30, 2008
  56. David Henson said:

    I wonder if the Charter Commission could put forward a change to a strong mayor system ? I think a strong mayor could act to fix obvious problems like the dangerous traffic jam at Division and Jefferson by quickly redirecting resources. I also think a strong mayor would go along way to enhance political decision making. The internet and blogs like locally grown are solid tools to check the worst impulses of a strong mayor system. Anything has to be better than what we have going now.

    April 30, 2008
  57. Griff Wigley said:

    Um, it would help a lot if y’all would carry on the annexation discussion over in the annexation thread instead of here in the mayor/council election thread.

    Stephanie, David L, Randy… can you copy/paste your comments over there?> Then I’ll delete them here.

    May 1, 2008
  58. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Griff, maybe you can move the whole section? Otherwise they will be out of order as we cut and paste each one.

    May 1, 2008
  59. Griff Wigley said:

    Back to the original topic!

    I saw Jessica Peterson tonight at her show at Grezzo Gallery and she said, after weighing all the pros and cons with her fiancee, she’s decided to NOT run for mayor.

    May 1, 2008
  60. Martha Cashman said:

    I think Mary Rossing would make an excellent Mayor.

    May 2, 2008
  61. Mary Rossing said:

    Thanks Martha. That is very sweet.

    May 2, 2008
  62. Dan Freeman said:

    Dixon Bond for Mayor, God, Omnipotent and Benevolent Dictator Emertitus Rex. Brendon can be MZ Congestiality! There! Its Settled. Thank you very much.

    May 2, 2008
  63. Martha Cashman said:

    Not sweet, Mary, just wishful and practical. You are a huge promoter of Northfield, you are fair, you have a gift for defusing tense situations. You are the RX for Northfield’s recovery! Vote Mary Rossing!

    May 2, 2008
  64. Hear, hear! I second Martha’s call for Mary to run for mayor. Her sense of humor, business acumen, and obvious commitment to the community would make her a great candidate.

    Not to take anything away from the two already-announced candidates (David Hv and Paul Hager), but we need good choices locally when we go to the polling places in November–the more, and the more diverse their views and life experiences, the better.

    May 6, 2008
  65. please find a qualified mayor anyone but jon denison we can do much better than what we have now. we need a leader to heal our rifts and differences maybe someone like victor summa eh would be ideal he understands process

    May 6, 2008
  66. Julie Bixby said:

    I had no idea, until last night, that Mary Rossing was considering running for mayor! I think it is a brilliant idea! I do, however, want to see what she is going to do with the chamber.
    Mary can you fix the chamber first? Tomorrow fix the city and then the world! If anyone can do it YOU can! Of course, you know, you may have to give up your Sundays making yogurt and granola!

    May 7, 2008
  67. kiffi summa said:

    Regardless of who runs, and who is elected, the most important thing will be to change the dynamics at City Hall.

    In my opinion, the entire fault does not lie with the elected officials. Much of it, not all … unless you want to say that they must take charge of the Senior Staff, which of course they should, but have shown virtually NO inclination to do. The bare, red-faced, aggressive body english challenge to the Mayor at Monday’s meeting was completely unacceptable. An employee is not to be denigrated for being an employee, rather than elected; but the authority is simply not the same. An employee should bring their professional skills, if they have them, to bear on a difficult situation, rather than initiating a conflict. More management skill, less raw aggression expressed as concern for other staff, especially those who are able to take care of themselves.

    I am not the only person who thinks this was a serious violation; several other people of what I would consider to be of widely divergent general views, have expressed the same concern in the last two days.

    This is a situation which demands high leadership skills; maybe the only way to manage it is by rigid adherence to procedural rules.

    May 7, 2008
  68. Britt Ackerman said:

    I agree with Kiffi that whomever takes the helm must have a firm grasp on parliamentary procedure, and must enforce Robert’s Rules of Order. We’ve got to follow the rules in order to move forward and make decisions, rather than floundering around in circular debate.

    BTW, I was looking for a good link to the latest revised version of Robert’s rules, and didn’t find it (darn copyright protection) but found this cute basic quiz. I scored 80%. I would hope that anyone who wants to be a contender could score a perfect 100%!


    May 8, 2008
  69. Tracy Davis said:

    Crap, Britt, I only got 80% too. (But that’s okay, because I don’t want to run either.)

    May 8, 2008
  70. I only got 50%, but that’s because I only knew one for sure, the one about the quorum, and I guessed the rest. However, if you ask me tomorrow, I bet I’d get 100% and know them for the next meeting.

    However, I don’t think I’d get elected either way, not around here. ; )

    May 8, 2008
  71. Jon Denison said:

    Don’t count yourself out until you’ve tried!

    May 8, 2008
  72. Who should run for mayor? From the list I see above in the intro, I would like to give a nod to Dixon Bond, Victor Summa, and Ray Cox and Even Lee Lansing, and I will tell you why. Now I have not see anyone else in person
    on this list, but I have heard Betsy and I will say she is good at listing.

    In the case of the four gentlemen, each one has presented himself to me
    willingly, generously and with a true love of serving people, imho.
    They are passionate but clear headed men, for the most part.
    Good luck to whomever decides to run.

    May 12, 2008
  73. victor summa said:

    Oh my!

    Well, Bright’s endorsement will likely stop this thread. Everyone … up, off the floor!

    Interesting … hmmm?

