Ballots set for Tuesday elections

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Forty-eight hours from now, somebody's going to be upset.

Make that four "somebodys."

The top two vote-getters in each race will be happy. They will see their names on the Tuesday, Nov. 5, general election ballots.

Email newsletter signup

Here are the key local races in Tuesday's primary elections:

Mower County Attorney:

Annual salary $57,991 plus health and life insurance benefits. Four-year term.

Patrick A. Oman, incumbent, is being challenged by Jonathan Olson and Patrick W. Flanagan, who are both Assistant Mower County Attorneys.

Oman was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation in mid-term of Nancy Evans and re-elected twice to new terms.

Olson is the chief deputy prosecutor in the Mower County Attorney's office.

Flanagan is the new "kid on the block," having joined the Mower County Attorney's staff the spring of 2001, when he was first hired as a special prosecutor. Except for a brief return to private practice, Flanagan has been a full-time assistant county attorney since September 2001.

Olson has 3 1/2 years experience as an Assistant Mower County Attorney --

and name recognition and has earned kudos for his efforts in the courtroom.

Flanagan has law enforcement on his side. Mower County Sheriff Barry J. Simonson and Austin Police Chief Paul M. Philipp are taking sides in this race. Both serve as co-chairs of Flanagan's election committee, which also includes other veteran officers and Grand Meadow Police Chief Jim Richardson.

Oman has been an attorney for 18 years and a Mower County Attorney (or assistant) for 14 years. His main strength, he said, is his ability to handle high-profile jury cases.

Tuesday is only the first half of a race that will surely grow in intensity as Nov. 5 draws nearer.

Mower County Sheriff:

Annual salary $54,424 plus health and life insurance benefits. Four-year term.

Barry J. Simonson rode to victory eight years ago as an Austin Police Department officer.

His work as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer made him a household name locally and enabled him to upset 16-year veteran Mower County Sheriff Wayne P. Goodnature.

Four years later, he defeated Goodnature's law enforcement ally, Rocky Schammel, a deputy from Rose Creek.

When Simonson announced his retirement at the end of the current term, he also announced his personal choice for a successor: Chief Deputy Terese Amazi.

Cherney gives Mower County voters an option of a candidate with experience from the out-county area. Clennon has said he has the confidence to "take charge" with difficult situations or decisions.

Mower County Commissioner:

Annual salary $20,000 plus health and life insurance benefits. Four-year term. 4th District includes all of city of Austin's Third Ward.

Len Miller, the incumbent, was first elected to the 4th District in 1994. Four years later, Austin's Dick Lang ran against him and lost by only 40 votes.

Now, Miller faces his political nemesis once again.

However, Donna J. Olson is also on the ballot and this casts a new wrinkle to this race. The Mower County Board hasn't had a female member since Mary Keenan in 1990.

State Senate District 27:

Annual salary $31,000, plus group health and life insurance benefits. District 27 includes all of Freeborn, Mower counties, plus a portion of Fillmore County.

Grace Schwab upset incumbent Pat Piper two years ago to win election to the Minnesota Senate, when District 27 was comprised of Freeborn and Mower counties.

Now, redistricting has pushed the district's eastern border to Preston in Fillmore County.

Schwab and Dan Sparks, an Austin DFLer, have their parties' endorsements.

Terry Kelley, a former television news anchor, and Jennifer LeeAnn Ney will seek the voters' endorsement Tuesday in hopes of seeing their name on the November general election ballots, representing the Independence Party.

Also facing Tuesday primary election voters in Mower County is the race for Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Incumbent Justice Paul H. Anderson is being challenged by Jack Baker and Allan W. Lampkin.

The Mower County attorney, sheriff and county commissioner races are considered non-partisan contests in Tuesday's primary election.

However, there are contests on the ballots for state partisan races for a variety of positions in the GOP, DFL, Independence and Green parties.

Austin voting precincts:

Voters in the city of Austin will go to the polls 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to Lucy Johnson, city of Austin recorder.

Sixty election judges completed training and were certified for accuracy in operating the city's optical scan voting machines Wednesday night. Eight usually work a primary election and all 10, general elections.

Except for short morning and afternoon breaks and dinner breaks, the election judges work from 6 a.m. to whenever dismissed at the end of voting. That could be an hour after polls close, making it a 15-hour day.

As of the latest registration period (Aug. 20), there were 11,374 voters in the city of Austin.

Voters may also register on Tuesday, primary election day, providing they have the appropriate identification: Driver's license, photo ID, student ID and a current utility bill are among the forms of valid identification required to register to vote.

Johnson is predicting a 40 percent voter turnout Tuesday.

Mower County voting precincts:

Voting hours in all Mower County precincts Tuesday are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

As of the last reporting period, there were a total of

20,108 voters in Mower County.Less Austin's 11,374, that leaves 8,734.

There are 20 township voting precincts and 13 municipal voting precincts in Mower County, according to Mower County Auditor Woody Vereide, who with his staff, supervises the state primary election.

This year, the most immediate results Tuesday night may be available on the Minnesota Secretary of State's web site, where they will be immediately posted by the county auditor's staff, when the ballots are returned from each voting precinct in the county and certified by the auditor.

That web site is

With a minimum of eight election judges at each voting precinct, that means 264 citizens have volunteered their time and skills to supervise the most basic exercise in citizenship Tuesday. With 10 per precinct, the total rises to over 300 people, plus those in the city of Austin, who underwent training, to be election judges.

All polls close 8 p.m., but opening times vary in the county. Times and instructions are posted on main entrances to each township, municipal hall.

Voting precincts in all out-county precincts include city halls, council rooms and community buildings in each community.

Each of the municipal voting precincts opens 7 a.m. Tuesday for voters. Starting times for township voting precincts varies from 7 a.m.

to 10


Voting oddity

In totaling up the number of registered voters in Mower County, the county auditor' staff the count of votes of last name initial.

The computer search revealed there are more people with the last name, beginning with an "S" than any other letter of the alphabet: 2,166.

The second most popular last name among registered voters begins with the letter "H," 1,793, with those beginning with the letter "B," finishing third with 1,788.

The fewest number of registered voters have last names beginning with "Q", 71, and

"Z", 92.

No last names of registered voters in Mower County begin with the letter "X."

For more information about voting call the Austin municipal building (437-9959) or the Mower County Auditor's office (437-9535.)

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at