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Two additional thoughts

Two other thoughts as we head into the holidays:

  • One more note on the idea of a pay freeze for city employees.  If retention of employees is a concern (and the Council is certainly correct to be concerned), then the time to take an action like a pay freeze is when everyone else is doing it.  By waiting now until 2012 (or beyond) to take any action, the City risks being something of an outlier compared to the private sector and other governmental bodies, who have been making these moves in 2009/2010/2011 and have already taken those savings.  Additionally, making such a move earlier allows you to get savings across the entire five-year planning period.
  • A good discussion has broken out at the Chaska Herald site regarding the Athletic Park proposals.  I think what proposals like this and the Downtown Master Plan point to is the need for Chaska to have a published Economic and/or Community Development Strategy.  Here’s a link to such a strategy for the city of Tracy, California.  This is the sort of document that the city needs to create and make available.  It clearly delineates a handful of key goals, one to three strategies for achieving those goals, specific actions the city will take, and how the city will measure progress.  Master Plans and Concept Plans get us part of the way, but what we really need are specific actions and measures to make clear exactly what the priorities are and to hold public officials (elected and city staff) accountable for making progress.

I hope everyone has a very Happy Holiday season!

Recount confirms Ische as winner

Not surprisingly, Jim Ische’s 761-vote lead in the race for Carver County Commissioner in District 5 held up in the recount requested by challenger Bruce Schwichtenberg.  Schwichtenberg will be responsible for the expenses of the recount.

School Board Recount: Klein still wins

The school board recount for Eastern Carver County Schools validated that Tim Klein won the fourth and final spot on the School Board. 

Recount results showed Klein receiving 4,471 votes to 4,310 votes for Bryan Litsey.  The 161-vote gap decreased slightly from the Election Night difference of 164 votes.

Fiscal responsibility?

Bruce Schwichtenberg, who lost the Carver County Commissioner race in District 5 by 13 percent (761 votes), has requested a recount of the race.  Because the race falls outside the margin required to automatically trigger a recount, Schwichtenberg will be paying the expenses himself. 

Seems like a real waste of money.  And to think it was Schwichtenberg who campaigned against what he deemed wasteful spending by Ische and the rest of the Commissioners…

Election Recap

I know it’s nearly a week late, but some family medical issues have kept me from posting over recent days. 

Let’s review the results of the election:

State Senate District 34:  Julianne Ortman (63.5%) defeats Laura Helmer (30.3%) and Tim Biros (6.2%)

State House District 34A:  Ernie Leidiger (65.1%) defeats Leanne Pouliot Kunze (34.9%)

The DFL candidates were facing a stiff tide.  Helmer and Kunze ran probably the best races the DFL has put up in this area in a while, but achieved similar results to previous cycles.

Chaska Mayor:  Mark Windschitl (96.0%) unopposed

Hopefully, we’ll have a race in 2012.  Contested elections are a good thing.

Chaska City Council Ward 1:  Scott Millard (57.9%) defeats Gino Businaro (41.6%)

For the first time since 2002, a Chaska City Council incumbent goes down to defeat.  Interesting that Businaro is the one to pay for the Council’s perceived unwillingness to listen to the people, as Businaro has been the closest thing to a “voice of dissent” on the current Council.   It will be interesting to see what Millard brings to the Council, as his candidate forum appearance gave little insight.

Chaska City Council Ward 3:  Chris Schulz (71.7%) defeats Charles Stech (27.9%)

Stech seemed to have ideas, but for some reason got very little traction in his campaign.  Schulz has grown quite a bit in the last year.  He was confident and in command at the candidate forum.  It will be interesting to see if that command carries over the council meetings over the next term.

Carver County Commissioner District 3:  Randy Maluchnik (52.7%) defeats Jay Swenson (47.1%)

A close race that came down to the last precinct.    Strong performance by Swenson in Victoria was not enough to overcome Maluchnik’s advantages in the Chaska portion of the district.

34A House race named “one to watch”

MN Progressive Project has named the State House District 34A race as “one to watch” tonight.

