David Hvistendahl, mad as hell, announces run for mayor

David Hvistendahl David Hvistendahl David Hvistendahl David Hvistendahl David Hvistendahl

We got this email from attorney and Froggy Bottoms River Pub proprietor David Hvistendahl this evening:

I am mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!  I want all of you citizens of Northfield to throw open your windows and yell at the top of your lungs, I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!

Yes, I am running for mayor, and I have a serious and defined agenda.  A few of the highlights–

1.   CLEAN HOUSE AT CITY HALL.  When you want to reform a totally dysfunctional organization, you need to start at the top–the city administrator is our highest appointed official.  The buck stops with him.  Whether he is charged with criminal offenses or not, he should not a free pass for allowing our city government to wallow in mediocrity. The administration needs to reveal under whose watch the millions disappeared, and how are systems failed us.

2.   PRIORITIZE THE CITY BUILDING PROJECTS, RECYCLE AND REUSE.   The highest priority should be given to building a new police/fire complex on the MnDOT site between Woodley and Ninth Street.  The municipal liquor store should go into the present fire station, with the basement used as a warehouse.  A freight elevator can move the product to the first floor, where it can be high stacked.  The police offices should be recycled for use by the Chamber, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the NDDC.  The present Muni could be recycled as a home for the youth groups, such as the Union of Youth, and youth service organizations.

The hockey arena is an embarrasment to the city, and spending $1.4 million on it will not make it any less of an embarrasment.  We need a convention center large enough to hold two sheets of ice.  The project can be made affordable by negotiating with one of the colleges a land lease in exchange for ice time and use and by expanding our tax base.

3.   CHANGE LOCATION OF THE SKATEBOARD PARK AND ESTABLISH PRIORITIES FOR THE PARK BOARD.  Next to considering the mayor’s property for the location of Muni, the most dimwitted decision of this council has been to put the skateboard park at the busiest intersection in the city. Ames Park has no bathrooms and no parking.  The fact that is farther away from the  park  board  members’ homes than the  Memorial  Park location should not be the deciding factor.

4.   INCREASE THE CITY’S TAX BASE.    In order to accomplish the projects mentioned in 2 and 3, the city needs to pursue an aggressive policy of annexation to the north and west to accommodate commercial and industrial growth.  At the present rate of annexation, the signs for Exit 69 will read, “Faribault, first of six exits; also Northfield.” Just drive south from Highway 19 exit and count the miles to large industrial properties that mark Faribault’s northern most boundary.

We do not have an orderly annexation agreement with Waterford Township, so we should annex the township to give us industrial and commercial sites on Highway 3, Dakota Co. 47, and Highway 19.  Our present annexation ordinance directly conflicts with the state statute, which preempts any contrary local ordinances.  We need to bring our ordinance into conformance with the state law, which does allow annexation without the township’s permission.

More to come. . . .


  1. David Hv. has my vote! (Henceforth you can use Hv., a customary abbreviation in the family.)
    By the way, how do I get one of those smiley face icons to put here?
    Susan Hv.

    April 16, 2008
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Susan, just type a colon, a hyphen, and a right parenthesis. With spaces in between, it looks like this:

    : – )

    but without spaces, it turns into this:


    In today’s Nfld News: Hvistendahl says he’ll run for mayor.

    April 16, 2008
  3. Patrick Enders said:

    David Hv,
    Thanks for kicking off the ’08 mayoral election with a bang! I can see Northfield will have no shortage of big ideas to discuss in this election year.

    April 16, 2008
  4. Felicity Enders said:

    What a great way to wake up this morning! David, thanks for the great thoughts and for opening the discussion.

    April 16, 2008
  5. Thanks, Griff. : – ) This one works.
    🙂 wihtout spaces, doesn’t convert, here at least.
    Emoticons (I think they are called) can be useful when one is not quite sure of the writer’s intention.

    April 16, 2008
  6. Well, how about that? It did convert! : – )
    OK, back to the conversation thread.

