Lilydale: Tiny town with devoted, unopposed candidates

In the small political pond of Lilydale, three unopposed incumbents are again running to represent the town of about 700 people in the Nov. 4 general election.

As relative shoo-ins, Mayor Anita Pampusch and Lilydale City Council members Robert Bullard and John Diehl are focused on stabilizing the two bluffs upon which the city rests, Lilydale's share of a major road project on state Highway 13 and uniting their constituents, most of whom live in townhomes, apartments and condominiums.

Anita Pampusch

Anita Pampusch

Anita Pampusch

Pampusch, 76, is finishing her second term as mayor. She is married to Frank J. Indihar, M.D., and is retired after spending much of her life in higher education as a professor, dean and president of St. Catherine University. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

The role of mayor consists of essentially, she says, keeping the infrastructure of the city strong. As the city's in the midst of some major infrastructure projects, Pampusch says she's running again to see those efforts through.

"I wanted to be here to see (them) take place," she says.

In her first term, Pampusch started Lilydaze in order to bring together the community, including the residents and business owners. The city hosted the fourth year of the festival Sept. 20.

Pampusch says she still has some uniting to do.

"I still have to work on the business side of it, because the businesses are owned by people who don't live in Lilydale," she says.

Pampusch's predecessor Tom Swain helped the city overcome a deficit, and the mayor and the council are working to keep the budget balanced.

Major road construction projects, including making improvements to water management on Hwy. 13, are coming up — projects the city is now able to fund without assessing residents, Pampusch says. She says she and the council also hope to find ways to stabilize the eroding bluffs Lilydale is built on in the next couple of years.

"We have sorted out our finances and we've been able to establish separate fund accounts so we can take care of the issues that come along," she says. 

Robert Bullard

Bullard, 81, was initially appointed to fill a vacancy on the council about 13 years ago, and has been on the council ever since. He is married to Gerry (Geraldine), and is a retired lawyer. He earned a juris doctorate at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

Bullard says his skill set is needed on the five-person council.

Along with being one of two on the city's finance committee, he chairs the Lower Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, a consortium comprised of seven area cities that is responsible for the quantity, quality and safe discharge of water into the Mississippi River.

Bullard was involved in the construction of City Hall. In the early 2000s, the council had the choice of paying a higher rate to rent space or spend a little more each month to build a new building. The city's new structure is now nearly paid off.

"It was something that I was involved with that is very gratifying for me and it will save the citizens of Lilydale a lot of money in the long run," Bullard says.

Bullard says he's looking forward to Hwy. 13's repair. In addition to the curbs and gutters that are going to be added to the road, the city's going to be improving stormwater discharge vehicles, such as drains that will run through the bluff. 

"It's in a very sad state of disrepair," he says. "In the wintertime, it's downright dangerous because we have water there that freezes. We're hoping to eliminate the puddling by using this expanse of storm sewers."

Although the council is looking at a small increase in its budget this year, Bullard says the levy hasn't been increased in five years.

"We have a very small budget," he says. "We watch our pennies and we try to give our constituents a bang for their buck."

The Lilydale council doesn't have quite as much on their hands as neighboring larger cities. As Bullard put it, Lilydale is a city of mostly older folks, multi-family dwelling units, apart from a handful of houses, and only 500 feet of Victoria Street to maintain on its own.

He adds, there are "good people to work with, good people on the council and good staff. What more can you ask?"

John Diehl

John Diehl

John Diehl

Diehl, 72, has been on the council for one term of four years. He is married to Karyn Diehl, and is an attorney at Larkin Hoffman, a Bloomington law firm.

Diehl says he's running for reelection because he believes that "everyone ought to participate in civic activities, one way or another."

"When I moved to Lilydale (in 2007), I was asked to serve as the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission," he says. "I was asked, so I did it."

When there was an opening on the council, he was asked if he'd be interested in running for the seat, and he did.

Like his colleagues, Diehl says he doesn't take individual credit for what has been accomplished in the last few years, but he's "proud of everything we've done."

With mostly multi-family dwellings, such as apartments, Diehl points out that parts of the town are run by homeowners associations.

"A lot of people are involved in running their own piece of Lilydale," he says. "The council provides the backdrop for that.

"That spirit of community has been sort of a tradition of Lilydale through a variety of circumstances."

The people living in Lilydale are a "homogeneous bunch," Diehl says.

"We all have very similar interests." One of those interests is helping develop schools throughout the metro area through sponsoring public financing, he says, adding the city often has a role in supporting neighboring cities.

"That's kind of what Lilydale does," Diehl says. "We're not looking for a lot of dramatic change. ... There's a lot of hope, but no change."

The general election will be held Nov. 4. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find polling places and election information at For more information, contact the county election official at 651-438-4305 or

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and Follow her at


Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here