With a 10-letter name that’s not easy to spell, Dan Rechtzigel laughed when he first heard people were talking about writing his name in on the ballot.
Two Kenyon City Council seats were up in 2018. Doug Henke ran for another term, but Fred Barsness’s decision not to run left an open spot. No one else had stepped forward to file by the deadline, so a write-in was the next option.
“Needless to say, I was shocked when Mayor Mike Engel stopped by and told me I had won a (seat) I didn’t seek. In fact, after the election many people wondered why I didn’t ask for their vote.”
Truth was, Rechtzigel hadn’t asked for anyone’s vote.
He may have been low key, but it’s no stretch of the imagination to picture him in public office. Rechtzigel teaches social studies at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School and already has a breadth of experience in local and county government.
At the age of 18 he ran for and won the office of Cherry Grove Township Clerk, holding that position from 1994 to 2010. Then he ran for District 3 Goodhue County Commissioner and served on that board for 12 years, choosing not to seek re-election in 2016. He was also named Goodhue County Editorial Association’s 2016 Citizen of the Year. It’s not a bad record, especially for a man under the age of 50.
Still, Rechtzigel says he was surprised at the write-in for City Council. He received 36 of the 176 write-ins on the ballot. Both the first and last name of a write-in candidate must be spelled correctly for it to count.
It may have helped that the week before the election, unknown to Rechtzigel, Engel went around town handing out slips of paper with “Dan Rechtzigel” typed in bold.
On the evening prior to the November council meeting, Rechtzigel decided to accept.
“I thought about it a lot over the weekend, and decided that there must be a reason for this to have happened. I’m not sure what the reason is, but Kenyon is my home and I wasn’t going to turn my back on a community that has been so good to me and that I love dearly,” Rechtzigel said.
He added that it wouldn’t feel right teaching kids to step up and be civic-minded in the community and then turn down an opportunity to practice what he preaches.
Rechtzigel encourages his students to attend and participate in political caucuses and has even had students go on to become delegates to the state convention, such as Evelyn Humphrey.
Not having enough candidates can be a costly proposition for a government entity.
According to Kenyon City Administrator Mark Vahlsing, if Rechtzigel had not accepted, council would have had to declare the seat vacant in January 2019, advertise for interested candidates and then appoint a person to a two-year term until the next election cycle. Then the city would have had the expense of a special election for the remaining two years of the term.
So what’s his plan for Kenyon in 2019? Not having been an official candidate, Rechtzigel said he isn’t coming in with any agenda other than to work hard and do the best job that he can.