    April 16, 2008
  7. I admire a candidate who announces a clear intention–and in advance of the filing period. Thanks for getting things rolling, Dave.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    April 16, 2008
  8. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I think Waterford Township DOES have an annexation agreement with Northfield and it’s backed up in statute. Greenvale, on the other hand, may be more vulnerable. Keep in mind, though, that hostile annexations have longterm negative effects in a community.

    Thanks for speaking so plainly, Dave Hv. Gets us off to a great start.

    April 16, 2008
  9. Tracy Davis said:

    Stephanie, there’s strong indication that the agreement in place between Northfield and Waterford township is probably invalid, since it has no defined term. But it would require a legal challenge to make that determination, and I understand your concerns about hostile annexations.

    April 16, 2008
  10. The clarity is refreshing, but the message… ummmmm… i.e., annex the township? That would also require providing services in the here and now, taking over water, sewer, roads, and that’s costly. Owatonna paid dearly for their overreach for Cabela’s, at city/taxpayer expense, and it’s been slow to fill in. Have infrastructure costs been recovered? Proceed with care!

    This will be a boisterous and interesting election!

    April 16, 2008
  11. David Ludescher said:

    David: Do you still represent the former police chief?

    April 16, 2008
  12. john george said:

    I guess anyone who is old enough can run for this office. Seems we’ve been looking for someone to return the “contentment” to the cows and colleges. Will this approach really accomplish that? It all may make for a colorful campaign period, but I think I will vote for the one who shows his true colors and I agreee with them.

    April 16, 2008
  13. John S. Thomas said:


    I love the platform, and the fact that you are jumping in early.

    Is there some way that you would consider the Safety Center as some sort of “Gateway” building, instead of the Muni? I like the integrated trail head / Canoe Rental / Tourism Center / Transit Hub concept, that would tie activity to both the river and the downtown.

    I think the muni needs to move out on Hwy 3 somewhere (perhaps near the Cinema, or near the Q block)

    The new safety center at Woodley and 3 would tie down that end as an anchor point.

    You tie that to Veterans Park and Memorial Park via trail to the River Park (existing)

    I think the skate park would be better suited behind the current safety center.

    The walking bridge can be adjusted slightly to connect this area and River Park across the way, to the Farmers market, and other activities, as well as giving access for the residents near the Village on the Cannon to the ‘transit’ hub at the new location.

    This would then beg for redevelopment of the River Park Mall. Since this was an old grocery store, the floor is built to support a significant amount of weight. We renovate it, open the rear to face the river, and put a single level library space, some conference facilities, the Chamber, and the CVB in there, so they are more visible and accessible to the community. Some City departments may also be able to have space here, and others could potentially use the Library building.

    We then expand the trail / walk behind Just Food and the other building on 5th and Water, and tie it into the 5th & Water project.

    The Canoe project can adjust the dam, and the way the river walk ties into downtown, and tie it in with the Crossing project. We then have access to the River all the way from the Rodeo grounds to the Crossing.

    I think a SERIOUS inventory of all of the Cities building assets, could glean a method to do some serious improvements through realignments, with minimal costs.

    You have all these “pearls”. They just need to be sequenced, polished, and strung together.

    A – Thanks for the thoughts on this as well. I am posting the thoughts here, to see what the response will be.


    April 17, 2008
  14. kiffi summa said:

    David HV will certainly do a great service in ensuring that a lot of issue oriented dialogue will occur. And that is really needed at this time. But will also be needed, is others joining in with significant dialogue, in order to get the full value of David’s initiative.
    Thanks, David, for jumping in.

    April 17, 2008
  15. Scott Oney said:

    David L. (#12): I had wondered about that too; a newly elected mayor defending a former police chief could certainly trump last summer’s shenanigans.

    On a related note, I had assumed, just based on some personal observations, that someone connected with Hvistendahl’s office was acting on behalf of one of the three remaining candidates for police chief. I called there this morning to ask, and talked to Hv.’s legal assistant, who not surprisingly said she couldn’t give out that type of information, so I don’t know; I could be wrong. Ordinarily, it would be nobody’s business, but since Hv. has jumped into the political fray, it may be of some interest. Can anyone enlighten us?

