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City elections tight in New Brighton, uncontested in St. Anthony
To say New Brighton's hard-fought race for city council was close would be an understatement. All five council candidates vying for two open spots were within 260 votes of one another.
Incumbent Gina Bauman and newcomer Brian Strub received the most votes and earned spots serving four-year terms to begin in January. Bauman received just 10 more votes than Strub, and longtime city council member and former congresswoman Char Samuelson lost her seat by just 11 votes. State law does not require an automatic recount.
The mayoral race between incumbent Dave Jacobsen and current city council member Mary Burg was also close. Jacobsen edged out Burg with 173 more votes.
Jacobsen will be starting his third term as New Brighton's mayor in January and said he is looking forward to serving as mayor for another two years.
"I really want to thank the voters for the opportunity to use my skills to better our community," he said.
Jacobsen said there is a lot of work to be done and the city will benefit moving forward in a greatly improved financial situation.
"I'm not ready to rest on my laurels," he said. "There is still a lot of work to be done and I'm willing to take it on, because I'm passionate about this community."
Burg said although she is disappointed with the loss, she is happy that she got nearly 48 percent of the vote. She said she would continue to work for the city's residents on the council to "make sure they get the most bang for their buck."
"My focus is and always has been making sure our city is run very efficiently, to make sure we have the best services for the best value," Burg said.
She added that she would work with other councilmembers to ensure the city continues with community development to broaden its tax base.
Burg has two years left in her current term on the council. She said it was too early to tell whether or not she would run for public office at the end of her term.
"It's two years away. It's hard to predict," she said. "But I have a deep commitment to New Brighton and I don't see that changing."
Brian Strub said his approach on the council right away would be to work on economic vitality and livability issues.
"I'd like to see how the city can be a better partner with area business owners to expand and keep jobs here in New Brighton," Strub said.
He said he is excited to get to work for the residents that elected him and is thankful for the opportunity.
"I'm fortunate and very grateful to the residents of New Brighton that entrusted votes in me," Strub said. "There were five really good candidates and I'm humbled and honored."
Samuelson congratulated Strub's hard work during his campaign and said she wishes him the best. She said it is too early to tell if she will run for city council or another elected office in the near future, but she is not ruling it out. In the meantime she said she still has work to do before her term is up, and passing the budget, she said, will take priority.
She plans to stay active in the community and is looking forward to a bit of travel with her husband Jerry.
"I still want to stay involved with the city on a commission or task force. It's important for me to make sure the needs of our citizens are met," Samuelson said.
Bauman was elected to serve a third term on the city council. She said she believes important issues moving forward the council would have to address include continued development in the New Brighton Exchange and property taxes, which she said is a concern for many home and business owners in the city who are struggling to make ends meet.
St. Anthony City Council elections
Two incumbents were reelected in this year's uncontested city council race in St. Anthony Village.
Jan Jensen is nearing the completion of his first term and said he is looking forward to starting his second in January. He said he wants to maintain a good relationship between the city and the school district and wants to continue to work to see that St. Anthony maintains its strong services and continues its collaboration with other cities, looking for ways to share services and control costs.
Randy Stille was also reelected and has been a councilmember in St. Anthony for nearly 10 years. Like Jensen, he believes it's important to continue collaborating with nearby cities like Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Birchwood Village and New Brighton. Stille said he wants to keep serving on the council to see the fruits of the city's labor, which he admitted does not happen overnight.
Joshua Nielsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-748-7824.