Kuehn, Thorsen separated by less than 1 percent in mayoral contest

The choice between old and new approaches to the city mayorship apparently split North St. Paulites right down the middle.

Longtime council member and incumbent mayor since the death of the legendary Bill Sandberg, Mike Kuehn hung on to the mayor post with a fraction of a percent.

Council member Scott Thorsen, still in his first term on the council, challenged Kuehn and lost, but will return to his council seat with known backing from the community.

Kuehn garnered 1,934 votes (50.81 percent) in the race; Thorsen got 1,852 (48.66 percent).

That leaves a .53 percent difference between the two in unofficial Secretary of State results.

Council voting clear

Faced with challenges ranging from balancing its budget to a recent spate of burglaries, North St. Paul decided to stick with the tried-and-true for its City Council. Incumbents Terry Furlong and Candy Petersen will return to council service; former council member Dave Zick and challenger Bob Zick lost their bids for the seats.

The unofficial vote totals and percentages:

  • Terry Furlong: 2,871 or 44 percent
  • Candy Petersen: 2,080 or 32 percent
  • Dave Zick: 878 or 13.4 percent
  • Bob Zick: 678 or 10.4 percent

Terry Furlong, 52, has been a City Council member for six years. He's co-owner of longtime business Furlong Liquors in Oakdale and is also involved in Scouting, the Church of St. Peter and serves on the Parks and Recreation commission.

Furlong pointed to an improved bond rating during his tenure, as well as new initiatives such as a long-term strategic plan and the funding to launch a capital improvement program.

The latter will be a challenge, though, he warns. "North St. Paul is an aging community (and) with that comes a lot of challenges with the infrastructure, downtown and being competitive with other cities. The city is now starting to show improvements with policies that have been in place since (my) being on the council.

"We still have a long ways to go," Furlong adds. "But I feel the city is going in the right direction."

Petersen, 60, has been a council member for four years. She is a special education assistant at Tartan High School and is currently on the boards of the Ramsey League of Cities, Metro Cities, Minnesota Women in City Government and is currently on the Suburban Cable Commission. In addition, she volunteers with with Silver Lake Splash, CERT training programs, as a Minnesota naturalist, and is active in the North St. Paul Historical Society.

Dave Zick, 74, is retired from a long career with the North St. Paul Fire Department, during which he was a firefighter, EMT, captain, assistant chief and retired as chief in 2001. He served previously on the city council, from 2004-10, and said he ran again due to concern about what he described as behind-the-scenes council conversations about possibly consolidating or outsourcing city departments and services, which he says makes employees distrust the city's leaders and leave for other jobs.

Bob Zick, 68, has now added North St. Paul to a list of other offices he's run for, from state posts to the school board and Maplewood city council. He is retired as a master electrician with  St. Paul Schools. He argues that North St. Paul is becoming a "drive-by" city and needs to reclaim its identity, in part by being more business-friendly. He also argued for more transparent government. 

Holly Wenzel can be reached at review@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter @lilliereview.

Turnout at 50 percent, down from 60 in '06 midterm

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced a preliminary and unofficial turnout for the November 4 General Election of just over 50 percent, based on an estimated 1,985,747 participating voters out of 3,945,136 that are eligible.

The number of voters and the turnout rate will slightly increase as counties submit their final voter statistics. Final turnout and election results will be announced after the State Canvassing Board certifies election results on November 25.

In 2010, a similar midterm election, Minnesota’s turnout was 55.81 percent and in 2006, turnout was 60.47 percent.


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