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Six candidates vie for three Afton seats

A last-minute rush of applications means that Afton's mayoral race and two ward positions will each be contested.

Half of the six submissions came in on the final day to register to stand in the November elections, Tuesday last week, Sept. 9.

Here, the Woodbury Bulletin introduces the candidates who will be vying for your vote in the coming weeks.

Mayoral race

Bob Dickie and Pat Snyder will be competing for the position of city mayor, an office currently held by Julia Welter, who announced in February she would not be seeking re-election.

Attorney Dickie, 51, has lived in Afton since 1984. He has served on the Afton Foundation and the comprehensive plan review committee, and convened the Main Street Afton group which is affiliated to the National Historic Trust, bringing residents and business owners together on the subject of the future of the Old Village.

"It's about having a community conversation on the best way to preserve Afton's rural qualities, protecting its natural resources and establishing a tax base that makes this possible to meet the needs of the residents," said Dickie, talking on the major factors facing Afton in the short term.

"Sometimes those two appear to be in conflict and we need to find a way to resolve that conflict."

Snyder, 52, has lived in Afton for the last 25 years and works as a manufacturer's representative for a small business co-run with her husband Mike, handling products in the security industry.

She has served on the Afton City Council, planning commission, Metropolitan Council agricultural preserve sub-committee and Valley Branch Watershed District.

"I am running for mayor because I am concerned about the development pressure we are facing here in Afton and I don't want to lose our rural character," wrote Snyder in an e-mail.

"It's time to put aside our political differences and work for, not against our common goals."

Snyder is running a joint campaign with ward 4 candidate Barbara Ronningen.

Council Ward 1

Running for office in Ward 1, which is currently held by council member Nick Mucciacciaro, who will not be seeking re-election, are Ken Knutson and Bill Palmquist.

Ken Knutson, 67, is a retired 3M executive who has lived in Afton for 39 years.

He is the author of the regular e-mailed "Afton Update," which is sent to a large number of households in Afton, and says he has attended practically every city council and planning commission meeting of the last three years.

"This is a very critical time for Afton's future," said Knutson. "The decisions that will be made in the next one to four years are going to influence Afton's future for many years to come.

"Many of [the issues] are related to land use and management... I don't want to be characterized as someone who doesn't want any development at all; my position is carefully managed development."

Palmquist, who has been a member of the comprehensive plan advisory committee in Afton, had not responded to a phone message by the time the Woodbury Bulletin went to press.

Council Ward 4

In ward 4, the candidates are Randy Nelson and Barbara Ronningen.

Nelson is the incumbent councilman representing Ward 4. A life-long resident of Afton, Nelson, a farmer by trade, stood for the first time and won the ward 4 seat in the 2004 election.

Prior to his service on the city council, Nelson had served on the planning commission for some months.

Nelson had not responded to a phone message by the time the Woodbury Bulletin went to press.

Ronningen, 61, is the vice chair of the Afton Planning Commission. She is a 25-year resident of Afton, is a demographer for the Minnesota State Demographic Center, and has also served on the natural resources and groundwater commission, the Middle St. Croix Water Management Organization and the comprehensive plan subcommittee.

"I think we have some issues that most cities do, that are fiscal, with a downturn in the economy generally that's going to affect our budget in the city," said Ronningen.

"We certainly have issues related to how we develop our land.

"I think we have done an excellent job of controlling and developing our land in the last 30 years since the first comp plan was written."

Ronningen is running a joint campaign with mayoral candidate Pat Snyder.

n Watch out for in-depth candidate profiles in the Woodbury Bulletin as the elections approach.