    What I see in that list, regardless of who’d become mayor is a whole new style on the council; if Dixon, Ray, Lee and i were elected. And, talk about televised drama. Guaranteed high ratings … not to mention full houses every meeting.

    Let’s see … Ray’s Third Ward. Dixon, Second or Mayor … and Lee, second or Mayor … and I’m at large!

    Well that works. Most of those names are electable.

    That was easy. So, why can’t Clinton and Obama work it out? Maybe Bright should give them a call.

    May 12, 2008
  74. Here, billy, billy, billy, here barry, barry, barry.
    I’m sorry I couldn’t resist. Living across the street
    from Griff has caught up with me. 🙂

    May 12, 2008
  75. Peter Millin said:

    Living here for a short time it has become very apparent to me that the powers in charge of Northfield are dysfunctional at best.
    The citizens of Northfield are the ones to suffer. Common sense, fiscal responsibility and accountability have all been muddled by political infighting.
    I don’t know the details on how we got here, but as an outsider this is painful to watch. It seems that even the most simple things have fallen victim to bickering and ill will.

    Whoever we decide on to put in next has to be a complete departure from the usual suspects. Remember they got us here in the first place.

    I will be looking for a professional businesslike approach to managing city affairs. We as citizen need to demand from our leaders that they have our best interests in mind and more importantly will stand up and be accountable for their actions. I’d rather have an honest member that admits his/her mistakes then a sneaky pretender that hides his/her agenda.

    May 13, 2008
  76. Rob Hardy said:

    I’m running for a seat on the school board. My previous (non-elected) public service includes two terms on the Northfield Public Library Board (two years as secretary) and three years on the school district’s District Educational Program Advisory Committee (DEPAC), serving on the assessment subcommittee. I’ve also been a substitute teacher in Northfield (K-8) and at Minneapolis South High School. I’d be happy to talk about my candidacy after I return from three weeks of vacation, followed by hernia surgery at the end of July!

    June 25, 2008
  77. Elizabeth Buckheit said:

    Hello all. My mom thought it would be funny if I announced her candidacy for Scott Davis’ second ward city council seat, since I’ve been bugging her to run. a Northfield News article should appear on Saturday.

    June 26, 2008
  78. Griff Wigley said:

    Rob Hardy for school board. Yay! Betsey Buckheit for 2nd Ward Councilor. Yay!

    Thanks for the alert, Elizabeth.

    June 26, 2008
  79. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Thanks Griff (and Elizabeth)! Yes, it’s true – and I don’t know if “funny” would be the word I’d have used for Elizabeth announcing the news to LoGroNo. More like: it’s nice to have the youthful enthusiasm and support from a 13 year old who is not only my daughter, but is also someone interested in Northfield issues (I know she can at least name all the current Council members and knows a lot more about annexation than she probably ever wanted to after recent debates).

    Good to hear about your plans, too, Rob!

    June 26, 2008
  80. Ross Currier said:

    Oh Betsey, and you didn’t even give me a hint when we celebrating Dennis and Katherine’s wedding anniversary the other night…

    …all that talk about local politics and you sat there uncharacteristically silent…

    …although I did seem to sense a Mona Lisa smile.

    I guess I’ll have to go to Elizabeth to get all the breaking news.

    June 26, 2008
  81. Griff Wigley said:

    Elizabeth, I hope your mom hires you as her campaign chair. In the meantime, I’ve removed the “Betsey’s daughter” from your Locally Grown name. You can be your own person here! Next task: get yourself and your mom Gravatars. She’ll never win as a lettuce-head. 😉

    June 26, 2008
  82. Griff Wigley said:

    I saw Wendy Smith last night. She confirmed that she’s not running again for School Board. And a city hall insider who wishes to remain anonymous told me yesterday that Lee Lansing has filed to run for mayor. Evidently there’s a clause that allows for people to file prior to the opening of filing if they will be out of town during the filing period.

    June 28, 2008
  83. Griff Wigley said:

    The Nfld News has a story today titled: Local political scene tough but worthwhile?

    The too-small-to-read-on-the-web graphic of who’s running and who’s not for council/mayor/school board says that Katy Hargis is going to run for school board again.

    In the body of the article:

    Victor Summa, a former member of the City Planning Commission, the Charter Commission and the Northfield Economic Development Association (sic) …

    I hadn’t heard this. The web pages for both show that he’s still a member of both:


    June 28, 2008
  84. Ross Currier said:

    Last night there was a rumor going ’round the JuneBug that Wendy Smith was going to challenge Kris Vohs for the at-large seat. I see today in the News that she’s not running for re-election to the School Board in order to pursue other challenges. She’s got community-wide name recognition, is a few decades younger, after eight years on the Board knows how to play vigorously but respectfully in the school yard, and is a talented singer and guitarist. It’s a pretty appealing package.

    June 28, 2008
  85. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I have to mention another name for the at-large seat, David Koenig. We have been hearing from him lately on Locally Grown, and he has a great column in Saturday paper comparing city manager and strong mayor forms of government. He served two years on the Council in the past, and his expertise in the area of finance is unsurpassed.

    June 30, 2008
  86. Griff Wigley said:

    Mary Rossing is running for Mayor. Here’s her press release:

    For immediate release: June 30, 2008

    After much deliberation and conversation with a wide variety of citizens, I am announcing my candidacy for Mayor of Northfield. I believe that the citizens of Northfield deserve another choice for their civic leader. I believe I am the right person to bring back a sense of civility, respect and pride to our local government. I believe the citizens of Northfield are ready for a change and are looking for a leader that can move us ahead in a positive way as we face the challenges of the next four years.

