Evan Smith: Perspectives on LFP’s election

Sunday, December 6, 2009

By Evan Smith 
ShorelineAreaNews Politics Writer

Lake Forest Park voters picked a combination of experience and new blood for their City Council, Councilman Don Fiene told me Friday.

Fiene was elected unopposed in the November election.

Fiene and Councilwoman Sandy Koppenol will be the experienced Council members.

Koppenol gave up her current position; then challenged and defeated Councilman Alan Kiest.

The new blood comes from John Wright, who defeated Jean Thomas for the position that Koppenol now holds and from Bob Lee who defeated Tom French for the position now held by retiring Councilman Donovan Tracy.

Fiene said that the Council would miss Kiest’s positive contributions and his institutional memory.

Fiene added that the Council would miss Tracy’s positive influence in keeping the Council on track, representing citizens against government overregulation and requiring the administration to justify its policies and its performance.

Fiene said that Koppenol’s victory gives her a chance to continue to grow as a Council member. He said that Koppenol’s ability to send more mailings than Kiest was the reason that she beat Kiest by a decisive margin.

Fiene said that Lee’s close victory over French may have come down to French’s having to miss the final campaign forum a due to his father’s death.

He said that Wright defeated Thomas because Wright’s record of community service meant more than Thomas’s lead in fundraising and her backing from the 32nd District Democrats.

Koppenol said that her campaign against Kiest had focused on the future, particularly quality-of-life issues and preserving and enhancing the environment.

She said Saturday that she and Kiest both ran on their voting records, and the citizens made a choice.

“There was little difference in the funds that our campaigns raised,” she said. “I believe that we both campaigned hard to the very end.”

Koppenol added, “Mr. Kiest has been a hardworking council member for 20 years and I have respect for his dedicated service to our city.”

Koppenol said that she expects the new council to focus on continued improvements and efficiencies to city services.

“We will be finding ways to implement our Legacy Plan, we need to adopt a revised tree ordinance that preserves our trees without encumbering our citizens, and we need improvements to our economic base and transportation options in the city,” she said. “As we slowly begin our climb out of the financial crisis, the council will have to look forward to provide for long-term financial stability for our city government.”

Wright had finished second to Thomas in the August primary, but then got the endorsement of Chuck Paulsen, who had finished third in the primary.

Wright attributed his victory to outworking Thomas and said that Paulsen’s support had been important because of Paulsen’s record of community involvement, including service on several City commissions.

Wright said that he hopes that the Council will hold the line on taxes and that he plans to avoid being part of any faction.

Paulsen said that he thought that part of the reason that Wright beat Thomas was that Thomas’s campaign message was obscured because many voters resented her backing from the 32nd District Democrats.

Paulsen attributed Koppenol’s victory over Kiest to Kiest’s being viewed as an obstructionist.

“Although I appreciate and admire Alan for his long service on the council I think he lost touch with the community,” he said.

Paulsen said that, although he expected the people elected in November to support Mayor Dave Hutchinson, they wouldn’t be yes-men or yes-women.

As for his own future, Paulsen said, “I will continue to serve the community as a member of the planning commission and the Legacy task force, and anything else that the community would like.”

Post a Comment

We encourage the thoughtful sharing of information and ideas. We expect comments to be civil and respectful, with no personal attacks or offensive language. We reserve the right to delete any comment.

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP