All signs pointed to a changing of the guard early in Bloomington’s city council election filing period, and the close of that two-week window last week has made it official.
Mayor Gene Winstead will leave office upon completing this 20th year as mayor in December, ending more than three decades of city involvement, which included serving as a commission and council member prior to 2000.
Winstead was the only council incumbent who did not file for office by the June 4 deadline, and a few contenders for elected office filed during the final 36 hours, giving Bloomington voters plenty of reason to head to the polls for the city’s primary election on Aug. 13.
Of the four seats up for election this fall – mayor, at-large council member, District 1 representative and District 2 representative – only the District 2 race will be absent from the primary ballot. One, two or three candidates in the other races will have their fate decided by mid-August.
The mayor’s seat drew three contenders during the final two days of filing, creating a five-candidate race. Councilmember Tim Busse, who is vacating his at-large seat, was among the early candidates to file for mayor. He will be challenged by Sharon Christensen, Rainer Einsmann, Ryan Kulka and Dan Niziolek.
Busse’s at-large seat has four candidates seeking to fill it. Jenna Carter, Brian “Clem” Clemens, Judy Gelina and Larry James Hotchkiss have filed to represent residents across the city.
District 1 has three candidates seeking to represent residents in the southeast portion of the city. Councilmember Dwayne Lowman has filed for re-election and will be challenged by Johnathon McClellan and Al Noard.
Two candidates in each race will remain following the Aug. 13 primary.
District 2 Councilmember Shawn Nelson is seeking re-election and will be challenged by Susan “Hofmeister” Woodruff. The candidates seeking to represent the southwestern portion of the city are the only candidates assured a spot on the November ballot.
November’s election will not include federal, state or county offices, but there will be a Bloomington Board of Education election. Since the school board does not have a primary election, its filing period is July 30 through Aug. 13.
End of an era
For Winstead, multiple factors signaled the time to step back from an active role in city government, a role that dates back to a time when the Minnesota North Stars were facing off against rivals such as the Chicago Blackhawks at the Met Center on the city’s east side, a site better known today for Mall of America.
“I’ve been involved with the city since the early 1980s,” he noted.
As Winstead’s 70th birthday approaches, thoughts of retirement had crossed his mind. He has worked alongside Busse since Busse was appointed to the council in April 2011, and the men had talked about Busse’s interest in succeeding Winstead when Winstead determined it was time to move on. Busse’s interest and experience, as well as Winstead’s interest in retiring from the council, were indicators that the time was right, Winstead explained.
He admitted there was a bit of self-interest in ending his involvement with city government.
“I want to work on my golf game,” he said.
Winstead has been asked many times about seeking higher office but said he has no desire to do so. “No interest whatsoever.”
He has been happy with his role in city government, where you’re not bogged down by party politics and negotiations between the parties. As a city representative, “That’s where you can be effective,” he said. “You can work to get things done.”
Although he won’t be casting votes on city issues, Winstead expects to remain involved with many organizations he has worked with over the years. “I enjoy a lot of that work,” he said.
With family members living around the city, and his wife Debbie having grown up in Bloomington, Winstead’s future remains in Bloomington, he noted. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
Information about the city’s 2019 election, including how to become an election judge, is available online at tr.im/2019bcc.
Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.