Tim Busse, a communications consultant who has served on the City Council for eight years, was elected mayor of Bloomington on Tuesday, handily defeating business executive and political newcomer Ryan Kulka.
Busse, speaking to a crowd of supporters packed into Joe Senser’s sports bar in Bloomington on Tuesday night, said he was “very excited, very honored and very humbled” to be the city’s next leader.
Busse thanked outgoing Mayor Gene Winstead, who held the job for 20 years, for his endorsement. Winstead said that the two of them began planning Busse’s mayoral run four years ago.
As mayor, Busse said he aims to continue Bloomington’s record of creative and innovative endeavors. “We’re going to continue to be bold … showing the Twin Cities how to do things,” he said.
Kulka said Tuesday he was proud of his campaign and felt his supporters represented the desire for a shake-up in the city’s leadership.
Among the top issues in the mayoral race was the proposed $250 million indoor water park beside the Mall of America, a project that Busse supports and Kulka opposes. Kulka objected to the project’s complicated financing plan and called it another example of the city focusing on “need-based” projects. Busse believes the water park offers a way to maintain the draw of the MOA.
Bloomington voters also cast votes for three City Council seats. Jenna Carter won Busse’s at-large seat, and incumbents Dwayne Lowman and Shawn Nelson won the First and Second District seats, respectively.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the removal of a provision in Bloomington’s charter that regulates alcohol sales, a move that will open the door for the first taprooms in the city.
In other metro area races, suburban voters cast ballots for county commissioners in Ramsey and Anoka counties.
Nicole Joy Frethem won a special election for the Ramsey County Board’s First District seat against former Republican legislator Randy Jessup. Frethem, of Shoreview, is a state Department of Human Services supervisor.
One issue in the race was the county’s decision to sue Arden Hills over future development of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site. The county, which owns the land, wants denser development than what city leaders support. Jessup was critical of the decision to sue the city, while Frethem said she hopes to see a compromise.
The seat was opened when Commissioner Blake Huffman resigned amid allegations that his now-defunct charity misused county-allocated affordable housing funds. The winner will hold office through 2020, when a regular election will be held next November.
In Anoka County, Lino Lakes Mayor Jeff Reinert and former Spring Lake Park Mayor Cindy Hansen were the top two vote-getters, respectively, in a special primary election for the County Board’s vacant Sixth District seat. Reinert and Hansen will square off in a special election on Feb. 11.
The seat opened in May when Rhonda Sivarajah resigned after eight years as board chairwoman. Sivarajah, a former Republican congressional candidate who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, stepped down after the board named her county administrator.
Ranked-choice voting was used for the first time Tuesday in St. Louis Park, where Mayor Jake Spano retained his seat by a significant margin over legal mediator Yvette Baudelaire.
Larry Kraft and Deb Brinkman led in the race for the City Council’s at-large Seat A, while Nadia Mohamed led Joseph Israel in the Seat B contest.
Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris was re-elected, defeating challenger Steve Schmidgall. Also elected was Hopkins Mayor Jason Gadd, who was appointed to the position in March after former Mayor Molly Cummings resigned to take a seat on the Metropolitan Council.
Staff writers Erin Adler, Kim Hyatt and Shannon Prather contributed to this report.