Lively race for county commissioner in North, Northeast Minneapolis


CORRECTION: As a commenter has noted, this article contained some fairly significant inaccuracies in the list of candidates. It has now been revised. 

Voters in Hennepin County’s 2nd Commissioner District (North and Northeast Minneapolis) have some head-scratching to do – not just about which candidate to support for the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners but also about the terms and areas the elected person will serve.

It all started when Commissioner Mark Stenglein resigned from the Board, effective May 31, to become president and CEO of the Downtown Minneapolis Council. That left vacant two years of his unfinished term representing the 2nd Commissioner District.

And then came the redistricting process, required as a result of the 2010 Census. Any district that had more than a five percent change in population had to be redistricted. The 2nd District, now vacant, basically lost New Hope and Crystal to the 1st District (Commissioner Mike Opat) while the 1st District no longer includes residents in Minneapolis. The 2nd District also includes Golden Valley, Medicine Lake, Plymouth, parts of Saint Anthony, Northeast Minneapolis, North Minneapolis, Bryn Mawr, and North Loop. 

Looking toward November, five Commissioners are up for election/re-election. The 5th, 6th, and 7th District seats are on the ballot because the terms of the current Commissioners have expired. The 1st and 2nd District seats are on the ballot because of re-districting. Except for the 2nd District Commissioner, all of those elected in November will serve four year terms. The 2nd District Commissioner filling the seat vacated by Commissioner Stenglein will be elected for a two-year term that will end in 2014. The other two Commissioners, Gail Dorfman in the 3rd District and Peter McLaughlin in the 4th District, have two more years to serve in their terms.

The candidates who hope to represent the reconfigured 2nd District on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners are:

• Leslie Davis
• Steve Dehler
• Rolf Erickson
Linda Higgins
Tonia Johnson
• Kathleen Murdock
• Paula Pentel
• Roger Smithrud
• Blong Yang

Don Samuels filed as a candidate, but announced that he is withdrawing from the race. (See Star Tribune interview with Samuels.)

The candidates are out in the community explaining their experience and positions in countless venues. Each maintains a current website with extensive background information, the candidate’s plans if elected, and an opportunity for interaction.

A primary election set for Tuesday, August 14, will narrow the race to the top two vote-getters. The general election for the five Commissioners as well as for other local officials is Tuesday, November 6.

Residents who want to vote in the primary and general elections may be understandably confused. Help is at hand. Key sources of information are these:


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