Rosemount City Council Member Tammy Block resigned from her elected position Tuesday, Sept. 6, due to the situation surrounding an altercation between her son and representative from a group associated with a 2022 Republican secretary of state primary candidate serving an election-related petition against the city that was hand-delivered to Block’s home at about 8:50 p.m. Aug. 2.
“The political arena has changed greatly in the four years since I was elected,” Block said during the Sept. 6 council meeting, after which her resignation became effective. “I never would have thought that a political extremist would show up at my home not once, not twice, but three times, including at night. Intimidating, threatening and harrasssing me and my family.
“When the individual came a third time when we were all sleeping and was restrained by my son, the tide turned.
“The individual who came to my home and threatened us became the victim in the police report and my son became the perpetrator even though he was the one initially shoved and punched.”
A copy of the police report narrative was requested by the newspaper, but the narrative was not provided, as police said it was an active case. A copy of court citation was requested by the newspaper from the Apple Valley city attorney to which the case was referred to in order to avoid any conflict of interest, but it was not provided as of presstime.
As a result of the incident, three people were cited with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, according to Rosemount Police: Block’s son, Daniel Joseph Tesch, 20; another person of the household, Marco Antonio Arriaga, 49; and Drew William Roach, 37, of Farmington, who was serving the group’s petition at the house.
Block said police did not give a member of her household, the only person of color at the scene, an opportunity to make a statement at the scene. She said an eyewitness who saw only the final seconds of what occurred acted as the impartial witness validating the charges against her son.
“Given my experience with the process from beginning to end and the situation as a whole, I don’t feel I can continue as an impartial council member,” Block said. “Nor would I ever want to put my family through a situation like that again. And given the political climate, it can definitely happen again.
“A stranger had the ability to come to my home and harm my family emotionally and physically, and we are told that we are the ones in the wrong by defending ourselves,” she said.
Police Chief Mike Dahlstrom said in a statement on Tuesday, Sept. 13, that he couldn’t comment on specifics of the case.
“We are disappointed in former Councilmember Block’s categorization of the events that occurred that evening. I’ve personally reviewed the body cam footage from that incident and I am confident that our officers followed policy and procedure. Equally important, our officers handled the call impartially, professionally, and thoroughly. The entire case was sent to another jurisdiction for review and to make charging decisions for us in order to avoid any conflict of interest.”
“I have a lot of respect for the police department and the chief and I have supported them in any way that I can,” Block wrote in an email to the newspaper on Wednesday, Sept. 14. “And, I understand that the chief should support his officers. Unfortunately, the chief was not there that night to experience what we did and I did share my concerns with him after the fact. I don’t believe that the officers acted maliciously, but I don’t feel and my family doesn’t feel that on the night of the event that the situation and our statements or attempt to make statements were handled to the standard that I would hope our police department would have for all of our citizens.”
She said a member of her household was not given the opportunity to give a statement, although he was there throughout the whole incident.
“He proactively and willingly, without being asked, went back to the police department a few days later to give his statement so that it was on the record,” she wrote.
Block said during the Sept. 6 meeting that she hoped that if the city would have suspected that an agitated person might come to her home that it would have given her a notice by phone or text. She said the city sent an email warning, which Block said she didn’t get in time.
The Petition to Correct Errors and Omissions Under Minnesota Statute 204B.44 was hand delivered to Rosemount City Hall at about 3 p.m. Aug. 2, according to City Administrator Logan Martin, and since the five council members were included as a “party” on the injunction, it had to be hand-delivered to them as well. The petition aimed to seek declaratory and injunctive relief to stop what the petitioners described as “additional illegalities from being committed” in the Aug. 9 primary.
Martin said at 3:13 p.m. he alerted the five council members by email that the petition would be delivered to their homes that day.
He said the petition was delivered without incident to two council members at their homes that day, and two other council members were out of town at the time. The petition was never served to those council members since a deadline to serve it had passed, Martin said.
Martin said Block replied by email at 5:20 p.m. that she had received the city’s notification that the injunction would be delivered to her home. Block said in an email to the newspaper on Wednesday, Sept. 14, that she received Martin’s email, but that was after a person serving the petition had been to her house twice, and she was unable to answer to door due to her work and meeting with contractors working on her home.
She said the second time the person came to the door at about 4-4:30 p.m., he rang the doorbell and pounded on the door incessantly for a few minutes.
“It was disconcerting, but we waited for the individual to leave and he did not return at that time,” Block wrote.
It was after 5 p.m. that he said she checked her council email and first saw the alert from Martin.
Martin said the petition was served against Dakota County since it was related to voting machines. The city of Rosemount was selected as a municipality to serve as a companion since the cities operate the voting machines owned by Dakota County.
Martin said the petition was flatly dismissed by the court. Lead petitioners were Bill Kieffer and Erik van Mechelen, a Republican who sought the GOP endorsement for secretary of state this year.
Van Mechelen said on his blog Midwest Seeds that Roach was grabbed in the throat by Tesch during the incident. Van Mechelen said that Roach’s children were inside a truck down the street from the incident.
Block maintained in her Sept. 14 email that Roach was the first one to get physical and threatened them.
“My family is paying the consequences for his actions because we were simply trying to protect ourselves against a bully,” she said.
“I don’t mean any harm to the city and I was honored to work with everyone there, but I also felt that I needed to be able to give our side of what happened to us that night,” she wrote.
Before making the resignation decision, Block said she talked with her family about it.
Block, an attorney, was elected in 2018. She has served on nonprofit boards for Wings for Widows and Team Women MN. She has also served on the District 196 Community Education Advisory Board, including being its chair, along with being a volunteer with many school and community groups.
“It has been my true honor to serve the city and I wish them well,” she said, “and I look forward to continue to watch it grow.”
“It has been a sincere honor to work with you the past years,” said Mayor Bill Droste during the Sept. 6 meeting. “You’ve added a tremendous amount of wisdom, especially with your background, and a fresh voice. We will miss you.”
Block’s name will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot along with Council Member Paul Essler, who is seeking reelection. They are the only two candidates who filed for two openings on the council as of the May 31 deadline.
Block is unable to have her name removed from the ballot since the deadline has passed for withdrawal.
It is possible that a write-in candidate could be elected if the person receives more votes than Block. If Block were to receive enough votes to be elected, the position would be vacant and would be filled by special election at a later date, according to city ordinance. The council could opt to make a temporary appointment until an election could be held.
Tad Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.