Herald Journal, Nov. 8, 2004
Comments from election winners
By Jane Otto
In the six local mayoral races, voters ousted the incumbent in one race and barely elected the incumbent in another.
Voters in Montrose, New Germany, Lester Prairie, and Waverly elected their incumbent mayors, while 57 percent of Howard Lake voters chose Terry Ostgulen to replace longtime mayor Gerry Smith.
Winsted voters, too, re-elected their mayor, but official results had only nine votes separating incumbent Don Guggemos and challenger Steve Stotko.
Seeking a fourth term as mayor, Smith admitted surprise at Tuesday’s election results.
“I’m totally shocked, but if this is what the voters want, that’s OK,” he said. “I’ve always supported everything they’ve said.”
Ostgulen won the seat by 140 votes on a 577 to 437 count.
As for the mayor-elect, Smith said Ostgulen has shown, as a council member, he can do the job. “I think he’ll do a good job, but there will always be a difference of opinion, at times,” he said. “I will support him because he’s our mayor.”
Ostgulen, who will give up his council seat to be mayor, said the election results surprised him. “I guess you’re always surprised,” he said. “You just never know.”
As a new councilor two years ago, Ostgulen said it startled him to see the city’s comprehensive plan had a “blank page” for capital improvements.
Within the next two years, he wants to have a “clear plan in place,” Ostgulen said. “People have to see where things are going.”
The city’s council will have a new face in Jan Gilmer. Gilmer was one of three candidates vying for two seats.
With 583 votes, Gilmer was the second top vote-getter, ousting incumbent Rick Lammers.
Lammers was appointed in February to fill the vacant seat left by Don Danford, who resigned for health reasons. Lammers had 420 votes.
Incumbent Tom Kutz, who’s held a council seat for 10 years, received the most votes with 695.
Come Wednesday morning, Winsted voters might have been as unsure about who their president would be for the next four years as they were about who their mayor would be for the next two.
By noon Wednesday, Sen. John Kerry had conceded the race to President George Bush, while Stotko decided against having Winsted’s votes recounted.
Losing the mayoral bid by a mere nine votes, Stoko said, “I didn’t think it would be as close as it was. I feel pretty good about it.”
State law requires a recount if the vote difference is less than one half of 1 percent of the total vote. In this case, that would be five votes.
Nevertheless, City Clerk Deb Boelter asked Stotko if he wanted a recount, but he declined.
“I trust what these guys are doing,” he said. “If that’s what it is, that’s what it is.”
In hindsight, Stoko said he might have handled his campaign differently if he knew the race would be so tight. “But, to look back is not a good thing,” he added.
Stoko isn’t bitter about the loss. “I wasn’t running against Guggemos,” he said. “I was running for the job. . . . It was a good experience. At this point, I’d run again.”
Of the 13 times Guggemos ran for mayor, he couldn’t ever recall a race that close.
“I think we were both surprised,” he said. “Even when there are three people for two council seats, there’s usually more than a nine-vote spread.”
Guggemos has served as Winsted’s mayor from 1974 to 1980, 1985 until 1990, from 1993 to 1998 and from 2000 until now.
In this third consecutive term, Guggemos wants to expand the city’s sewer and water capacity; two projects that will “take the city 20 years out,” and be paid with sewer and water revenues, he said.
Moving ahead with what the Minnesota Design Team’s visit began is also key to Guggemos’s next term, whether it be working on a community center or doing something to get young people involved in government.
The town’s council will remain intact, as voters re-elected incumbents Tom Ollig and Bonnie Quast, both of whom ran unopposed.
Ollig garnered 902 votes, while Quast got 790. Voters also cast 51 write-in votes.
Incumbent mayor Eric Angvall ran unchallenged garnering 590 of the 683 votes cast for mayor.
The other 93 were write-in votes. Of those votes, Jerry Pawelk got 16, Stan Ehrke 10, Ron Foust 8, Arthur Mallak 6, and Joe Miller 5. The remaining votes were dispersed among 28 other people.
Angvall expressed some disappointment at having no challenger, but said, “In one sense, the number of votes may indicate they are content with the way the city is moving or attempting to move.”
The city also had difficulty attracting candidates for council. Art Mallak was the lone candidate for two open council seats.
Mallak captured 48 percent of the vote with 478 votes. Foust was second with 261 write-in votes and Michele Anderson had 221 write-in votes. Voters cast a total of 526 write-ins.
Currently council members, Foust and Anderson decided not to seek re-election. Foust, however, said earlier he would accept the seat if voters wanted him, which they did.
After running unopposed the past election, Charlie Nelson staved off two challengers Tuesday.
Nelson took 450 votes to Albert Zakariasen’s 320 and Alex Roeser’s 270.
Nelson, who will serve a fourth consecutive term, said “I knocked on 1,060 doors. It meant that much to me.”
While in office, Nelson has watched his town grow from a little more than 300 homes to almost 1,100 homes, he said.
Nelson will begin his fourth term this January as Montrose’s mayor.
A capital improvement plan and an orderly annexation agreement with Woodland and Marysville townships are among those things that will help the city look 20 years ahead, he said.
Roeser and Zakariasen were unable to be reached for comment.
Montrose also had five people file for two council seats. Cindy Beaton was the top vote-getter with 472 votes, followed by incumbent Jeff Petersen with 392 votes.
Keith Roseen was a close third with 369 votes.
Jeff Trout had 333 votes, while incumbent David Nordschow lost his re-election bid with 271 votes.
When incumbent Franklin Schoenke filed for office, he told his constituents, “If you want me to be your mayor, I’ll be glad to do so.”
A majority of 112 residents wanted Schoenke to serve a second term. “I’m pleased and am looking forward to moving forward with the city’s plan,” he said.
Schoenke sees his strengths as running organized meetings and relying on the experts for such issues as water and sewer.
Capturing 64 votes, Schoenke’s challenger, Paul Engelhart, was disappointed, but plans to keep a watchful eye on his city. “Somebody needs to watch the council,” he said. “It’s just that simple.”
Engelhart, who served as mayor from 1995 to 2000, said the city needs to prepare better for growth.
Three candidates sought two open council seats. Getting 121 votes, Shirley Jaeger will serve another term. Thomas Mathisen, who had 114 votes, will serve along side Jaeger.
Susan Iverson-Latzke got 66 votes.
About to serve Waverly for a fifth consecutive term, Charlie Bush said he’s not interested in becoming a “career politician.”
“As long as it’s interesting and it’s fun and as long as I can make a difference, I’ll do it,” Bush said.
Facing 50 to 60 new homes a year, Bush said the city is ready for growth. “Working together with Montrose on a sewer extension was an excellent idea,” he said.
The town also has a new water tower, which will be paid for by new residents’ water access fees.
Losing by a narrow margin of 50 votes, Bush’s challenger, Ken Hausladen, said, “It was disappointing, but thanks to the people who voted for me and thank you to the people who voted period.”
With a four-year degree in public administration and a current council member, Hausladen will likely stay involved in community service, either via the park board or the planning and zoning commission.
The Hausladen family will still have a politician as Hausladen’s wife, Deb, was elected to one of two council seats. She had 213 votes.
With 291 votes, incumbent Gary Olson will serve another term. Rick Ragan came in third with 181 votes.