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Podulke announces this is her last year as Olmsted County commissioner

Official announcement follows redistricting that will require election for two-year term in county's District 1.

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Olmsted County County Board of Commissioners Chair Stephanie Podulke speaks during “A Community United” an event by Olmsted County recognizing COVID-19 responses and partnerships on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, at Graham Park in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — Olmsted County Commissioner Stephanie Podulke officially announced she will not seek re-election in November.

While she was re-elected in 2020 to what would traditionally be a four-year term, the District 1 commissioner faced the need for another campaign due to recent redistricting efforts that shifted the population of District 1 by more than 5%.

“It is a distinct privilege to have worked alongside dedicated, creative, competent county staff and other elected people at many levels of government,” Podulke said Thursday in a statement announcing she will not campaign for another term. “We coordinated our efforts to make policy that improves the present and future of this county.”

Podulke joined the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners in 2011, following a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of her husband Mike Podulke, who had been a long-time commissioner.

With a background in teaching and family therapy, Stephanie Podulke has been an advocate for many policies and programs tied to the county’s human services work.

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“I hold a strong belief in the possibilities of human potential and social change; working at the county level of government has provided the opportunity to create policy that supports those values,” she said.

Podulke said Tuesday she expected to announce her retirement after the county commissioners adopted the new district boundaries, stating she wasn’t sure she wanted to campaign again.

“I leave the county government with satisfaction that the county is fiscally sound, provides excellence in service every day, and is well positioned for a stable and prosperous future,” she said Thursday. “I am proud of the part I and my colleagues played in this good future.”

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Podulke is the third county commissioner to announce she will not seek another term. Commissioners Matt Flynn and Ken Brown made similar announcements earlier this year.

Commissioners Sheila Kiscaden and Gregg Wright have said they will seek re-election in November.

Commissioner Jim Bier has said as recently as Tuesday that he remains undecided, and Commissioner Mark Thein will not be required to seek re-election since District 7 didn’t see a population shift with the new county boundaries.

The filing period for districts 1 through 6 is from May 17 to May 31, with an Aug. 9 primary election set to narrow candidates to two, if needed. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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