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Incumbents retain seats on Afton City Council

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Afton City Council will stick with the status quo after the Nov. 6 election.

All incumbents were re-elected.

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Mayor Pat Snyder, who was unopposed, was re-elected to her third two-year term with 95 percent of the vote.

City Council Member Randy Nelson defeated Afton Planning Commission Chairwoman Barb Ronningen with 52 percent of the votes, winning by a margin of just 20 votes.

City Council Member Bill Palmquist defeated Planning Commissioner Kris Koptizke with 73 percent of the vote.

"Afton was in a position this election where we just couldn't lose - we were fortunate to have four outstanding candidates with strong ties to the community and longstanding records of civic involvement," Snyder said. "I want to thank all four candidates for running thoughtful, positive, issue-oriented campaigns and I think it reflects well on Afton as a whole."

Voter turnout in Afton was about 87 percent, according to Jennifer Wagenius of Washington County.

A total of 2,064 voters cast votes in Afton's precincts.

Ward 1

The Ward 1 race represented a landslide for Palmquist, who earned a second term with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Palmquist, who was at home with friends and family while returns came in, said he was happy with the results.

"It was nice to hear," he said.

Palmquist said he had no inclination going into Tuesday night whether or not he would be victorious.

"It's hard to say in these local elections," he said, "because you just never know."

Palmquist said he believe his dedication and support to the city's levee project helped in his re-election.

"The whole campaign was made about the Main Street and the levee project downtown," he said. "It was very reassuring and reaffirming that people voted for me when that was made the central issue - I was happy to see the support."

Palmquist said his main focus in the new term will be primarily on the flood mitigation project in the Old Village.

"I'm looking forward to starting to get the ball rolling again to keep moving some of these projects forward," he said.

Additionally, Palmquist said he is looking forward to continuing to work with the current City Council.

"I'm just really happy that the same group is going to be together - it's valuable," he said. "We don't agree on everything but we've found a way to work together efficiently."

Ward 4

The Ward 4 race held a bit of déjà vu from the 2008 election when Nelson also defeated Ronningen by a narrow margin.

Whereas in 2008, when Nelson defeated Ronningen with 55 percent of the vote, the 2012 election saw an even closer margin with Nelson receiving 52 percent.

"I thought it would probably be close," Nelson said. "I just tried to talk to as many people as I could."

On election night, Nelson said he was actually out playing hockey so he didn't know he won until he got a call.

"I tried to keep it off my mind and hope for the best," he said. "But, I'm glad to be re-elected."

Nelson said he feels his honest approach to issues helped him secure his third term on Afton City Council.

"I think it's the experience that I've had with the council," he said. "I think most people know that I'm going to speak my mind and be honest - I'm pretty straightforward with my opinions."

Now that the election is over, Nelson said he is ready to direct his focus to the city's levee project and possibly look at revising the city's open space ordinance.

"I'm glad the election is over like everybody else - it's nice to have it behind us," he said. "Now the levee project is the most obvious thing that we need to come to some sort of agreement on and get that squared away."

Like Palmquist, Nelson said he is glad the current council is able to stay together.

"We've been working better together in the last few months than we have in the past," he said. "That makes it better for all of us and better for the city."

Snyder also agreed.

"The one thing I keep hearing over and over from people is how they appreciate is how the city is working," she said. "Whether it be how the council members get along or how the Planning Commission and City Council work cooperatively together to get the job done and accomplish our goals, it benefits everyone."

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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