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Results & reactions: Who's been elected to represent Savage residents

Savage's city government won't see any changes, and a longtime Republican State Senator has been ousted, according to unofficial election local results released Wednesday. 

Scott County Auditor Cindy Geis confirmed Tuesday evening that Scott County's unofficial results include all votes cast via absentee, early voting or Election Day voting before polls closed.

It's unclear how many absentee ballots are still missing from Dakota County's unofficial results.

"Dakota County’s unofficial vote results include polling place results and some absentee ballots," the county posted to Twitter on Tuesday night. "Not all absentee ballots are included in the count."

Absentee ballots received after Election Day are set aside and not currently included in results. The courts and the Secretary of State's office will determine whether those ballots will be included in the complete official results.

Here's what unofficial results say about who's been elected to represent Savage residents: 

Savage Mayor and City Council

Savage Mayor Janet Williams and incumbent city council members have won their re-election bids, according to unofficial results released early Wednesday morning.

With roughly 67% of votes, Williams is set to serve a fourth consecutive term as mayor. Challenger Kim Holler earned roughly 32% of votes.

Council members Christine Kelly and Matt Johnson also pulled ahead of newcomer challengers vying for a seat on Savage's four-member council.

Kelly, a councilor since 2008, grabbed nearly 38% of votes and Johnson, first elected in 2016, earned roughly 25%.

Defeated newcomer candidates were Jason Blom, Brian Ewoldt and William 'Bill' Marx who took roughly 16%, 11% and 9% of votes, respectively.

The seats currently held by council members Bob Coughlen, first elected in 2018, and Gene Abbott, first elected in 2006, will be up for election in 2022.

"I'm excited to continue and I'm pleased that our team, that I think is a good one, will be working together," Williams said Wednesday. "I see great things ahead for Savage yet." 

Prior Lake-Savage School Board

While three of the seven Prior Lake-Savage School Board candidates campaigned together, it was a different trio that lead the polls.

Incumbent Mary Frantz and newcomers Julie Bernick and Amy Crosby were elected to serve four-year terms.

Amy Crosby received the most votes with 11,551, or 20.75% of the votes.

She said she was grateful for the community’s overwhelming support.

"I’m excited to move forward in a collaborative and productive way, and will strive to be what our PLSAS community needs,” Crosby said.

Bernick received 10,709 votes, or roughly 19% of votes. She is looking forward to serving PLSAS and working with the other board members for the good of the students.

“We have a great Laker community filled with amazing people who believe in giving our children the best education possible,” Bernick said.

Frantz received 10,206 votes, approximately 18% of all votes.

Frantz was humbled and grateful that so many ballots were cast in her favor. She plans to continue to bring a sense of independence to the board.

“I ran on the fact that I have a mind of my own and I also have a lot of financial knowledge. I’ve been involved in education for many, many years and probably the only member of the board that has experience outside of Prior Lake-Savage with other school districts in both Minnesota and other states so I have a fairly balanced understanding of how school districts are run, so I can bring that perspective to the table,” Frantz said.

A board member's main duty is to act as a conduit among the community and district so “community support is paramount,” she added.

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School Board 

Partial, unofficial elections results reported late Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning show who's pulling ahead in the race for three seats on the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District School Board.

Votes tallied so far show incumbent Eric Miller leading and on his way to a second term. Miller, a Savage resident, currently serves as the board's vice chair.

At least two of the three seats up for grabs on the board will go to newcomers; DeeDee Currier, a school board member since 2008, and Darcy Schatz, elected in 2016, did not seek re-election.

The four newcomers vying for seats are Burnsville residents Hodan Ahmed, Toni Connor, Suad (Sue) Said and Anna Werb.

As of early Wednesday morning, Werb and Conner had pulled ahead with roughly 25% and 22% of votes, respectively.

The school board is currently chaired by Abigail Alt.

Alt was appointed in 2013, elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018.

Voters in 2018 also elected then-newcomers Jen Holweger, Scott Hume and Lesley Chester to the board.

Holweger resigned last month, and the board is currently seeking applicants from residents interested in being appointed to her position until a special election can be held to formally fill the vacancy.

Scott County Board

Voters re-elected Barb Weckman Brekke and Tom Wolf to the Scott County Board of Commissioners after double-digit wins over their respective challengers, according to unofficial election results early Wednesday from the Minnesota Secretary of State.

