A Look at the 2022 Election – Overview of Local Seats, Races
While the mid-terms are drawing national attention and statewide scrutiny, it’s local elections that matter in northern Wright County. From local city codes to county laws and school district spending, voters here care about the local issues.
With this article, NWCT Editor Mike Schoemer takes a look around the area at everything from county to school board races, and a few things in between.
Wettschreck Challenged by Charlie Thompson, Former Fire Chief
Two longtime St. Michael men are the race to serve as the city’s mayor.
The incumbent is Keith Wettschreck, who served on the planning commission for a stint and served on city council until 2020, when he ran for St. Michael mayor. His first term has been busy, as growth on the city’s west end, as well as commercial and multi-dwelling housing in the city’s core at City Center, have boomed.
Thompson was a mainstay in local government and a 32-year fire chief in St. Michael (and townships). An Army and Navy veteran, he served in government for 16 years before taking a break. Thompson’s main issues include that growth and development, which he said could be “improved.”
Wettschreck is also a veteran of the Navy and works at Northrop Gurmman.
Facebook Pages layout platforms for both candidates:
Keith Wettschreck for Mayor
Hendrickson Seeks Re-Election, Facing Andy John
After taking a shot at state politics and initially seek the endorsement in a re-districted State Senate GOP primary (she later withdrew and endorsed current GOP candidate Eric Lucero), Jillian Hendrickson is looking to keep her seat as Albertville Mayor.
She’s seen the city have a bit of revival, thanks to some commercial construction on the northeast side (Fehn’s huge expansion off Jason Avenue Northeast included) and housing in the heart of the south edge, with developments across from STMA Middle School West and along County 19 near the new charter school.
Hendrickson’s challenger is Andy John, a husband and father of one. His platform is relatively unknown/not public, but he’s “hoping to get residents” more involved in the city’s planning and growth process.
Schoen Aims for County Office, Battles Wetter
Longtime St. Michael City Council member and former mayoral candidate Nadine Schoen is looking to move up, so to speak, politically, challenging incumbent Mary Wetter for Wright County Commissioner.
Schoen is a longtime St. Michael resident and identifies as a fiscal conservative. She has been involved, politically, since the early 2000s and was part of the commission that pushed for the expansion of Interstate 94 to six lanes all the way to Monticello. The so-called I-94 Coalition was successful in that goal, with the completion coming this year and into next year.
Wetter, meanwhile, has been forced into running for the second time in three years due to redistricting. She was selected to the commission in District 4 back in 2020, and took office in 2021.
Familiar Faces Battle in Wright County District 3
With all of Albertville moving to Wright County District 3, longtime Commissioner Mark Daleiden called it a political career, deciding not to run in 2022.
That opened the door for former Commissioner and longtime political figure Michael Potter to enter a new race, looking to get back onto the Wright County Commission. Potter was defeated by Wetter in the 2020 vote. He’s long been an advocate for his hometown of Albertville, and has remained active over the past 18 months. Like Schoen, Potter was active with the I-94 Coalition and earned an award form the Minnesota Transportation Alliance. Potter’s info can be found at PotterforWright.com.
His opponent is former STMA School Board member Jeanne Holland, also politically active in STMA over the past decade in areas beyond the school system, and wife of a retired Wright County Sheriff’s deputy. Holland served STMA schools for several yeas and saw the District through unprecedented growth – at times the fastest-growing school district in Minnesota. A longtime nurse who has worked in hospice and other areas, Holland’s focus will be on the aging population of Wright County, as well as school families, who are being taxed both fiscally and socially, she said. More on her platform can be found at HollandForCommissioner.com.
St. Michael City Council Features Four for Two Seats
Ryan Gleason is the lone incumbent in a field of four candidates for St. Michael City Council, running against three political newcomers.
Gleason represents the younger generation in St. Michael politics, earning his seat in 2018 before his 30th birthday. On the board since 2018, Gleason was a proponent of the City Splash Pad at Town Center Park and pushed for development of Town Center and the city’s west side. He’s also been a key communicator of the council, active on social media and at events. Gleason said St. Michael is poised for continued growth as major roads and the interstate continue expansion projects and finish construction. He said residential growth is slated to continue the next few years, and commercial growth near the freeway – particularly near Highway 241 and Naber Avenue – will be essential to compliment that growth.
The rest of the field includes Scott Pedersen, Mayen Duffner and Chris Pignato.
Duffner, aka “The Strawberry Lady,” is co-owner of D’s Round Barn Berries on the city’s west edge, near new development north of Gonz Lake. Duffner was hoist into politics, at least at the city level, when the development of residential areas was impacting her right-of-way to her strawberry farm, which has a short “u-pick” season for locals to come and pick fresh berries. Duffner is advocating for more transparency in the city’s processes, and, as a resident of STMA for more than 30 years, wants to give back to the community. She believes the city is in the “right track” and wants to keep St. Michael a desirable place for businesses and families.
Pedersen is a transportation expert, working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He, too, has lived in the St. Michael area for most of his life (as has Gleason) and graduated from STMA High School in 1986. He views transportation as one of the major issues impacting St. Michael as the city sees the most growth it has seen since the housing crash in 2008, and wants to be involved in the process as roads like County 35 and County 19 – major thoroughfares for residents – are expanded by Wright County over the next 2 to 5 years.
Pignato’s information was not available at the time this article was published.
Albertville City Council Boast Two Incumbents, Challenger
Rob Olson will look to keep his seat on Albertville City Council, as will appointee Bob Zagorski, who joined in 2021 as an appointee when Rebecca Halling resigned due to relocation.
Newcomer Tarik T. Al Duri is seeking his first political spot in Albertville.
Olson has been on the council since 2014, and was re-elected in 2018. Throughout that time, he’s advocated for smart growth within the city limits, as Albertville is pretty much a “contained” community, meaning it can’t annex any land to grow in any direction, thanks in large part to the growth of Otsego to its north, east and west.
Olson has been a steady voice on a council that has seen its extremes over the past decade, including the loss of a city administrator in a messy “divorce” and the resignation of a council member recently due to a zoning decision. He’s advocated for small business in the city’s commercial sector near 57th Street and LaBeaux Avenue, and advocated for transportation with the 94 Coalition and the expansion of I-94 through the community.
Zagorski joined in January 2021 in a limited capacity and was officially sworn in to fill the remainder of Halling’s term. The New York native was on the planning and zoning commission when he was promoted to the board. He works for General Mills after a career in the Army Reserve. Zagorski got involved in local politics when Albertville crews informed him of an easement that was to be placed on his property, and said the experience couldn’t have been better. He wanted to keep a “good thing going” he told NWCT back in 2021. Zagorski said he uses information from both sides, as well as historical precedent and information to decide on local issues, including growth and planning.
No information for Al Duri was available at press time.
School Board Races