(Update: This story has been updated to reflect that Jeremy Bishop filed for Ward I while Aaron Reuvers withdrew from the at-large race.)
So far, eight Northfield residents have filed for the upcoming Northfield City Council election this fall.
Councilor Suzie Nakasian is running again for the Ward 1 seat of the Northfield City Council. Nakasian has served on the council since 2010, participating in the Downtown Parking Subcommittee, the Northfield Grass Roots Transit Initiative and the Rice/Steele County 911 Joint Powers Board.
She said her main priorities are economic development and job creation.
“I’m excited by what we’re doing to attract new businesses into the community,” she said. “It’s a privilege to serve on the city council, and I’m eager to continue what we’ve started.”
Fellow councilor Rhonda Pownell has also filed to run for her at-large seat. Pownell was first elected to the council in 2008 and has been involved in the Economic Development Authority, the Fire Service Study Group and the Northfield Fire Relief Association, as well as acting as a board member for the League of Minnesota Cities.
Pownell said her main priorities are economic development and core city services such as the Police Department, Fire Department, streets and sewers. She added that many projects have already been started that she wants to continue, using the experience she’s gained working on the council so far.
“It’s important to have people on the council that are committed to seeing work get done, for the good of the community,” she said. “It takes a long time to move some of those initiatives forward, and we still have a lot to do. I’m committed to doing the work.”
Running against Pownell is Dale Gehring, who has lived in Northfield with his family for the past 13 years. He works in insurance, sits on the Economic Development Authority and is chairman of the Northfield Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He recently ran against Patrick Ganey for the Ward 4 council seat in 2010 that Peterson White now occupies.
Gehring said he has thought about running for some time, after watching how inefficiently the City Council currently functions.
Gehring has several areas he hopes to focus on if he’s elected, he said, such as expanding jobs and the tax base, following the city charter more closely, staying more on track when it comes to city budgets and encouraging more citizen involvement. The most important part of his platform, though, is ensuring councilors are better at working together, compromising and getting things done in Northfield.
“Something needs to be done, and nothing’s getting done right now,” he said.
Another candidate running for the at-large seat is Jon Denison, who served on the council from 2006-2010. Denison has lived in Northfield his whole life and works as a nursing assistant at the Northfield Care Center.
He said he’s running because he’s disappointed with how the council has behaved recently, especially regarding its decision to hire an out-of-town attorney for its legal needs.
“The council and Rhonda Pownell are out of touch with the community,” he said.
He said if elected, his biggest priority would be addressing the questions of hiring the city’s attorneys and its new City Administrator, since he said he doubts an administrator will be hired any time soon.
The final at-large candidate is Neka Sharp, who filed last Tuesday.
Councilor Jessica Peterson White has also filed for fall’s election as the Ward 4 candidate. She was appointed as the Ward 4 council representative in November 2012 and was elected in a special election last year to fill the one year remaining in the term. During her time on the council, she has been involved on the Convention and Visitors Bureau. She also has experience as a Rice County commissioner, planning commissioner and community organizer.
Peterson White said her main priorities are creating strong financial policies for the city, investing in public safety and infrastructure, and helping Northfield’s CVB board, Chamber of Commerce and Northfield Downtown Development Corporation work together for a stronger city.
“I’m running because I continue to be committed to helping move Northfield forward in a positive way,” she said.
In addition, Joe Gasior has filed as a Ward 1 candidate. Gasior ran for the at-large position in last year's election but didn't make it past the primary. He is an electrical engineering manager at MOM Brands (formerly Malt-O-Meal) and has experience on the City of Waite Park Parks Board and the Northfield Family YMCA Site and Facilities committee.
Another Ward I candidate is Jeremy Bishop, who filed Tuesday.
At-large candidate Aaron Reuvers announced his withdrawal from the race Tuesday as well.
Grace Webb covers the cities of Northfield and Lonsdale, and writes about public safety. You can reach her at 645-1117.