News recap | Close races for Rochester City Council could trigger recounts
Local voters went to the polls in near-record numbers this week for primary elections. In Rochester, the voter turnout was about 30 percent, more than triple turnout in 2016. That was a trend consistent across the state — with two high-profile primaries for Minnesota governor.
On the DFL side, 1st District Congressman Tim Walz beat out challengers Erin Murphy and Lori Swanson. And Jeff Johnson upset former Governor Tim Pawlenty to earn the Republican spot on November’s ballot.
For Walz's closely-watched congressional seat, the Republican-endorsed Jim Hagedorn easily beat out State Senator Carla Nelson of Rochester. Hagedorn, who lost to Walz by one percentage point in 2016, will face Democratic opponent Dan Feehan, an army combat veteran from Red Wing.
"I would like to think that the numbers show that people are eager to support a candidate who welcomes their input and who will work to bring about smart and fair decisions for our city," Norton told Med City Beat this week. "This election is not about me or my opponent. It’s about how the next mayor will use that office to improve the lives of everyone who lives here."
For Rochester City Council Ward 1, Patrick Keane was the clear winner. But with a margin of five votes between second place finisher Heather Holmes and third place candidate Paul Myhrom, a recount is likely.
The situation was similar in Ward 5. Shaun C Palmer, who has run for the seat in the past, came out on top — while second place finisher Judy Hickey narrowly beat out third place candidate Byron Clark by just 18 votes.
The city clerk’s office says both council races are close enough to qualify for a publicly-funded recount. Candidates have a five-day period to request a second look once the results are canvassed today at 2 p.m.
"There are no automatic recounts for municipal offices, but rather provisions for publicly funded recounts at the request of an impacted candidate," the clerk's office noted this week.
Update: Both Myhrom and Clark have requested recounts.
Most recently, there was a recount in 2002 for the Ward 5 council seat. According to city records, Bob Nowicki led a three way field that also included now Council President Randy Staver and Peg Arnold.
Arnold asked for a recount after trailing 12 votes behind Staver for the second nomination to the general election ballot that year. Ultimately, the recount changed just a single vote — in favor of Staver.