Filing period ends for Bloomington Board of Education election

Bloomington’s city council election ballot has been finalized with the elimination of six candidates following Tuesday’s primary.

The crowded field of mayoral candidates was trimmed from five to two with a near tie between the candidates who will advance to November’s general election. First-time council candidate Ryan Kulka finished 38 votes ahead of City Councilmember Tim Busse as the duo easily outdistanced the remaining opponents. Kulka received 2,554 votes while Busse received 2,516. Third place went to Dan Niziolek, a former Minneapolis City Council member making his first bid at elected office in Bloomington, who received 1,236 votes. Sharon Christensen received 277 votes while Rainer Einsmann received 57.

The at-large seat Busse is vacating in his bid for the mayor’s seat is down to two finalists with Jenna Carter receiving more than half of the votes cast in the citywide race. She received 3,407 votes and will continue her campaign against Brian “Clem” Clemens, who received 2,172 votes. Eliminated from the race were Judy Gelina, who received 389 votes, and Larry James Hotchkiss, who received 309 votes.

The city’s District 1 seat had three candidates, and incumbent Dwayne Lowman garnered 42% of the votes cast in his eight southeastern precincts. He received 868 votes, earning him a spot on the November ballot alongside Al Noard, who received 602 votes. Lowman’s challenger of four years ago, Johnathon McClellan, received 573 votes in finishing third.

The council’s District 2 seat will also be on the November ballot, but did not have a primary election. Incumbent Shawn Nelson will be challenged by Susan “Hofmeister” Woodruff.

Within an hour of the primary results, Clemens was assessing what he needs to do in order to win the at-large election.

“I know that I need to work harder,” he said.

Clemens was a late entry into the election and contemplated two courses of action. He has long known outgoing mayor Gene Winstead and has talked with Winstead about being more involved in city matters. The timing for a council run was pretty good, Clemens determined, as he has been a 19-year member of the city’s fire department and is planning to retire when he completes 20 years in 2020, at which point he is eligible for the department’s pension, he explained.

Clemens considered running for mayor, but determined that his lack of council experience meant being the council’s leader might not be the best fit. After returning from an out-of-town trip near the end of the filing period, Clemens opted to pursue the at-large seat instead.

In the closing days of the primary campaign, Clemens began discussing what differentiated him from other candidates in the at-large field. As a person who has voted for both of the major parties, Clemens has resisted aligning with either party in the nonpartisan race. “The goal should be what’s best for Bloomington and not what’s best for the party,” he said. “I want to do what’s right for Bloomington.”

During his first two months of campaigning, it was clear that the hot button issue is where a new community center will end up. With the current focus on Valley View Park, “The location is going to continue to be a big issue,” he said.

Clemens said there’s frustration with the site because it’s unclear as to how a community center would fit at the park, and what the impact would be on existing park amenities.

School board

Eight candidates have filed for three seats on the Bloomington Board of Education, which does not have a primary election.

The school board’s ballot will feature two incumbents and six challengers. Boardmembers Maureen Bartolotta and Nelly Korman will compete against Tami Childs, Scott Christensen, John Moravec, Mia Olson, Nick Schneider and Heather Starks.

Boardmember Dick Bergstrom did not file for re-election.

Filing for the school board’s election closed Tuesday afternoon.

The city and school district elections will be held Nov. 5.

Primary vote totals are from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website and are available online at tr.im/tuesday12.

Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.

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