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Norton wins historic vote as Rochester's first woman mayor

Kim Norton said her campaign wasn’t about becoming Rochester’s first woman mayor. She said she was running to serve her city, and she just happens to be a woman. At the same time, the newly elected mayor acknowledges the timing makes it something...

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Mayor-elect Kim Norton gets a hug from her son Cody Norton as election results come in during an election night watch party Tuesday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Rochester. Norton was elected as the first female mayor of Rochester.
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Kim Norton said her campaign wasn’t about becoming Rochester’s first female mayor.

She said she was running to serve her city, and she just happens to be a woman.

At the same time, the newly elected mayor acknowledges the timing makes it something larger.

"There are a lot of women that ended up running for office, so I am part of something that is historic, and that’s exciting, too," she said.

Still, she said she doesn’t think it was her gender that led to her receiving nearly 68 percent of the 46,968 votes cast in the city Tuesday.

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"I think it was my experience and people’s trust in me," said the former state legislator, who served five terms in the Minnesota House.

Her opponent, Charlie O’Connell, supported that trust in her experience.

"I think the future of Rochester is in good hands," he said after the votes were tallied Tuesday night.

Norton and O’Connell were able to conduct campaigns based on mutual respect, even sometimes being the targets of complaints that they were not doing enough to define their differences.

"That’s really what I’m most proud about with the whole campaign," O’Connell said of the respect between the candidates, noting many voters are tired of the negative messages.

Norton agreed, noting O’Connell made her commitment to running a civil campaign easy. She said the respect was seen between candidates from the beginning, including in the seven-way primary race, in which Norton received 52 percent of the vote.

"I think we all ran on what we had to offer," she said. "I wish more politician would do that."

During the campaign Norton said she plans to be "a strong mayor in a weak mayor system," citing a desire to influence policy more than previous mayors have. She’s also listed transparency, housing and creating a sustainable community as priorities.

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Kim Norton 31,810

Charlie O'Connell 14,938

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton
Kim Norton

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