    As a local business owner and long-time resident I have watched closely as our town has changed, grown, and redefined itself over recent years. Northfield is indeed a very special place to live, to work, to raise a family, and to cultivate an amazing group of friends. But there are some significant challenges ahead as we decide how best to use our limited resources. Replacing aged facilities, infrastructure, and outdated ideas of what we can be are some of the issues that we will need to tackle together.

    I love this town, and I believe that Northfield is poised to be a model community. We have an amazingly thoughtful, insightful, and engaged citizenry. We have a wealth of solid, homegrown and locally-owned businesses with motivated owners. There is also a strong vein of entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in this college community. We have high quality schools, beautiful neighborhoods, a vibrant downtown — and we are blessed with numerous non-profit organizations that foster our interests in the arts, our history, our young people, seniors, and those with special needs. There is much to be proud of in Northfield.

    I want the citizens of Northfield to have the same sense of pride in their local government and their elected officials. I believe we need a mayor who can build bridges, foster relationships, and take into account diverse opinions, but who is also not afraid to make decisions and move forward. I believe that I can be an effective leader for Northfield.

    Mary Rossing
    5 Walden Place

    (w) 507 645-9131
    (h) 507 581-9922

    June 30, 2008
  87. Lisa Guidry said:


    You are a great leader, and I am happy to hear that you will run for mayor. You can count on me to help you with the campaign.

    June 30, 2008
  88. Jessica Paxton said:

    I have much admiration for all of the candidates in the upcoming mayoral election (as well as for those choosing to seek council seats). To run for office requires a significant amount of passion and concern for this community — it’s much easier to talk about “change” vs. being an actual agent for change.

    With that in mind, I am pleased to learn of Mary’s candidacy. Yes, I admit she’s a good friend. And as such, I’ve witnessed first-hand over the years her ability to “build bridges and mend fences.” Her enthusiasm for this town is such an inspiration — and I thank and credit her for my own civic involvement. When I moved here six years ago, I didn’t know anyone. But with her encouragement, I took the plunge. Now, I can’t imagine not being involved. I love this town and it’s people like Mary that make it such a wonderful place.

    I very much look forward to the upcoming election. We are very fortunate to have a group of committed citizens willing to push up their shirt sleeves and work hard to better our community.

    June 30, 2008
  89. Julie Bixby said:

    I think you would make a great mayor! You understand the dynamics of what is involved. You are a fantastic people person, one who really cares about Northfield and the residents. Your community involvement has shown all of us what kind of mayor you would be.
    All the best to you!

    July 2, 2008
  90. Griff Wigley said:

    Alan Lindberg has filed for Ward 3. Anyone know anything about him?

    July 2, 2008
  91. Griff Wigley said:

    Anne Maple has filed for School Board.

    July 2, 2008
  92. Griff Wigley said:

    Jake Gillen has filed for his seat, District 1. Jerry Anderson has filed for Rice Cty District 5. Both of those seats involve Northfield Wards.

    Milt Plaisance has filed for his seat, District 3. And Gary Wagenbach has file for District 4.

    July 2, 2008
  93. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Eymard Boehmer of Wheatland Township, Montgomery area, may be a potential candidate for County Commissioner Jim Brown’s seat. I hear good things about Jeff Docken, but it’s always good to have two people running, so the public gets more chance to compare and contrast.

    July 2, 2008
  94. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I would be on cloud nine if Gary Wagenbach filed for county commissioner, but that would be Jake Gillen’s district, Dist. 1. You may want to doublecheck, Griff.

    July 2, 2008
  95. John Thomas said:


    How about 2 separate tabs on the nav bar specifically for LOCAL Elections, and one for National Election discussions.

    I am sure we are going to have LOTS to talk about, but it would be nice to keep those out of the normal stream of things, as there will be a ton of postings.

    Also, it would be nice to give users another option for just these messages in e-mail form.

    -Just a thought.

    July 2, 2008
  96. Tracy Davis said:

    John, we talked about variations of this idea at our triumvirate meeting after yesterday’s podcast. We haven’t conclusively decided on a course of action, but it appears we’re thinking along the same lines you are. Thanks for the suggestion.

    July 3, 2008
  97. Griff Wigley said:

    Jerold D. Friedman has filed for the 3rd Ward. Anyone know anything about him?

    July 7, 2008
  98. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Jerold Friedman has actually filed for the 2nd Ward seat (Secretary of State’s website lists a campaign address on Elianna Drive, which is a street of townhomes east of the soccer complex).

    I’m sorry Noah Cashman is leaving the Council – certainly his sister and her family should take priority and his assessment that he can’t do adequately do his new “day job” and devote sufficient attention to his constituents is a rational decision. His voice on council was a strong one and I was hoping to serve with Noah if I won the 2nd Ward seat in November.

    Thanks Noah.

    July 9, 2008
  99. David DeLong said:

    Ok Griff – This might stimulate some action. I filed for the 4 year at large council position.

    July 9, 2008
  100. Patrick Enders said:

    The resignation of Noah Cashman is a great loss for the city. I hope for the best for his sister Sarah.

    July 9, 2008
  101. Tracy Davis said:

    David D., just to clarify – this is the position currently held by Kris Vohs, correct?

    Thank you for letting us know!

