The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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Election 2012

October 25, 2012

Mankato councilwoman challenged by write-in candidate

MANKATO — While congressional and legislative races have contrasts baked into the two-party system, it can be harder to differentiate nonpartisan City Council candidates. Opposing candidates often say similar things about wanting to balance the budget while maintaining core services.

In Ward 2, though, voters can see some sunlight between incumbent Tamra Rovney and Dennis Dieken, who is waging a write-in campaign.

Dieken said he wouldn’t have voted for the construction of a $1.48 million airport building this summer, which Rovney voted for. He said he wouldn’t have supported it “without more insurance that it would, indeed, be used.”

The council voted 5-2 for the hangar in hopes an airport business would help make the airport sustainable in the long term.

While Rovney voted in August to oppose the gay marriage amendment, Dieken said it’s not the city’s business.

To Rovney, the issue with the amendment is less about gay marriage and more about using the state constitution to reduce minority rights. She would oppose any such constitutional amendment, she said.

Dieken said the proposed expansion to the Verizon Wireless Center should be put to a citywide vote. Rovney, along with the rest of the City Council, has not advocated such a vote.

Rovney called the expansion “very important” for local business, for Minnesota State University and for the city. “It’s a big partnership.”

Rovney is seeking a third term on the council; Dieken is making his first run for public office.

Dieken’s name won’t be on the ballot because he didn’t file during the two-week filing period in late May and early June. He said he forgot to file because he believed Mankato used the later filing period, in August. Cities without primaries use the later filing dates.

Rovney, who was unopposed in 2008, said she’s not taking the challenge lightly.

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Election 2012