It was a narrow victory — just 189 votes — but Wendy Webster prevailed over incumbent Randy Stille to become the next mayor of St. Anthony Village. She’ll take office in January, and the City Council will appoint someone to finish her term on the council, which ends in 2026.
Webster said she is “thrilled and honored to be elected as the next mayor.” She said the past three months had been a learning opportunity for her. “I have learned from our community members and recorded what you believe the city does well and how our city can continue to improve. I am committed to a focus on continuous improvement to ensure St. Anthony is a welcoming, inclusive and sustainable place to live and thrive.”
It was a tight race, with Webster eventually capturing 1,441 votes, 53.47% of the vote total, according to Minnesota Secretary of State election night tallies. Stille garnered 46.46%, with a 1,252-vote count.
In a statement to the Northeaster, Stille said, “I have had a privilege over the past 20 years that many have not in their lives … to serve as a council member and mayor in a great city like St. Anthony. I thank residents for the faith and trust they have given me as we worked together to make this community such a wonderful place to live. I cherish the feedback from community members during the campaign, where I heard over and over again, ‘We love it here.’ I congratulate the new leadership and encourage the continued fostering of local nonpartisan government that can best serve all residents.”
The election ends Stille’s 20 consecutive years of service on the City Council. Asked what he will do when he’s no longer presiding at council meetings, Stille replied, “As for what I will do on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, I don’t know.”
The St. Anthony City Council will have one newly elected member next year. Environmental activist Lona Doolan received 34.28% of the vote; she will start her term on the council in January. She campaigned on improving communications with St. Anthony residents and finding creative ways to fund projects without reaching into taxpayers’ pockets.
Incumbent Thomas Randle retained his seat with 27.44%. He was appointed to the St. Anthony City Council in 2017 and won election in his own right in 2019. With Bernard Walker stepping down from the council, he is the sole person of color on the council.
Dave Colling followed close behind Randle with 23.98% of the vote.
Hal Gray, who sought to be elected again to the council after his 2019 loss, trailedbehind, collecting just 14.19%, or 672 votes.
St. Anthony- New Brighton School Board
Three seats on the St. Anthony-New Brighton School Board go to Ben Philip, Laurel Hood and Cassandra Palmer. Votes were roughly evenly divided among the four candidates, with Eric Sonneberg receiving the fewest, 22.39% of the votes, and Philip, the most, at 28.03%. Palmer and Philip are incumbents; Hood will serve beginning in January.
Columbia Heights School Board
Michelle Pettway will head straight back to work on the Columbia Heights School Board. Appointed in 2022 to replace Naty Severson, she won election in her own right with a clear 63.42% majority. The parent of a North Park School student, her previous board experience helped her win the seat.
Cheryl Ekstrand came in second with 26.56%, and Gregg Westerberg garnered just 9.54% of the votes cast.
School referendums passed
Voters in Columbia Heights and St. Anthony Village had the opportunity to vote on school funding referendums. Districts have had to ask for more money because state spending hasn’t kept up with inflation.
Heights voters listened to the school district’s plea and voted to increase per-pupil spending from $308.93 per year to $827. The last time they approved an increase was in 2005. The increase will cost Heights taxpayers an extra $12 per month. A total of 1,662 said “yes” to the increase.
Almost 73% approved a renewal of a $1.9 million capital projects levy that is expected to bring in $19 million over ten years to fund upkeep at the schools.
St. Anthony voters also heeded the call to “vote twice.” Asked to increase per-pupil spending to $890 annually, 66% voted “yes.” The general education levy will be in effect for 10 years and will fund future-focused academic programs, professional development programs for teachers, social-emotional learning for students and staff and the creation of a recruitment and retaining program for staff.
Another 10-year levy received the go-ahead from homeowners, who agreed 2,116 to 861 to allow a 6.198% tax increase. The levy is expected to bring in $9.8 million for capital projects.
Minneapolis City Council
In the Minneapolis City Council races, both representatives for Northeast retained their seats.
Incumbent DFL candidate Elliott Payne was the clear first choice of 89.71% of Ward One voters. Edwin Fruit of the Socialist Workers Party, the only challenger to Payne, was the second choice of 50.3% of the ward’s voters. With the inclusion of the Bottineau neighborhood in Ward One, Payne now has more Northeast constituents.
Michael Rainville’s race against Marcus Mills was a little closer percentage-wise, although he had higher vote totals in all three choice categories. The Northeast native pulled in 5,621 total votes to Mills’ 2,912. With the increase in new apartment dwellers in downtown Minneapolis, Rainville’s Third Ward constituency has changed; he will now represent more downtown and fewer Northeast residents.