    July 9, 2008
  102. David DeLong said:

    Yes Tracy, that would be the seat. I thought that with the resignation of Noah Cashman people might be confused and think i was filing for the remainder of that term. Iwas trying to be out front of the curve by identifying the position sought by term length as that is how the offices will be differentiated on the election ballot.(Charter Sec. 5.5)

    The Charter also outlines other information you or others may find interesting about the vacancy that exists because of the resignation.

    From Sec 3.5
    the council shall by resolution declare the vacancy to exist and shall forthwith appoint an eligible person to fill the vacancy.
    If the vacancy occurs between January 1 and July 31, the appointee shall serve until the end of the current year.
    A replacement shall be elected on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of the year in which the appointment expires.
    the elected replacement shall have a shortened term that fills the unexpired part of the term of the person requiring replacement.

    And Sec. 5.3
    The procedure of such election shall conform as nearly as possible to that prescribed for other municipal elections, except that a primary election shall not be held for any special election for filling a vacancy or vacancies in the council.

    And Sec. 5.6
    A candidate seeking to fill the unexpired term of a vacated office shall file an affidavit of candidacy with the city clerk not more than 70 days nor less than 56 days before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

    Which I believe works out to be from Tuesday August 26th to Tuesday September 9th.

    I hope that helps clarify things for you. Now all we need is some one to clarify what kind of time frame forthwith might entail.

    July 10, 2008
  103. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I am getting good feedback about Matt Drevlow, president of the board for Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault, who has filed for the Dist. 3 seat currently held by Jake Gillen (see Tuesday Faribault Daily News). He lives in the country, has his business in town, a good combination.

    The impression I have is that Faribault gets very little consideration from the County Board, possibly due to the fact that none of the 3 commissioners who represent parts of the city (Plaisance, Gillen and Bauer) live in town. A prime example would be allowing Metcon to relocate from Faribault industrial park to the ag zone north of there as a “contractor’s yard.” That allowed use in the county ordinance was meant for a small business with a couple of trucks, not relocation of a major industry. Malt O Meal has now built a huge warehouse at that location and I’m hearing of other businesses to follow. It is throwing a lot of truck traffic onto township roads, including ours.

    July 10, 2008
  104. I’ve been thinking about running for council in the upcoming elections – I’m eligible for 2nd Ward, both At-Large, and Mayor. But I need some advice:

    I’m pretty sure that if Lee Lansing had not run for Mayor in 2004 and succeeded, but had instead focused on his building & business venture, we would all now be buying our booze at the municipal liquor store in his building in the 600 block.

    My dilemma is this: I intend to reapply for rezoning of my property (my home) at 1001 Division Street from residential to commercial as and when the new Comp Plan is done – likely, this will not be until the end of 2008.

    I understand that the prospects for rezoning being granted are good. But I imagine Lee Lansing has a similar confidence about his project, until he became Mayor Lansing and the sky fell in.

    Needless to say, I am not considering public office in order to get 1001 rezoned. So what do you advise?

    July 10, 2008
  105. Patrick Enders said:

    My $0.02, and I am not a lawyer: I’d advise running for office. If elected, I’d recommend 1) stating your intentions regarding your home in advance (check), and recusing yourself from all official discussions (in meetings as well as outside communications) that touch on 1) the rezoning of your property in particular (duh), 2) any discussion of the rules by which downtown properties are considered for zoning changes, and 3) any discussion of changes to the actual zoning of the area containing your property.

    That still leaves you with a very wide range of job activities you could perform without recusal. When it comes time for the council to vote on your request (does the Council vote on all zoning changes?), you could recuse yourself, and speak on the subject from the pulpit, as an ordinary citizen with a request.

    Your question does lead to other interesting ones, though:
    At what point does your financial stake in Chapati and the Contented Cow constitute a conflict of interest?
    It would seem that you should be able to discuss things that affect all businesses equally, such as general tax levies, or – say – parking regulations.
    But might it be a conflict of interest if you voted on the fee rate for sidewalk dining? If so, is it a conflict of interest to avocate for sidewalk dining in general? I think not.

    My own limited (and not recent) reading of the Charter doesn’t give me a clear sense of exactly where that line lies – except that it comes somewhere before directing public business to your own door.

    This isn’t a new problem, so there must be good guidelines out there which could be of help. And maybe an elaboration of the Charter’s “conflict of interest” section is in order to keep you (or any other hypothetical office holder) out of peril of unintentional misdeed.

    July 10, 2008
  106. Griff Wigley said:

    Norman, I’d advise against running since you don’t have a track record of serving in some other public or civic leadership capacity. Better to get the location rezoned with the new council, maybe try to get appointed to some board or commission to start learning the ropes from the other side, and then consider running in 2010.

    July 10, 2008
  107. Bruce Wiskus said:


    I am going to have to disagree with your post #119 on advising Norm not to run.

    I do not know Norm other than seeing him in his businesses. However I would highly recommend that he or anyone else who is interested run for election to the council.

    I get tired of people who say that because you have not been involved in public service before you can not run for city council. To say that because Norm, or anyone else, has not spent time on the planning commission, etc. they do not posses the abilities to be an effective council member, is a ludicrous position to take. Any citizen who has concerns about the way the city has run the last few years has the right to file and run.

    Now if you are saying there is a potential conflict of interest based on his home and the rezoning I think that is more of a personal matter. I think Patrick does a nice job of laying out a good way form Norm to go about that process. As long as he, Norm, is up front about his application and removes himself from any conflicting votes I do not see a problem.

