Risk and Reward: Champlin mayor goes ‘all in’ seeking higher office

In a sea-change of losses for Republicans, Uglem emerges as a winner

When Election night arrived, Mark Uglem settled in at Sammy Perrella’s Pizza in Brooklyn Park with family, friends and some of the other Republican candidates on the ballot. It was to be a night of victory celebrations all around.


Uglem knew his days as Champlin’s mayor were numbered but he held onto the promise of serving the community on a larger scale.

This year was the year Uglem decided to forgo a fourth bid at his mayoral seat in Champlin and go after the state house seat, which had belonged to DFL’er Rep. Denise Dittrich since 2004. But she announced her intentions to retire earlier this year. So Uglem threw his hat in the ring for the house seat that that represents Champlin and parts of Coon Rapids.

“I only ran for the seat because Denise announced she planned to retire,” said Uglem.

As it turned out, Uglem was one of the few Republicans with something to celebrate that night as many found their campaigns ending in defeat such as that of state Senator Benjamin Kruse, who was unseated by John Hoffman (DFL), an Anoka-Hennepin School Board member.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars were put into some of these campaigns,” said Uglem. However, Uglem does not contribute his success to dollars invested in his campaign, instead claming he had been outspent 3 to 1.

“It was very competitive. I am very happy to win. I did about how I expected to do in Coon Rapids,” said Uglem, who will finish out his third term as mayor of Champlin this year. “But it was my friendships and contacts in Champlin that put me over the top for the win.”

Uglem (R) was one of the few Republicans winning a seat currently held by a Democrat in an election that returned control of both the state house and senate back to Democrats.

He is already looking ahead as he prepares to step into his first term in the state House.

“I will be working in a bipartisan manner,” said Uglem. “We are going to have to now, as a minority party. I’ve already been on the phone with Denise [Dittrich] getting some coaching.”