New leadership changes cause ripple effects throughout local, state municipalities

Heading into Election night Champlin and Dayton faced potential for significant changeover in the complexion of their respective city councils. With both city’s mayors choosing not to run for re-election – Dayton’s Mayor Doug Anderson is retiring and Champlin’s Mayor Mark Uglem made a successful bid for the state house – new head leadership was inevitable. What resulted is a combination of musical chairs and welcoming some fresh new faces to the table.

With both of their ward seats open for election this year and Uglem declaring his intentions to run for the state house seat, current Champlin council members Greg Payer (Ward 3) and ArMand Nelson (Ward 4) challenged each other to the mayoral seat. Newcomer Ryan Sabas also threw his hat in the ring. Adding to that, newly appointed Ryan Karasak — who is filling the Ward 1 seat left vacant by Julia Whalen’s departure in September due to a move to Dayton — and there was potential for a 4-person council changeover within one election cycle.

As it turned out, voters weren’t ready to let ArMand Nelson go just yet. He won the mayoral seat with 4,285 votes or 36.4 percent of the votes. Remaining council members Ryan Karasek and Eric Johnson, who are serving terms through 2014, will be joined by newcomers Bruce Miller representing Ward 3 and Kara Terry representing Ward 4 come January. Terry’s election to the board brings back a female perspective that was lost in the couple months Whalen has been gone.

Meanwhile, outgoing Mayor Mark Uglem will swap his title for that of Minnesota House Representative in District 36A representing Champlin and parts of Coon Rapids, flipping the seat from DFL to Republican. Outgoing Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL) did not seek re-election.

In the state senate chamber, Dist. 36 went from blue to red as DFLer John Hoffman ousted one-term incumbent Sen. Benjamin Kruse (R). Hoffman secured a win with 10,691 votes or 51 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, as a current Anoka-Hennepin School Board member, Hoffman will vacate his seat to take office in the Minnesota Senate in January. This vacancy, with a term that runs through 2014, is expected to be appointed by the school board. While the board itself didn’t have any open seats this election cycle, this will be the second appointment due to a vacancy on the board in less than a year. Jeff Simon was appointed to represent District 6 to finish out the remainder of Kathy Tingelstad’s term after she resigned in protest in March 2012.

Over in Dayton, Mayor Anders on announced his plans to retire after this term. Council member Tim McNeil announced his candidacy for mayor and soon learned he would face Anne Ziebell for an opponent. While McNeil is currently serving in his sixth year on the council, Ziebell is no stranger to the council chambers. She served a term on the council from 1997-2000. With McNeil’s successful election as mayor, his current council seat will become vacant in January. The new council will discuss filling the vacancy at their first meeting in January 2013. The process will likely include an application/interview process before appointing a replacement.