    I am hoping for a new council to be seated that is ready to put the past few years behind them and work towards putting the city back on track. I think this will be a very important election for the future of the city.

    I encourage every interested person to file and run.

    July 10, 2008
  108. Tracy Davis said:

    Thanks for chiming in, Bruce.

    Norman either inadvertently or deliberately brings up a very interesting point. The City charter defines a conflict of interest very clearly; I don’t see anything wrong with Norman running for council as long as he clearly declares his interest in any particular action regarding a property he owns.

    However, as the recent liquor store fracas has demonstrated, there’s a difference between declaring an interest, and lobbying behind the scenes on behalf of that interest. In addition, there are those in this community who are not content with state law and city ordinance, and think that if an elected official benefits in any way from a decision made by the City, it’s unethical. Not being so simplistic or literally-minded, I disagree. But that’s the sort of issue Norman would be facing.

    My two bits’ worth: Norman, I’d be happy to have you represent me on the council, but I think you might actually do more good for Northfield as an independent business owner doing what you do so well now.

    July 10, 2008
  109. kiffi summa said:

    Actually, Griff, Norman does have a big fat track record of holding public office in England, and in a much more complicated district system than the council here in goodold (fast becoming bigbad) Northfield. So he is no stranger to political process.

    Based on your recommendation, Mary Rossing should be feeling that you don’t think she should run either…is that so?

    I think it might be of some slight advantage to have been on a Board/Commission, but not necessarily; The most important thing is that the person running should be really engaged in the process. There’s always a first time to get engaged; the willingness to work hard for the community is ALL… the most important factor by far.

    Go for it, Norm!

    July 11, 2008
  110. Anne Bretts said:

    Norman, for someone who wants to offer the city a clean slate, why would you bring along a pocketful of chalk instead of an eraser?
    Please resolve your zoning issue and then run two years from now. Spare the city another round of confusion and complications, just when the council should be sitting down and solving problems together.
    I don’t feel that businesspeople should be barred from voting on tax issues, it’s just that your rezoning is such a very personal and specific issue that it should not become an election issue — or an issue after the election.
    Declaring that you want the rezoning makes it a question for other candidates. Will you work to defeat candidates who are qualified in other areas but who have declared they will vote against your financial interests? Will you be able to work with them if they are elected and vote against you?
    You and they shouldn’t have to be in that uncomfortable position.

    July 11, 2008
  111. I agree with Anne Bretts (Post #123,and Griff W., it’s just a sticky wicket, luv.

    July 11, 2008
  112. Felicity Enders said:

    Anne, would you also bar anyone who rents or owns a rental in Northfield from running, on the theory that they will have to help revise a rental code that will affect their property? What about the owner of a historic building who intends to have work done that will be affected by the building code?

    The answer is not to bar anyone with a potential conflict from running for or holding office. The recusal system, though not used properly recently, will work if people use common sense to avoid getting into hot water. And of course, the best solution is simply to do a thorough update of the charter, including reasons for and full description of recusal from discussion/voting.

    July 11, 2008
  113. Anne Bretts said:

    Felicity, you make excellent points, and ordinarily I would agree with you. I think Norm could vote on broad rental codes and other policy issues that involve him as a part of a larger group. Given the particular players involved in this situation, however, along with the potential for controversy over the proposal and the raw feelings on the council right now, I just think it would be wise to allow Norm to lobby to his full capability as a private citizen and resolve his zoning problem, then wait until the next election to join the council. To have one of the mayor’s closest supporters involved in a contentious issue with some of the same councilors who have survived the last year seems to be an odd way of creating a clean slate.

    July 11, 2008
  114. David Koenig said:

    Norman, many in these blogs discuss transparency as being important in our government processes. You have been very transparent on at least these two things:

    1. You’d like to run for council
    2. You’d like a zoning change for your building

    From my perspective, you have done what is needed to be in the clear regarding your candidacy…so, go for it! There is no experience requirement and voters are left to judge whether they want to give you the power to make decisions as their representative.

    If (or when) you are elected, then I would suggest that you establish a very high standard of disclosure and transparency for items that will benefit you disproportionally and recuse yourself from discussion and voting on such items….just as you said you would do.

    July 11, 2008
  115. john george said:

    Felicity- Your comment,”…The answer is not to bar anyone with a potential conflict from running for or holding office. The recusal system, though not used properly recently, will work if people use common sense to avoid getting into hot water…” really hits two nails on the head. Unless a person is from another planet, which actually disqualifies him anyway, there is no possible way to avoid every possibility of a conflicy of interest. The local government does, after all, affect every citizen living in Northfield. There has been so much media attention on the national level to this type of thing that I think your second comment hits the other nail- common sense. This quality, unfortunately, is becoming a scarce commodity recently. I think it was Samuel Clements who said that the only problem with common sense is that it is not very common anymore. Great observations on your part.

    David- Great example of Felicity’s common sense approach. I think the level of hysteria in this town could be lowered considerably if the elected officials just follow the directives. There is validity to avoiding even the appearance of impropriety, and this is done through transparency IMNSHO.

    July 11, 2008
  116. kiffi summa said:

    Just so everyone understands … if they had read all the background memos from the infamous Everett report, and all the council packets, AND been at the meetings or watched them on TV, they would know that the Mayor has checked with the city attorney (both verbally and in writing) constantly on his need to recuse himself, gone beyond all legal requirements to recuse himself from meetings, and regardless of how you feel about the Mayor, not recusing himself is not something of which he can be legitimately accused.

