Our View: Peterson’s lengthy service to Washington County Board, citizens deserves praiseA whirlwind election season certainly brought with it the winds of change on multiple levels of elected office.
A whirlwind election season certainly brought with it the winds of change on multiple levels of elected office.
And although some of the changes that have taken place were anticipated by the political pundits, could anyone have foreseen what can surely be considered an upset victory for Washington County Commissioner-elect Autumn Lehrke?
The 28-year-old first-time political candidate ran on a message of “turning over a new leaf” in District 4, which includes Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport. But it wasn’t her inexperience in campaigning alone that makes her Election Night victory an upset. It is the fact that Lehrke’s opponent is a stalwart elected official in the East Metro.
Myra Peterson was first elected to the County Board in a special election in 1993. She was then re-elected in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006.
During that time, the former Oakdale mayor became a leader not only in the county but in the East Metro on myriad issues, but none more staunchly than transportation.
County government is often an afterthought in the grand scheme of elected office. But it is a level of government that is responsible for many public services and there is a lot of money involved.
Peterson was not afraid to advocate for the county at the state and even national level. And while doing so she was also willing to curb spending, when necessary, to help Washington County earn its reputation as one of most fiscally conservative counties in the state. As a result she is well respected among her fellow commissioners and other elected officials on the municipal, county and state level. She is considered an expert on numerous government issues by many of her colleagues.
But even with all those years of experience on her resume, the voters of District 4 spoke loudly for change in County Board representation on Nov. 2.
Nearly 53 percent of voters cast their ballots for Lehrke. As a result, a new voice will join the five-member County Board that otherwise remains unchanged in its representation.
It became clear during the campaign season that Lehrke is passionate about her community and able to tackle the big picture issues. Was it her message that resonated with the voting populace, or was it a simple desire for change during an election season marked by the sentiment? Either way, we wish her the best in her new role as an elected official.
We also wish Myra Peterson well as she closes out the final weeks of her term as Washington County commissioner.
It’s clear that regardless of the politics involved in county government, Peterson was committed to representing her constituents and advocating for not only her district, or “heart of the county” as she likes to call it, but for all of Washington County.
As the County Board and the populace look forward to a new face and new energy in Lehrke’s service as county commissioner, let them also look back and thank Peterson for her years of service to the citizens of Washington County.
In politics and in life, change is inevitable. Sometimes you can anticipate its arrival. Other times it comes when you least expect it. And in this particular instance, we can both look back with gratitude and look forward with optimism.