    April 17, 2008
  16. And let’s also draft Tracy and Lance to run as Co-Mayors (and mayoral counsel) and it’ll get really legally-ethically fun!

    April 17, 2008
  17. Tracy Davis said:

    Nice idea, Carol, thank you. NOT! 🙂

    April 17, 2008
  18. Linda Willgohs said:

    It strikes me that there is another sticky part of David Hv’s detailed platform. He plans to move the Key to the current liquor store building. I’m sure the Key could really use the extra space, but if memory serves, Froggy Bottoms’s back patio ran into limitations a few years back due to the proximity of the under-legal-age neighbors at the Key. At the time, Froggy Bottoms was desperately seeking a new home for the Key. Would this be the next chapter in the conflict of interest saga with the liquor store?!
    I’d like to see the City develop a workable means to dealing with conflicts of interest so that our field of mayoral candidates is determined not by who is the least conflicted but who is the most capable and visionary person to lead our city.

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


    I was thinking the same thing, but didn’t know how to approach it. Now that someone has pointed a finger at the 800 pound tie dye elephant…

    I also see moving the skate park as removing a negative, and redoing the dam to be more river friendly as a positive to his business.

    However, I do agree with many of his points.

    You could probably find a perceived conflict with any business owner that would want to run for mayor. Some are just a lot more obvious, while some are just blatant.

    If the Key vacates to a better opportunity, and the space is available, and the Hv family has the funds in this poor market to keep the space from sitting idle, is it really a bad thing? Maybe Hv would want to offer to purchase Basil’s as well, and turn the whole thing into a wonderful riverside development that would benefit downtown, and be a draw. As long as it is done legally, and he dots the i’s and crosses the t’s, and uses a good lawyer as his proxy…

    I don’t know. I have to ponder this a bit more. What I do know is that David is very strong willed, and very focused. He strikes me as a “get it done” kind of guy, so I anxiously wait to see how this all plays out.

    There has been so much inaction. I am chomping at the bit to see some forward movement, and something get done by the City leadership.

    April 17, 2008
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Linda, you’re right, there’s been contention between David Hv and the Union of Youth/The Key. I blogged this on N.org back in June of 2005:

    Hvistendahl to sue City of Northfield, Union of Youth

    I don’t remember if the lawsuit actually got filed or what happened.

    And I don’t know if the relationship between them has improved since then so hopefully others will chime in.

    April 18, 2008
  21. Scott Oney said:

    OK, Griff (#21), I’ll take the bait on this one. I talked to a few people that summer who were involved in the dispute, including Dave Hv. and Maren Swanson, the city attorney. I probably still have my notes, although it may take me a week to find them, but I can remember quite a few details. A letter written by Hv. outlining his beef with the Key kids was posted online at the time; do you by any chance have a link to it?

    To understand the issue, it’s important to realize that the Key occupies two adjacent buildings. They own the northern one, or at least they did, the former Rock Shop that they got from Marv Dees. The southern building has been owned by the city for at least 20 years; before that it housed a TV repair shop, as I recall. The city never used it for much except storage until they started renting it to the Key.

    When Hv. was starting up Froggy Bottoms, he had a vision for the city-owned portion of the Key that didn’t include the kids. His idea was for the city to tear the building down and put in a “pedestrian walkway,” except that instead of pedestrians walking, the city was supposed to let him put tables and chairs out there for his customers’ use. I guess you could argue it either way what’s better for Northfield–a youth center for our kids or a place where grown-ups can come down from The Cities and get sloshed on the sidewalk–but the city already had a commitment to the Key.

    This was the context in which the threatened lawsuit developed. There really wasn’t much there, on close examination, but Hv. was loudly and publicly proclaiming that “Key kids” were vandalizing his property. One of the more fantastic stories involved an attempt to tunnel through what he referred to as his “historic wall” (because it was really old, I guess) to steal alcohol. I’m pretty sure the Northfield News ran at least one photo of the supposed damage. Other people familiar with the alleged wall thought that the “damage” might have been the result of some work an electrical contractor was doing on the building.

