Plymouth Council incumbents re-elected
Nearly 85 percent voter turnout, city clerk says
Plymouth City Council will see no changes following the Nov. 6 election. Of the four open seats, two incumbents ran unopposed, and the challengers for the other two seats failed to curate victory against incumbents.
The Ward 1 seat was open, and incumbent Judy Johnson maintained her position on the council. Johnson ran unopposed and was re-elected with 6,603 votes (98.85 percent) from the six precincts in her ward. The remainder of the percentage is accounted for in the 77 write-in votes cast.
Johnson said she believes the council is in a good position and hopes for it to continue on its path.
“The thing that’s most notable about this council is that we don’t always agree with each other, but we can always agree to disagree,” said Johnson. “And that’s something so important and something I think voters want right now.”
The At-Large position, which represents all precincts, was open as well. Incumbent Jim Willis was victorious with 62.07 percent of the vote (18,002 votes). Newcomer Dan Waltenberg lost with 37.24 percent (10,800 votes). The remaining .69 percent was made up of 201 write-in votes.
In cumbent Jeff Wosje will remain in the Ward 2 seat after receiving 5,498 votes (63.42 percent). Challenger Ned Carroll fell short with 3,128 votes (36.08 percent), and 43 write-in votes were counted to round out the percentage.
“In terms of what we saw [on Tuesday], it was an affirmation of the residents and their confidence in the council,” said Wosje. “People seem to be pretty happy with how things are.”
Incumbent Bob Stein also ran unopposed and was re-elected for the Ward 3 seat. Stein won with 6,286 votes (98.37 percent). Write-in votes totaled 104 (1.63 percent).
Stein also expressed confidence in the ability of the council.
“I think we all get along well together,” Stein said. “We may have some differences, but we work together for the common good of the city. And we respect each other.”
While the council will remain unchanged, all council members made it clear that Plymouth continues to face challenges in the tough economic climate.
“The challenges are going to be in the Peony Lane and Vicksburg Lane extensions,” said Wosje. “We have to find out how we’re going to pay for that without negatively impacting the levy and people’s tax burden.”
“I think we need to continue to watch the budget and keep property taxes as low as we can,” Stein said. “And continue to do the work we’ve been doing on our infrastructure with limited funding.”
Plymouth City Clerk Sandy Engdahl said she was pleased with how the polls functioned on election day. She said voter turnout was very good, and that no major hang-ups occurred.
“It went really smooth, we didn’t have any issues here in Plymouth and great voter turnout,” Engdahl said. “We had to hit at least 84 or 85 percent turnout. The polls were busy all the way up to 8 p.m.”
She added that some people had to wait in line to cast their ballot for as much as 20-45 minutes. While the polls closed at 8 p.m., there were a few locations in Plymouth where a line remained. All those who were in line at 8 p.m. were able to vote.
“I think voters were pretty happy. It was a surprise to some voters that they had to wait to cast their ballot,” she said. “On the positive side, I think that’s great. It means a lot of people are coming out to vote. I think we should be proud of that.”
Engdahl attributed the success of election day at the polls to the election judges. She said that Plymouth has one of the best training programs, and that all the judges handled their job with respect.
“We have very good judges in Plymouth,” said Engdahl. “They make very few errors, and they really are the top. I always know it’s going to go well, and I think it even went better than I expected. It was just like clockwork, it was great.”
With the single precinct in Medicine Lake counted, unopposed mayoral candidate and former incumbent council member Gary Holter won with 205 votes (94.47 percent). There were 12 write-in votes cast, accounting for 5.53 percent.
Council member John (Jack) Garberg won re-election with 207 votes, which accounted for 72.89 percent of votes cast. Although Garberg ran unopposed, 77 write-in votes were counted, making up the remaining 27.11 percent.
Garberg said he has had plenty of experience in Medicine Lake.
“I’ve lived here since 1950, and not a whole lot changes here,” Garberg said. “I’ve been on the council before, and I was on the planning commission prior to that, and I’ve also been fire chief and a firefighter.”
Three Rivers Park District, District 1
After all 60 precincts in District 1 reported, newcomer Penny Steele took the race with 52.12 percent of the votes cast (32,470 votes). Incumbent Sara Wyatt lost with 47.20 percent (29,405 votes), and 424 write-in votes were counted.
Steele attributes her victory to her platform.
“[My key to victory was having] a record and a message of fiscal conservatism that recognizes what a wonderful park system we are blessed to have,” Steele said.
Wyatt said she was thankful that she was able to work and serve the park district because natural resources and conservation have always been passions for her.
“I’ve really enjoyed the work that I’ve done at the park district,” said Wyatt. “It really meant the world to me to be able to work with such great people on the board and the staff.”
The race remained close throughout the night, but in the early morning hours Steele pulled ahead.
“I really appreciate all the help I received in this election,” Wyatt said. “That’s the reason I had the good showing that I did.”
Steele said she hopes to work hard to help provide the best park system possible.
“My aspirations are to work for more transparent governance of the park system, greater citizen input and to make sure that the decisions we make today are fiscally sound an sustainable into the future,” Steele said.
Three Rivers Park District 1 covers Plymouth, Wayzata, Long Lake, Medicine Lake, Minnetonka Beach and a portion of Orono.