    July 11, 2008
  117. Griff Wigley said:

    Former City Councilor Dana Graham filed for the Council at-large seat today.

    July 11, 2008
  118. john george said:

    If the mayor has done everything correctly, why was there an alegation of unethical behavior against him out of all the investigations? Maybe I missed something here, but I thought that was the result.

    July 11, 2008
  119. Kiffi, I could not agree more with your post #129. However, the question still remains in my mind if the mayor did not ‘accidentally’ throw in an extra tulip bulb in someone’s brown paper bag. (I am being facetious.)

    July 11, 2008
  120. kiffi summa said:

    Bright: I rely upon the fact that regardless of what the speculation is about what the Mayor may , or may not have done, there is no proof to be found in the Everett reports,only accusation, and there is nothing in the closed meeting tapes, and it was this City Council who for Two solid years identified the Mayor’s son’s property as their preferred site for the liquor store …and that is something most of them would prefer to forget.

    This has all been personal, and directed around issues of power, and has been nothing but sheer hell for our community, and all the people involved.

    And now, fearing to “lose face”, this council is likely to vote severance and legal fees for the administrator who has sought and gained another job, in a community he thinks more highly of, leaving the wreckage of personal politics, and “shopping for answers” behind him, to say nothing of the morass of a criminal investigation ongoing in Goodhue County.

    July 11, 2008
  121. Griff Wigley said:

    Don McGee has filed for the city council 3rd Ward seat.

    July 12, 2008
  122. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nfld News has an updated story on Noah Cashman’s resignation:
    Cashman resigns from council (print version)

    Attorney Swanson says under the city’s charter, the council must, by resolution, declare the position vacant, and then appoint someone to fill it. Since Cashman’s seat was at-large, anyone 21 or older who lives anywhere in the city may be appointed. Since the vacancy occurs before Aug. 1, the appointee will serve until the end of this year.

    A replacement to serve until the end of Cashman’s term, Dec. 31, 2010, will be elected this November. That race must be designated as special and separate from the regular council election on the ballot.

    July 12, 2008
  123. Griff Wigley said:

    Anyone know what the deadlines are for filing Noah Cashman’s seat? If more than two file, will there be a primary? When would that be held?

    It seems like we could have a scenario in which the candidates who lose in the Sept. primary for the 2nd, 3rd, and Vohs at-large seat could run in a primary for Cashman’s at-large seat… but only if the filing dates accommodated for it.

    July 12, 2008
  124. Anne Bretts said:

    When more than a dozen former mayors and councilors review a situation and publicly ask the mayor to resign, there is more involved than personal attacks and power plays by an individual staff member.

    July 12, 2008
  125. Bruce Wiskus said:

    Ann I tend to agree with your post (#1370 as well as Kiffi’s post (#133). That is the crux of the problem with the mayoral situation right now.

    Mayor Lansing very well may have done everything to make sure that he recused himself of the discussions on the liquor store site. However he still sent letters and was party to a lawsuit. While the action taken by the Mayor may have been within the bounds of ethics they had a perception of stepping over the line to the average citizen.

    I believe that is the reason for the former members request that the mayor resign.

    Unfortunately for the mayor this was not the only situation that was happening on the council and in the city administration at the time. Between the flap over the chief of police’ heroin comments, the issues with the city administrator, and the liquor store situation a number of citizens have and are questioning the direction of city government.

    July 12, 2008
  126. David DeLong said:

    Griff – My post #115 gives charter information about a special election primary (none) and filing period which if I added correctly would be Tuesday August 26th to Tuesday September 9th.

    July 12, 2008
  127. Griff Wigley said:

    Thx, David D. Since it appears there will be a primary on Sept. 9 (more than 2 candidates for misc Council openings), your tabulation for the at-large filing period (Cashman’s seat) would mean that those who LOSE in the primary would not be able to file for it, correct?

    I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

    July 13, 2008
  128. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Referring back to comment #137

    Concerning the meeting of former mayors and council persons, one of them told me later that she really regretted being a party to asking Lee to resign when she was not fully informed.

    July 13, 2008
  129. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s the deadline for filing. Big unknowns for city council/mayor:

    Lee Lansing
    Jon Denison
    Margit Johnson
    Victor Summa
    Norman Butler

    Big unknown for school board:

    Diane Cirksena

    Any others?

    Any predictions?

    July 15, 2008
  130. Griff Wigley said:

    Eduardo Wolle has filed for mayor, according to this story on the Nfld News website:

    Former politician files for mayor

    It never occurred to me that being a school board member and/or a planning commissioner means you’re a politician. I’ll have to bring this up with Ross and Tracy, my PC politician co-hosts, on tomorrow’s podcast.

    July 15, 2008
  131. Jon Denison said:

    I would consider a school board member a politician as it is an electable position (for which I’ve run once before) that requires a certain degree of campaigning to win and accountability to the public for performance.

    A board or commission member is a different animal (so to speak) in that they have no direct accountability to the public for performance although they definitely interact with the public in a similar manner to an elected person. The big difference, in my opinion, is that the elected body is more directly responsible and accountable for the commission’s or board’s performance.

    A council member can be fired by the public either through an election or a recall. A board or commission member can only be fired by the council through being removed or not reappointed.

    July 15, 2008
  132. Betsey Buckheit said:

    The Secretary of State’s website includes Eduardo Wolle, plus these school board candidates:

    Ellen Iverson
    Kevin Budig
    Diane Cirksena

    July 15, 2008
  133. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Peter MIllin has also filed for school board.

