Red Wing voters select Egan as new mayor
RED WING — Dennis Egan won 11 of the 12 precincts in Red Wing's special mayoral election Tuesday to defeat Stan Nerhaugen and become the city's next mayor.
Egan planned to meet with city staff members on Wednesday and expects to officially be sworn into office Feb. 28.
"I'm extremely excited to have an opportunity to take some of the best ideas that have been talked about for the last five weeks (of campaigning) and work with the administration and the council to keep moving the city forward," Egan said. "I'm just elated to have the opportunity and the support of the residents."
Red Wing's former chamber of commerce president used a strong, diverse marketing campaign to leverage votes in what city clerk Kathy Johnson called a "slow" day at the polls. Egan purchased a half page ad in a local newspaper, sent out 2,000 fliers and incorporated an aggressive social media blitz focused mostly on Facebook to engage a variety of the population.
Egan also met with Red Wing High School students who were of voting age to seek their support, in addition to visiting various "coffee groups" around town.
"We tried to touch a lot of different groups," said the 47-year-old mayor elect.
Nerhaugen, 66, said he thinks he was outspent by about 7-1 on the campaign trail. The result was an 834-556 victory in an election where just 14 percent of 9,771 registered voters took part.
Things were so slow at the polls that one election official said he nearly finished two books during his 12-hour shift.
The unusual timing of the election was caused by former Red Wing Mayor John Howe being elected to the Minnesota Senate in November. Howe officially stepped down from his mayoral office on Jan. 4, halfway through his four-year mayoral term.
The special election was projected to cost the city about $25,000.
While Egan claimed victory in his first time running for public office, it was Nerhaugen's second taste of defeat while running for mayor; Howe defeated him in 2008. However, the former director of Red Wing's special education program remained in good spirits Tuesday night.
Nerhaugen joked that "at least my neighbors like me" after winning his own precinct, while all but ruling out another run at it in 2012.
"You thank the people who supported and encouraged you," he said. "I wish Dennis and the council well, because there's challenges in every town."