    The lawsuit against the city, which I don’t think ever went anywhere, was based on the idea that landlords are responsible for the bad behavior of their tenants (they aren’t), and that the city’s tenants, the Key kids, were behaving badly. But there really wasn’t anything to support the claim.

    That’s when the plot really thickened. Maren Swanson, instead of getting ready for a vigorous defense, seemed to be ready to give in on everything. Actually, I remember suggesting to her at one point that it might be a good idea to have someone else check her work.

    I think the idea was to get the Key to move out with the promise that perhaps eventually they might be allowed to use some city-owned space for a while, perhaps the current liquor store or, more likely, a room at the NCRC. I’m glad for their sake that they were able to hang on to the space they already have.

    April 18, 2008
  22. David Ludescher said:

    Because Hvisty has twice sued the City on his client’s behalf, and because his client (or former client) has a pending civil and/or criminal matter pending with the City Administrator, I am of the opinion that Hvisty is going to have to get a waiver of the attorney/client privilege from his clients, and a consent from the present City Council before he could assume office.

    That was part of Lansing’s problem. You can’t be mayor and have a pending or previous action against the entity that you are representing (as Mayor). You can recuse yourself from a conflict of interest, but you can’t recuse yourself from an actual conflict.

    April 19, 2008
  23. Bruce Morlan said:

    Dave, you said

    We do not have an orderly annexation agreement with Waterford Township, so we should annex the township to give us industrial and commercial sites on Highway 3, Dakota Co. 47, and Highway 19.

    Whoa! So, with no agreement they become just open land? That’s the sort of thinking that made Crazy Horse crazy. Townships are fed up with urban planners thinking that just because land is open and not crammed with shopping malls, industry and houses, it must be of no value and therefore just needs the loving ministrations of the city to make it valuable again. Dundas and Bridgewater have led the way in local cooperative ventures, with both showing great respect for each other’s goals and visions as they forge a new way of doing business. I certainly hope the next mayor of Northfield is a little more sensitive to the needs of the city than this sentiment expresses. That sensitivity surely must include having a healthy ring of townships that retain their rural character so the city can continue to be contented.

    April 19, 2008
  24. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Speaking of annexation, the Northfield Planning Commission will hear public comment Tuesday, April 29, 7 pm (see Saturday public notices) on a landowner request to annex 530 acres to the City from Greenvale Township west of the hospital and north of North Avenue. It is for business park/light industry.

    Without a current annexation agreement, I had thought a city could take up to 60 acres at a time, ad infinitum. But not a big chunk like this in one bite. I dare say some neighboring farmers must be sick about it.

    April 20, 2008
  25. kiffi summa said:

    Norman Butler: Your whole “clean slate” idea just went totally away!
    maybe you need to talk to Dave HV about this.

    You indefatiguable Brit! Is this why you lost the War with America in 1776?
    You should have been on OUR (the Colonies) side; your ideas are just TOO revolutionary!

    April 21, 2008
  26. They/we (dual citizen, you know) did not lose anything. The US’s Independence Day is UK’s Thanksgiving Day, just so you know.
    As for the clean slate, I was merely transmitting and of course endorsing the oft-stated word on the street. As you note, Kiffi, it has gone down like a lead balloon as a topic for discussion in particular the mechanism, the how, of such an initiative.

    I personally and politically if somewhat futuristically (ie after I’m dead), others would say naively, like the idea of a merger of Northfield, Greenvale, Bridgewater, Dundas into one governmental unit with all of what Bruce Morlan says must be taken into account. There is much merit in discussing this idea at this early stage. I emphasise ‘merger’ rather than ‘annexation’ which smacks too much of ‘rough wooing’ as compared to a mutual seduction resulting in a marriage of great convenience for all parties.

    April 22, 2008
  27. kiffi summa said:

    Oh, Norm … admit it now, those redcoats lost King George’s overseas hunting preserve to a bunch of ragtag revolutionaries who were ready to do the 18th Century version of “Speak Truth to Power”!

    But over on another thread ( who should run, etc) your idea is getting some play …drift, or overlap?

    April 22, 2008

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