    July 15, 2008
  134. David Koenig said:

    I found this website full of statistics about various towns. The link below is for Northfield and the surrounding area (55057 zip code):


    I’m sure that the student population distorts some of the statistics, but it is interesting to see things like how much our schools spend per pupil versus the national average, etc. ($5,638 in Northfield vs. $6,058 nationally).

    16% of residents in our area have a graduate degree, but if you remove the college students from the calculation, I would guess that this figure jumps to about 22%. The national average is about 7%.

    2/3 of Northfielders are “religious” versus 50% nationally.

    Does this mean that we are well-educated, but have faith that our underspending on schools will work out in the long run?

    Fun with statistics!

    July 15, 2008
  135. Griff Wigley said:

    “Ribbed, For Your Civic Pleasure.”

    Great slogan, Brendon… and a delight to have you in the race.

    July 15, 2008
  136. I have decided not to go for it this time. I will think about Noah’s vacated seat and two years down the road (same seat). Many thanks for all the intelligent and well-meaning comments.

    July 15, 2008
  137. Jerry Bilek said:

    Our next mayor:
    – Brendon Etter: Less Stupider Than You Might Think

    the slogan of a winning campaign!

    July 15, 2008
  138. Griff Wigley said:

    3 more candidates for mayor filed just before 5pm:

    Lee Lansing
    Jon Denison
    James Schlicting

    July 15, 2008
  139. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s the final list, though candidates have 2 days to withdraw their names:


    David Hvistendahl
    Paul Hager
    Mary Rossing
    Eduardo Wolle
    Jon Denison
    James Schlicting
    Lee Lansing

    2nd Ward

    Betsey Buckheit
    Jerold Friedman

    3rd Ward

    Alan Lindberg
    Erica Zweifel
    Don McGee


    Kris Vohs
    David DeLong
    Dana Graham

    July 15, 2008
  140. Griff Wigley said:

    I got this email attachment from James Schlichting:

    I am announcing my candidacy for Mayor of Northfield because I want to bring calm to city politics. My intention is to balance and promote job growth while preserving Northfield’s special “micropolitian” flavor. I believe that success at city hall depends on relationships—reasonable people can disagree; however, reasonable people do not have to be disagreeable. My hope is to restore working relationships among all community stakeholders.

    My background in our community is as a trustee on the Northfield Hospital Board, a trustee with St. John’s Foundation, a member of Rotary, the former president of ArtOrg, and a former director of The Science Center at Maltby Nature Preserve. Additionally, I am a volunteer mediator with Rice County Dispute Resolution and I do pro-bono work for Legal Aid.

    At the age of 16, I learned to be self-reliant when I had to operate one of the grain combines on the family farm and assist in managing the livestock when my father, John Schlichting was hospitalized for two months. I learned at an early age that I liked challenges and running for Mayor of Northfield certainly qualifies as a challenge.

    I grew up in southern Minnesota, attended St. Olaf College, served as a line officer in the U.S. Navy and I practice business, real estate and family law in Albert Lea and Northfield. I devote part of my practice to alternative dispute resolution: mediation, early neutral evaluations, and collaborative law. These are all cooperative processes that help restore civility to personal and professional relationships.

    For more information about my candidacy please see my website: http://www.SchlichtingforMayor.com. I am interested in your opinions, comments, cheers and jeers about Northfield politics—send an email to: talktome@schlichtingformayor.com and let’s talk about a comprehensive plan for growth and positive change for our city.

    July 15, 2008
  141. Tried to email Mr. Schlichting, and it bounced back, from his site, not my typing.

    July 15, 2008
  142. Griff Wigley said:

    Same thing happened to me, Bright. James, fire your tech staff!

    July 15, 2008
  143. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News has a new story for today’s paper: Four more file for mayor on last day.

    The previous two stories have been ‘buried’, ie, the links still work (comment #157 above) but they’re not visible from the home/news page.

    The sidebar on that page has the complete listing of candidates who filed for the other races:


    Kevin Budig
    Diane Cirksena
    Robert Hardy
    Katy Hargis
    Ellen R. Iverson
    Anne Maple
    Peter Millin
    Jeff Quinnell


    Matt Drevlow
    Jacob G. Gillen


    Milt Plaisance
    F. John Rowan


    Jerry Anderson
    Gary Bruggenthies
    Jeff Docken
    Mike Piper


    Craig Altendorfer
    Dean Birnstengel
    Joseph A. Harris
    Doug Riles


    David Bly (DFL)
    Tim Rud (GOP)


    Pat Garofalo (GOP)
    Bev Topp (DFL)

    U.S. REP,

    John Kline (GOP)
    Steve Sarvi (DFL)

    July 16, 2008
  144. Tracy Davis said:

    I saw Jim Schlicting this morning and he said that the email address above should be working shortly, so I’d encourage anyone to try again tomorrow or in the next few days.

    July 16, 2008
  145. Griff Wigley said:

    Let’s hope that Jim will alert us here when it’s working.

    July 16, 2008
  146. Dear Ms. Davis,

    This is just so typical.  Your posting, where you attempt to divert attention from the salient issues I have been raising here for so very long, also completely ignores my candidacy for the mayor’s seat.  

    As hard as that is to believe, I guess we can expect nothing less from such a self-interested, inside-the-system, entrenched cronysta like yourself.

    Not me.  I’m an outsider.  An agent for change.  Smoky.  Sensual.

