Crowded City Council races in St. Anthony and Lino Lakes brought a mix of old faces and new to Tuesday ballots in the north metro, with several political newcomers battling incumbents in closely watched contests.
Six St. Anthony candidates vied for two City Council seats in a race guided by thorny debates over policing, affordable housing and racial equity. Incumbents Randy Stille and Jan Jenson appeared to stave off opponents to hold onto their positions.
The suburb has weathered widespread scrutiny after the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer in July 2016. The June closure of the city’s only mobile home park has also fueled grass roots activism, spurring rallies and calls for resignations at City Hall.
The four challengers seeking to unseat Stille and Jenson said St. Anthony needs new leadership, while Stille and Jenson have stood behind the city’s response to recent events, touting various equity and policing initiatives the city has undertaken.
A third council seat on the five-member council will also be filled in the coming months, following the August resignation of Bonnie Brever.
Voters threw support behind familiar candidates in Lino Lakes, with incumbents and a former City Council member snagging each of the three positions up for grabs.
Six candidates squared off for two City Council spots, while Mayor Jeff Reinert ran unopposed and sailed into his fifth term.
Incumbent Rob Rafferty will keep his position, but voters kicked off incumbent Bill Kusterman. In Kusterman’s place will be Dale Stoesz, who was previously on the council from 2012 to 2015.
The contest brought to the fore debates about road upkeep as well as the future of the city’s 46-year-old public works facility, with opinions divided over whether to spruce up the existing structure or build anew.
City Council hopefuls also raised concerns over maintaining the suburb’s prized trails and parks, calling the green space a key facet of the city’s rustic charm.
Still, the relatively quiet race offered a stark contrast to the heated local election two years ago, when rancor ran deep over the city’s controversial decision to exit the three-city Centennial Fire District and form its own.