Commissioner Dave Beer was also re-elected to District 4, which covers parts of Prior Lake and Shakopee, after running unopposed. Beer earned 13,651 votes in unofficial results.

Weckman Brekke returns to represent District 1 for a second term with a focus on "transformational change."

"I've been honored and privileged to serve the last four years and I look forward to continuing to do so. Scott County is a great place, I've lived here all my life and care about it. I'm going to work with folks to make it a great place to live and continue to do business," said Weckman Brekke, whose district includes Jordan, Belle Plain, parts of Shakopee and New Prague, and the townships of Belle Plaine, Blakeley, Helena, Jackson, Louisville, St. Lawrence and Sand Creek.

Tom Wolf, whose sat on the board since 2009, returns to represent District 2, which covers Elko New Market, parts of Prior Lake and the townships of Cedar Lake, Credit River, New Market and Spring Lake.

"We worked really hard, any victory is a nice victory," Wolf said. "My opponent worked really hard. It's a tough race, but I've been campaigning a long time."

Wolf said his top priority is helping Scott County residents navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

"We've got to get our county back running 100%. That's number one," he said.

Wolf won with 9,852 votes, or 68.57% of the votes, to challenger Margaret "Marty" Pleasant's 4,451 votes with all precincts reporting, in unofficial results. Pleasant, who owns and manages a Bloomington-based IT consulting firm, ran a campaign focused on lowering taxes and supporting small businesses.

"I want to thank my husband, all who voted for me and everyone who helped me with my campaign," Pleasant said. "I did not run for myself, but to be a conservative voice and choice for the people and businesses of Scott County."

Weckman Brekke won with 8,197 votes, or 57.02% of votes, to former county commissioner Joe Wagner's 6,107 votes with all precincts reporting, in unofficial results.

Wagner previously represented District 1 for 18 years before losing to Weckman Brekke in 2016. Wagner relocated to Shakopee in 2018 and launched an unsuccessful bid for the District 3 seat to Commissioner Michael Beard.

Senate District 56

Democrat Lindsey Port defeated longtime incumbent Sen. Dan Hall in the race for Minnesota Senate District 56, according to unofficial elections results released Wednesday. 

Port earned roughly 53% of votes; pulling ahead of Hall by just over 3,000 votes.

"I believe that we are strongest when we are connected, when we see and hear each other's stories, and when we all have a seat at the table," Port stated in a social media post Wednesday. "Our campaign was always about a vision for Minnesota that works for everyone, and our community came together to work towards that future."

Port, 38, is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Blueprint Campaigns. She lives in Burnsville with her husband, Steve, and their two school-aged children. 

"I am humbled and honored to have earned your support and trust to lead," Port continued. "Thank you. To my family and my team. To the volunteers across our community who had countless conversations with our neighbors. To the truly diverse coalition that worked so incredibly hard to fight for a Minnesota that works for us all. Thank you."

Port campaigned for the House District 56B seat in 2016, but narrowly lost to former Republican incumbent Rep. Roz Peterson. 

In 2018, freshman democratic lawmakers were elected to both House District 56A and 56B, but Hall, first elected in 2010, hung onto the district's Senate seat. 

"I was of course shocked at the results," Hall said Wednesday afternoon. "We felt we did everything right and it was surprising, but I know that God puts people in and takes people out and I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to get involved with something else." 

Port's win wasn't enough to help DFL'ers flip the Senate's GOP majority — two of the state's seats were flipped blue while two others flipped red. 

Hall said he called Port to congratulate her, and tell her how much he appreciated her campaign. 

"We both worked hard and played fair and she just won," he said. 

He probably won't return to politics after a decade in office, he said, but added he'll be taking the next month to think and pray over his decision. 

"As a former Christian minister, I may go back into some type of ministry," he said. 

House District 56A 

Burnsville resident Jess Hanson defeated Republican Pam Myhra in the race to represent Savage and northwest Burnsville in the Minnesota House of Representatives District 56A seat. 

"It's really exciting," Hanson said Wednesday. "We saw our community turn out in ways that we've never seen before."

Hanson, 34 of Burnsville, is a single mother of two school-aged children; she currently works as a Dental Network Sr. Representative for Anthem, Inc. and is pursuing a master's degree in advocacy and political leadership at Metropolitan State University. 