    And you’d better believe I’m back in the race!  Rise up, my people!

     Full details here.



    July 16, 2008
  147. Jerry Bilek said:

    I witnessed first hand the Etter machine at work today. The Brendon Etter campaign bus was busy soliciting votes from dog walkers in south central Northfield. Do not overestimate the power of the stealth write in campaign of Mr. Etter.

    July 16, 2008
  148. Curt Benson said:

    Brendon, may I offer a slogan? “Good, Etter, Best!” You could campaign as the middle of the road, dare I suggest, mediocre alternative. It would be unseemly to showboat as the “Best”. Yet, you’d not want to be just “good”–because that might suggest you’d have to slink off to some packing house town in Kansas or Nebraska after your humiliating tenure as mayor here. Capice?

    July 16, 2008
  149. Sounds good, Curt! Glad to have you on-board as a highly-paid strategist / spin doctor (payment from outside sources only to steer clear of pesky campaign finance laws).

    My first initial and last name spell “BEtter”. I thought about running with the slogan “Can’t find a Better man.” It’s a Pearl Jam song, too. The kids’ll love that.

    But why limit myself to one or two slogans? I say run with as many as possible, whipping them out as circumstances warrant.

    Keep the great ideas coming!

    July 16, 2008
  150. Britt Ackerman said:

    Brendon, I must say that your write-in strategy is brilliant.

    The primary will limit the playing field to two candidates. Until then, you can simply wait, in a smoky, sensual, and dare I say stealthy, manner.

    After the vote narrows the field to two, you’ll only need enough votes to beat out two candidates rather than five!

    I foresee you’ll focus on the “Jesse Ventura” voters. Perhaps you should begin growing your facial hair now, so you can have full-frontal-facial dreads by November.

    You won’t need to spend any money on the campaign, nor will you need to show up at any forums or debates.

    I would recommend hand-written yard signs that say “Etter is Better”, and don’t bother beginning your campaign any time prior to October 31st. In fact, a Halloween-theme might be cute.

    Just as Ventura did, you could totally throw the pollsters off. Also, a wild card like you can really have an effect on the Vegas bookies–you’re going to cause an unbalanced book, which means for once the gamblers might be able to top the bookie and beat the race odds.

    July 16, 2008
  151. Jon Denison said:

    Britt Ackerman said:

    You won’t need to spend any money on the campaign, nor will you need to show up at any forums or debates.

    Hmmmmmmmmmm, I wonder where I’ve seen that work before?

    Good luck Mr. Etter, I’d be honored to serve with you (as wheather I win or lose I’ll still be on the council). I’m not offering my endorsement by no means, as I’m sure you’d not take it anyway LOL.

    July 16, 2008
  152. Britt, Jon, Tracy, Thank you for the helpful comments. I agree: I am almost too handsome and dangerous and mysterious to be in something as trivial as politics. I knew this going in, but I’m so glad you are there to remind me. (This isn’t exactly what you wrote, but I can read between the lines. The love is clearly there.)

    You know, we’ve been through so much together… there was that one time… remember that? That was so great! Because of our intense shared histories, and all we’ve learned from each other, I’m glad that each of you is marching lockstep behind me in my race to power.

    Tracy, here’s some guidance to help unwrap a little bit of the mystery behind the man. Not too much, or it wouldn’t be a mystery.

    Incidentally, I’m looking for some free bumper stickers, buttons, yard signs, t-shirts for the campaign. Anyone?

    July 16, 2008
  153. Bruce Morlan said:

    Brenden, I have some slightly used Gore and Bush lawn signs, etc, if that would help (you could write in your name and change the “president” to “mayor”.

    July 17, 2008
  154. Boo-yaa! (That’s something the kids say.)

    Damn right! I want those signs, Bruce! This is exactly the sort of outside-the-box-plot thinking you want in your friendly neighborhood statistician.

    I work at the Carleton Bookstore, or you could drop them off with my wife at Leota Goodney’s office above Blue Monday.

    I’ll edit the signs, and then I would just need some volunteers who would somewhat-willingly post the signs on their lawns.


    July 17, 2008
  155. […] After having his A Play A Day & Lysteria blog featured in the January 2008 “Best of the Twin Cities” edition of Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine (The best blogs by locals–from near and far),  Brendon Etter, textbook manager of the Carleton Bookstore, earlier this week announced his candidacy for Mayor in a comment here on Locally Grown. […]

    July 18, 2008
  156. Scott Davis said:

    Hey Griff, why not just call the city and get the information directly from the source. There is life outside of the blogosphere. 645-8833

    July 29, 2008
  157. Anne Bretts said:

    Let’s take a wild stab here. The filings just closed, so there is a meeting for all the candidates to explain the job they’re seeking and the election process and laws and answer questions. There’s no agenda published because it’s just an informational meeting for candidates with no official business. It will be open to the public, but it’s not a public meeting in the traditional sense. It’s done every election cycle in most every town around.
    How’d I do, Scott?

    July 29, 2008
  158. kiffi summa said:

    Mr. Wm. Bassett, the former interim city administrator, is conducting this info session .
    Will they hire him a second time, to do one for candidates running for
    the Vacated at-large seat of C. Cashman, after those candidates file between Aug 26, and Sept 9th?

    Big, BIG night at City Hall … 4:30 EDA infill committee meeting; 5PM Special Charter Commission meeting, 6 PM Candidates info session, 7 PM Planning Commission meeting…

    July 29, 2008

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