Where to vote in Chaska

Chaska residents:  Here’s where you vote tomorrow, by Ward/Precinct:

Ward 1 Precinct 1
Chaska City Hall
One City Hall Plaza

Ward 1 Precinct 2
Chaska Water Treatment Plant
640 Victoria Drive

Ward 2 Precinct 1
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
112090 Hundertmark Road

Ward 2 Precinct 2
Clover Field Condominium Building
114200 Hundertmark Road

Ward 3
New Life Assembly of God Church
950 Trumble Street

Ward 4
Chaska Community Center
1661 Park Ridge Drive

If you don’t know what Ward and Precinct you are in, use one of the tools below:

City of Chaska Ward Map

Minnesota Secretary of State Poll Finder

Brick City Blog Endorsements

State House District 34A:  Leanne Pouliot Kunze

Frequent readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of Leanne’s.  The two posts linked below give you key reasons to understand why I am so enthusiastic about her campaign for the State House.

I’m Voting for Leanne Pouliot Kunze

Do You Know Leanne Pouliot Kunze?

State Senate District 34:  Laura Helmer

Laura Helmer would be a terrific addition to the State Senate.  A moderate, pro-business Democrat, Helmer intends to start a bi-partisan small business caucus in the Senate — putting actions to her words.  The election of Helmer (and Kunze) would give this area responsible, solutions-focused representation in the Legisalture — a welcome change from the partisan games we’ve seen from Julianne Ortman.

Carver County Commissioner District 3:  Randy Maluchnik

There are certainly some valid critiques one could make of the current incumbents on the Carver County Board.  The septic system situation at the Waconia Ballroom has certainly been handled poorly.  Depending on which property tax metrics you use, you could make the argument that Carver County is somewhat overtaxed.

That said, Jay Swenson (and the challengers in the other districts) have been light on specific changes they would make.  It’s easy to point out things that may have gone wrong in the past, but it’s far more difficult to indicate specifically how you would accomplish what you say you’re going to do.

Randy Maluchnik has been a solid Commissioner.  He has good relations across the County.  He (and the rest of the board) have seemed to get the message on keeping a closer eye on the tax levy, as the county has reduced the levy for 2011.  Importantly, Maluchnik has also rejected the call to make the board a partisan body.  We don’t need partisan politics infecting our county and local affairs.  He deserves re-election.

Chaska City Council:  No Endorsements

As I don’t live in Ward 1 or Ward 3, I’m not going to give a formal endorsement.  However, a few thoughts on the races here.  As I noted about a month ago, the challengers in these races have the burden of proof.  There are decisions made and actions taken by this Council that could provide a platform for making such a case.  Based on what I’ve seen, though, the challengers have not made their case (and granted, not living in the Wards in question, I may not be aware of all the campaign activity). 

I’m particularly hopeful that Gino Businaro will push for increased financial discipline on the city’s part should he be re-elected next week.  His “no” vote on the city budget last year was appropriate, and he should not be afraid to vote “no” again.

Money matters revisited

A few months ago, I looked at the campaign finance reports filed by the candidates for State Senate District 34 and State House District 34A.  The last pre-election reports are now in — let’s check out how things have changed.

State Senate District 34:  Incumbent Republican State Senator Julianne Ortman has raised $22,823, while DFL challenger Laura Helmer has raised $16,896.  Ortman received a larger state campaign finance subsidy — $13,603 versus $11,026 for Helmer.  As of October 25, however, the two are essentially equal in cash on hand.  Helmer has a slight advantage here, with $10,883 to Ortman’s $10,663.

State House District 34A:  The battle for this open seat continues to be tightly contested on all fronts.  DFL-endorsed Leanne Pouliot Kunze has raised $12,320, while Republican-endorsed Ernie Leidiger has raised $12,901 (which includes a $3,000 loan from Leidiger to his campaign).  Kunze maintains a signficant cash on hand advantage, with $5,935 versus Leidiger’s $1,306.

In summary, both races continue to be more competitive than in past cycles.  In particular, Kunze is on equal footing in her race, which stands in stark contrast to the 2:1 financial advantage Republicans have traditionally held in the district.

Incumbents comfortably ahead in commisioner races?

I haven’t spent much time talking about the races for Carver County Commissioner.  Clearly, though, there has been an effort (much of it partisan-driven) to replace incumbents Gayle Degler, Randy Maluchnik, and Jim Ische.  Challengers Neil Kennedy, Jay Swenson, and Bruce Schwictenberg have run well-organized campaigns against the incumbents.

The Maluchnik campaign released internal polling last night that shows all three incumbent with 10 point (or more) leads in each of the races.    It’s obviously internal polling, so take it as you will, but I have to admit the magnitude of the leads seems a bit surprising, given the energy of the challengers’ campaigns and the general national mood.  Although I think all three incumbents stand a good chance of winning, I anticipated all three races to be closer.  It will be interesting to see if the results on November 2 track with these polling numbers.

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