At the Nov. 5 election, St. Peter residents voted on the city’s mayor for the next two years and on four City Council positions.
The results mean Mayor Chuck Zieman will retain his seat, beating out challenger Shawn Schloesser in a tight race, while four new councilors will move in to office. None of the open council seats had incumbents running, which left the door open for Keri Johnson, Shanon Nowell, Brad DeVos and Emily Bruflat.
BACKGROUND: 66 years old. Retired, Nicollet County Assessor Office. Resident of St Peter for 42 years. Wife, “Woody,” is a native of St. Peter. Born and raised on a dairy farm south of Hutchinson. Attended Gustavus and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in business administration. Served on City Council from 2012-2015, mayor since 2016.
Zieman won his race over Schloesser by 23 total votes, according to the unofficial tally from the city Tuesday night. Zieman was unavailable for comment before the publishing of this article, but in a questionnaire ahead of the election, he said, “The biggest issue facing the city are rising costs, especially health insurance costs for city employees and also construction costs for things such as concrete and building materials. I am not sure there is a solution, because we need to maintain a good, experienced city workforce, and to do that, we need to be competitive when it comes to benefits and wages. As for constructions costs, many things, especially raw materials costs are determined by regional and even world markets. We can make sure we are getting the most out our dollars by continuing to get competitive bids when specific projects are undertaken.”
BACKGROUND: 33 years old. Personnel Administrator at the St. Peter Food Co-op. Currently serves on the St. Peter Economic Development Authority (EDA), the St. Peter Community Childcare Center (SP3C) Board of Directors, and the #OurStPeter group. Also helped apply to bring the Blandin Foundation’s Leadership in Ethnically Diverse Communities Program to St. Peter and served on the recruitment committee.
“I feel wonderful,” Johnson said on being elected. “I’m so grateful, because there was a lot of support behind me. I’m excited to get stated and so grateful to be elected to serve this community.”
“I would like to do a lot of listening and learning. I think there is a big learning curve to this role, so I think that’s the priority at first — to get my feet wet and learn everything I can. But we also need to get moving in creating an infrastructure that welcomes people to the area and keeps them here, too.”
BACKGROUND: 43 years old. Executive Assistant to the Provost at Gustavus Adolphus College. Active member of the St. Peter community since moving here with family in 2005. Had the privilege to volunteer with many organizations, including the Creative Play Place, the ECFE advisory board, the St. Peter Library Board, and First Lutheran Church.
“I’m really excited,” Nowell said. “I’m excited to do the work that goes after the campaign.”
“My priorities, as I’ve stated throughout, are thoughtful and careful stewardship of St. Peter tax dollars, creating a welcoming and inclusive community and building a sustainable and green future for all of our residents.”
BACKGROUND: 32 years old. Cantor (Director of Music) at First Lutheran Church. In addition to serving at First Lutheran, has co-led interdenominational services and presented recitals and music festivals. Also has been on the Heritage Preservation Commission since January and recently completed training to become a K-12 “Promoting Respect Workshop” facilitator in area schools through the Greater Mankato Diversity Council.
“I am feeling just very honored and excited to begin the real work now,” Bruflat said. “It’s been fun to do the campaigning and I’ve learned a lot, but I know I have a lot more to learn and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
“My priorities are helping to protect the environment, looking at anything we do or decide from that lens. What is the impact? And another thing that is very important to me is education, and I think we have a great Community Center, and I want to encourage continued educational opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.”
BACKGROUND: 48 years old. Consultant. Member of the St. Peter Economic Development Authority (EDA). Member of Living Truth Fellowship (LTF) church. Volunteer at LTF Wednesday night youth program (AWANA). Small business consultant with clients in St. Peter and the surrounding area. Former Treasurer of St. Peter Community Childcare Center (SP3C).
“I’m excited, relieved I guess, is the best way to put it. I was pretty nervous,” DeVos said. “That’s the best way to describe it is kind of relieved and excited.”
“Most people heard me talk about renewables and getting a push for the city and our power to be sourced more from renewables. Then off the top of my head, (priorities include) working toward finding a solution for the fire station and expanding housing options in St. Peter.”