Nickolay elected New Prague Mayor

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

Three new faces were elected to the New Prague City Council on Tuesday.

Chuck Nickolay narrowly won the mayoral race by 27 vote over former city council member Duane Jirik. Current city council member Kristen Guerrette was third with 716 votes.

Nickolay will be joined on the council by David Bruzek and Shawn Ryan. Bruzek topped a four-candidate field with 1,515 votes. Ryan had 995 votes, edging Pat Scripture by 12 votes. Andrea Burkhardsmeier had 528.

Nickolay, Bruzek and Ryan will assume office in January, joining holdover council members Guerrette and Mark Bartusek. Nickolay succeeds W.A. Bink Bender, while Bruzek and Ryan succeed Kay Wilcox and Jim Kratochvil. Wilcox is leaving the council after more than 20 years, while Kratochvil, who previously served eight years, was appointed to a vacant seat in July following the resignation of Ken Betterton.

Bruzek previously served on the council for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Voting was heavy in New Prague, with 2,576 votes cast (1,101 in Le Sueur County and 1,475 in Scott County). Voting was steady most of the day, and the last voter could be seen sprinting from the parking lot to the door two minutes before the polls closed. Another man who was among the last to vote said he just made it home in time to vote after driving for two and a half hours.

Elko New Market

Jason Ponsonby easily won reelection as mayor of Elko New Market, with 817 votes. Laura Piehl was second with 262 votes and John Glynn third with 249. Ken Sulich and Tony Gabriel topped a field of six candidates for the two open council seats in the city in southeastern Scott County. Sulich and Gabriel succeed Jim Friedges and Dennis Melgaard, both longtime council members for New Market and Elko respectively before the cities merged four years ago.


In a five-candidate field, Julie Malecha, Rachel Meger and Mike Pexa were elected to the Heidelberg City Council. Malecha had 42 votes, Meger and Pexa both had 36 vote and Kevin Zvanovec and Ron Weiers both had 28 votes.


Republicans made a clean sweep in area legislative races, holding on to three seats they held and defeating a pair of DFL incumbents, though one of those appears headed for a recount.

In Senate District 25, Al DeKruiff of Elysian won a three-way race over Sen. Kevin Dahle of Northfield and Independent Candidate John Grimm of Montgomery. In District 35, Sen. Claire Robling of Jordan easily turned back Travis Burton, also of Jordan.

In House District 25A, Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe defeated Mick McGuire of Montgomery by 337 votes, while that race was close, it doesn't compare to the race in District 25B, where Kelby Woodard of Belle Plaine edged Rep. David Bly of Northfield by 30 votes. That contest will have an automatic recount. In District 35B, Rep. Mark Buesgens easily won reelection over Jannaya LaFrance of Savage.

The local results were part of a trend that saw the Republican Party take control of both houses of the state legislature for the first time since legislators began caucusing with political parties in the 1970s.

While Minnesota has had a Republican governor and DFL legislature for the last several years, it appears those roles could be reversed. Former Sen. Mark Dayton held a narrow lead over State Rep. Tom Emmer in the race for governor. With all precincts reporting, the lead was about 9,000 votes, which is less than one-half of a percent. That means a mandatory recount will be held for that race. Independence Party Candidate Tom Horner had about 12 percent of the vote.


In county races, both Le Sueur and Scott counties saw incumbent commissioners defeated. However in Scott County District 1, incumbent Joe Wagner of Jordan defeated challenger Jerry Kucera of Shakopee by 512 votes of more than 8,000 cast. Commissioner Jon Ulrich of Savage was also reelected with no challenger, but in the seat representing Shakopee, former Sheriff Dave Menden defeated incumbent Jerry Hennen and will take a seat on the board in January.

In Le Sueur County, two of three commmissioners on the ballot were defeated. Bill Stangler, who represents the southwestern portion of the county, lost to Steve Gump Rohlfing and Bob Culhane, who represents the Waterville-Elysian area, lost to Cliff Wetzel. Joe Connolly, who represents the Le Center-Lexington area, turned back a challenge from former Commissioner Clarence (Clancy) Meger.

County Recorder Sharon Budin, who took office earlier this year after a retirement, was elected to her first full term.

In Rice County Troy Dunn won the election to succeed Richard Cook as sheriff. He defeated Mark Murphy. Incumbent commissioners Galen Malecha and Steven Bauer were reelected.

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