On Wednesday, Hanson said the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare affordability, education equity and government responsibility are among her top priorities.

"I am so honored to have been able to serve as our community's state representative!" Cantrell said in a Tweet on Wednesday. "Rep.-elect Jess Hanson is thoughtful, dedicated, and unafraid to take on the tough fights to secure a better quality of life for all of us. Jess, I am so proud of you!"

Myhra conceded Wednesday morning stating in a Tweet: "Congratulations to Jess Hanson on her victory as State Representative for the City of Savage and the NW corner of Burnsville." 

"I’m very grateful for the strong reception I received in the community, for the 12,000+ votes, and the hard work of tremendous volunteers," Myhra wrote in an email to the Savage Pacer.

Reporter Trinity Carey contributed to this report. 

Correction: A previous version of this story inaccurately stated that Savage Mayor Janet Williams has been elected to serve a fifth term as Mayor. Williams began serving as Mayor in 2008 after one term as a Savage City Council member. She is currently serving an additional term year alongside the Savage City Council in order to align with Scott County's even-year municipal elections. She will begin her fourth consecutive term as Mayor in 2021. 


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Onslaught of absentee ballots slow election results in Scott County (copy)

The evening of Tuesday, Nov. 3 became a long night for Scott County candidates and residents waiting to find out who would fill open positions for the coming term.

Most precincts in Scott County, including races for city, school board, county and congressional positions, did not release results until after midnight.

Scott County Auditor Cindy Geis said there are a couple of reasons the counting of votes took longer in 2020 than in years past.

Multiple ballot drop-off locations throughout the county allowed voters to remain spread out in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, both early voting and on Election Day.

“We got nailed yesterday with drop-offs,” Geis said Wednesday. “Like, nailed.”

Scott County elections officials got about 1,500 ballots that came in from these drop-off sites that needed to be processed and approved by the Ballot Board Tuesday afternoon. Geis said it was almost 7 p.m. Tuesday by the time these ballots were ready to begin being opened and recorded by county staff.

In some counties, there was a cut-off day for dropping off absentee ballots, and voters who did not do so before Election Day would need to instead vote in-person at the polls.

Scott County allowed absentee ballot drop-off through Election Day, which meant there was an “onslaught” coming in at the last minute, Geis said.

The county has two days post-election to process absentee ballots received by Election Day. Scott County officials chose to stay and process 100% of those ballots received in-house on Tuesday.

“Usually on Election Day we barely receive any absentee ballots beyond what comes in the mail, which is usually very light by Tuesday,” Geis said Wednesday. “We’re usually standing around just waiting to close our absentee polls after they are 100% counted. Not yesterday. Yesterday, we were still processing because of the drop-offs.”

Long lines

In addition to the counting of more drop-off absentee ballots than usual, election staff across the county were seeing long lines, especially in “huge precincts” like Credit River, Geis said.

There were some other snags with in-person voting — social-distancing requirements made lines so long that in one instance, they trickled out into the street, making driving around the polling location hazardous.

Geis also said some voters used their own ink pens rather than felt-tip pens on voting scanners, which made it so that Scott County staff had to take time to wipe down the equipment.

Still, this year marked a record turnout for Scott County voters, Geis said.

Voter turnout in Scott County was 94%, well above the state average of 76%.

“This number is an anomaly and it is unheard of in our county,” said Geis.

Despite all of its moving parts, Geis said she is proud of how the cities helped administrate this year’s election, and she’s heard positive feedback from voters so far on the flexibility the multiple drop-off locations provided.

“I think our readers and our voters are getting out to vote and taking advantage of all the options that we had to be able to cast their ballot in whatever fashion they choose,” said Geis.

As of Wednesday morning, the Scott County had a little over 2,800 ballots outstanding. Geis said they’re assuming half of those people went to the polls in-person, so those ballots won’t be returned, but they always have in the hundreds that never return their ballots “for one reason or another.”

Absentee ballots that were postmarked on or before Election Day have a 7-day grace period to be received and counted. Geis says they received about 30 yesterday, and expect to see a few more trickling in. Those ballots that are received before next Tuesday will be counted and processed, and the Minnesota Secretary of State election results website will reflect those updates sometime next week.