Blue Earth County Sheriff Brad Peterson, foreground, and Nicollet County Sheriff Dave Lange are both seeking re-election in 2018. For Peterson, it would be his seventh four-year term and he's never been opposed for re-election.File photo

MANKATO -- The first day of the candidate filing period offered plenty of news. Six-term Blue Earth County Sheriff Brad Peterson is seeking a seventh term; Mankato and North Mankato already have competitive legislative races; every county position on the ballot in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties has a candidate; the Mankato City Council has contenders for every seat except mayor and enough candidates in Ward 3 to require a primary election.

And there are still another 13 days for citizens to decide to jump into races during the filing period for state, county and some city elections.


Both St. Peter City Council member Jeff Brand and former North Mankato City Council member Kim Spears have filed in District 19A to replace Rep. Clark Johnson, DFL-North Mankato. Johnson announced earlier this year he is retiring to spend more time with his family.

Spears, a Republican, has unsuccessfully challenged Johnson twice before. Brand, a Democrat, has served two terms on the St. Peter City Council.

Mankato Republican Joe Steck filed Tuesday to run against Rep. Jack Considine, DFL-Mankato.

In District 23B, Minnesota State University professor Jim Grabowska filed to run as a Democrat against Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal. Grabowska lives in St. Clair.

Munson won his seat in a February special election after former Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, resigned last November in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Minnesota's state senators aren't up for re-election until 2020.

Blue Earth County

Sheriff Peterson's tenure will reach 28 years if he's elected to his seventh term. After upsetting incumbent Sheriff LaRoy Wiebold in 1994, Peterson has not had an opponent in any of his re-elections.

As long as the sheriff has served, County Commissioner Colleen Landkamer was already in her second second term on the County Board when Peterson was first elected. After a decade away from the board, Landkamer is looking to return, filing to replace Commissioner Drew Campbell in District 1, while Commissioner Vance Stuehrenberg has filed for re-election in District 2.

Landkamer was on the Board from 1988 to 2009 before she was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as the state's director for rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Campbell announced earlier this year he wasn't seeking re-election in District 1.

Stuehrenberg has served on the board for eight years and is seeking his third term.

First-term County Attorney Pat McDermott also filed for re-election.

Nicollet County

Incumbents have filed for several Nicollet County seats while an open commissioner's race has brought one candidate so far.

Chuck Zieman, mayor of St. Peter, filed for the District 2 Nicollet County commissioner seat.

Zieman is in his second two-year term as mayor after being a councilman for four years.

He is retired and previously worked in the Nicollet County Assessor’s Office for 16 years. Zieman has a business administration degree from the University of Minnesota.

Jim Stenson, who has been the District 2 commissioner since 1999, is not running for re-election. The district includes Brighton, Granby, Oshawa townships and St. Peter Ward 2 precincts 1 and 2.

Jack Kolars filed for re-election for the District 4 board seat. Kolars has been a commissioner since 1997. The district includes North Mankato Precincts 4, 5 and 6.

County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer, Recorder Kathy Conlon and Sheriff Dave Lange all filed for re-election on Tuesday.


Veteran Mankato Council members Karen Foreman, Ward 1, and Mark Frost, Ward 3, filed for re-election Tuesday, and local insurance agent Jessica Hatanpa is seeking to replace Council member Trudy Kunkel, who is not seeking another term serving in Ward 5.

Frost already has two challengers — Fardousa Jama and Aronn Oakland — meaning voters will narrow the race to two finalists in an Aug. 14 primary election. A pharmacist who is the council's longest-serving member, Frost is seeking a fifth four-year term.

Oakland was elected to the City Council in his hometown of Brownsdale in 2012, but a job transfer the following year brought him to Mankato where he works as security manager at Target.

Jama and her father Hussein Jama operate the Somali Community Barwaaqo Organization which, among other services, helps Somalis navigate medical trips and other aspects of day-to-day life made difficult by language gaps.

Ward 3 covers the southern portion of the city from Stoltzman Road to Highway 22 and includes Minnesota State University.

Foreman, a retired Minnesota State University employee, has served two terms representing Ward 1, which is made up of east-side neighborhoods along Balcerzak Drive, Hoffman Road and Main Street.

Kunkel is finishing her lone term in west Mankato's Ward 5. Hatanpa, 36, was the sole candidate to jump into the Ward 5 race on the first day of filing.

A lifelong resident of the Mankato area, Hatanpa is a graduate of West High School and MSU. In a news release announcing her candidacy, Hatanpa noted her community involvement including with the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota and on the board of the Junior Achievement and Educare Foundation.

She said she was looking to bring "a fresh perspective to the city" and that her goal is "keeping Mankato on a successful path while implementing new strategies to encourage more community involvement ... ."

Mankato's mayoral seat is the only one that didn't attract a candidate on opening day of the filing period, which ends at 5 p.m. on June 5. Two-term incumbent Eric Anderson has been encouraging Mankatoans to consider running for the city's top elected position since early May and officially announced he won't seek another term on May 14.

There was less activity in the handful of other cities in the Mankato area that use the early filing period for their elections.

In Mapleton, Mayor John Hollerich filed for re-election, but there were no first-day candidates for the two council seats on the ballot. In Amboy, Lake Crystal and New Ulm, where the mayoral post and two council seats are on the ballot in each, there were no filings reported by the Minnesota Secretary of State.

The current filing period is used by cities that utilize the primary election to pare multiple candidates for each seat down to two. The vast majority of Minnesota cities allow multiple candidates to appear on the general election ballot for each seat and will have a 2018 filing period that runs from July 31 to Aug. 14. (Except for the small percentage of cities, such as St. Peter, which hold municipal elections in odd-numbered years.)

U.S. House

Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn has filed to run against North Mankato Democrat Dan Feehan to replace U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-1st District, as southern Minnesota's Congressman. Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, is also expected to file and challenge Hagedorn in a GOP primary in August.

Hagedorn has twice run against Walz and narrowly lost to him in 2016.

The 2018 general election, which will be headlined in Minnesota by the contests for governor and both U.S. Senate seats, will be held on Nov. 6.

Staff writers Trey Mewes and Tim Krohn contributed to this story.

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