Mower County backs DFL and the environment

Voters on Tuesday made it clear that they want change in our nation’s capital. In Austin and throughout much of Minnesota, however, the status quo generally carried the day.

But it in some cases it was very close, with Austin’s mayoral race being the best example. Incumbent Tom Stiehm prevailed by a razor-thin margin, and his opponent, Mark Nagle, deserves to be congratulated for his spirited, interesting campaign. We hope the town now will unite behind Stiehm as Austin builds its new justice center and continues to grapple with issues that include immigration, crime and the need to bring more businesses and jobs to the area.

In local legislative races, DFL incumbents Robin Brown and Jeanne Poppe retained their House seats with relative ease, and across much of southern Minnesota, that trend held true, regardless of party affiliation. Republican Randy Demmer of Hayfield won handily, and the DFL continued its dominance in Rochester, where all three incumbents retained their seats in races that weren’t close.

And not surprisingly, Mower County voters were overwhelming in their support for U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who garnered 70 percent of the vote against his Republican opponent, Brian Davis. Walz, a military veteran who taught high school in Mankato before entering politics, has done a good job representing farmers, soldiers and the middle class, and we’re pleased that he’ll be returning to Washington.

Indeed, Minnesota’s entire congressional delegation is politically unchanged. Outgoing 3rd District Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Republican, will be replaced by Republican Erik Paulsen, and all other incumbents retained their seats.


If there was a shocker on Tuesday, it didn’t involve a candidate. Voters approved the Legacy Act, a constitutional amendment that will raise the state’s sales tax to protect Minnesota’s waters, wildlife habitat, parks and cultural heritage. The fact that nearly 60 percent of voters supported this measure — the figure was even higher in Mower County — indicates that Minnesotans are serious about preserving their state’s natural resources.

Sadly, this vote also demonstrates a complete lack of confidence in legislators to do the job we elect them to do. We wish we could argue that our elected officials are up to the task, and that voters have unnecessarily usurped their authority, but the Legislature’s track record in these areas — particularly regarding water quality — doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Our biggest concern now is that the $300 million that will be raised annually will actually be spent in meaningful ways, rather than being somehow usurped by a cash-strapped Legislature that will doubtless be tempted by a new pot of money.

As for the U.S. Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken, we’re glad that, pending a recount, it appears that Minnesota did its part to prevent complete Democratic dominance in Congress. A filibuster-proof majority in the Senate wouldn’t be a good thing for America right now, and we think the moderate Coleman could be an effective leader of the minority party.

But our happiness with this result is tempered by our disgust with the way Coleman and Franken conducted their campaigns. We’d like to think that we’re better than that in Minnesota, but perhaps we’re fooling ourselves.

What To Read Next
Get Local