Eden Prairie Mayor Ron Case was reelected to a second term by voters on Tuesday, decisively beating Tracey Schowalter.
For the two open council seats, incumbents Kathy Nelson and Mark Freiberg also conclusively fended off challengers Micah Olson and Greg Lehman.
Case, Freiberg and Nelson’s new four-year terms begin in January.
According to unofficial vote results, Case received 19,054 votes, or 69.33% of the total ballots cast for mayor in the city’s 20 precincts, while Schowalter received 8,364 votes, or 30.43%.
And, according to the unofficial vote results for the council, Nelson received 15,109 votes, or 35.54% of the total ballots cast for council, while Freiberg received 13,609 votes, or 32.01%. Olson came in third with 7,544 votes, or 17.75%, while Lehman came in fourth with 6,131 votes, or 14.42%.
The results of the two races will be canvassed at the Tuesday, Nov. 15, City Council meeting.
Case, who has served 26 years on the Eden Prairie City Council, the last four as mayor, said in August he was running for reelection to continue the “good work” being done by the city.
He stated in the EPLN Voter Guide that he wanted to expand the “positive trajectory” Eden Prairie is currently on, citing, among other things, its strong tax base, low taxes, park and trail system, and “amazingly” high resident and business quality of life survey scores.
“It feels great personally, and it feels validating of what we’re doing in terms of the city council and the way we are representing the people,” Case said after learning of his victory.
At the Tuesday night election party for U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips and other DFL candidates, Case was asked what was in store for the city’s government during the next four years.
“We’re on a great trajectory right now and the journey that we’re on is going so well,” Case said. “There are initiatives and projects that we started that I would love to continue: affordable housing, climate action plan, systemic racism study, so there’s things that we will continue on. We have a council that has representation from various political parties, Republican, Democrat, Independent. But we come together in this common belief that we do really good things in Eden Prairie.”
Schowalter, a political newcomer, wrote in an email Wednesday that she is thankful for the experience of running for office in so many ways.
“I’ve met many amazing people and I want them to know that regardless of the outcome of the election, we never give up fighting for what we believe in,” she stated. “This won’t be the last Eden Prairie hears from me. I will continue to hold our elected officials accountable and motivate the people to stand up for themselves.”
She offered “good luck to the council on your wins as the people of EP are waking up and will make sure you are doing your job — for the people. City government exists for the people as well as businesses, not the other way around.”
Nelson, first elected in 2006, is finishing her fourth term on the council. She ran for a fifth term saying that she wants, among other things, for the city to keep its current level of services, continue its sensible tax structure, and support long-range planning and innovation to lower city costs.
“People do seem very definitely to like the direction this council is moving in, which isn’t too surprising because Eden Prairie is a pretty nice place to live,” Nelson said after learning of her victory. “I was humbled by all the people who voted for me. It’s a validation but I work hard to keep things nice for people, and the fact that they appreciate it, everybody likes that.”
Freiberg, who was first elected to the council in 2018, said in August that he was running for a second term “because there is definitely some unfinished business and a desire to continue to make a difference in the people’s live I serve.”
“I think what it shows is that people recognize the experience that we have, and actually how we work together as a team in terms of governing,” Freiberg said of the three incumbents winning reelection. “You don’t see infighting, you see collaboration as needed to give and take for the greater good.”
Olson serves as the greater Minnesota outreach director for the Center of the American Experiment and owns a consulting business. Among the reasons that motivated him to give was to give a voice to the new and young residents of Eden Prairie.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to run,” Olson said in an email statement Tuesday. “Eden Prairie is an incredible community. I am so thankful for those who have supported me. I look forward to continuing to contribute where I can, work with our city leaders and work to build trust.”
Lehman said he sees serving on the council as his way of giving back to the community through service. Elected to the school board in November 2015, he did not serve his full four-year term, resigning to move out of state for family reasons. He was replaced by an appointed board member in January 2017.
Jeff Strate contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Wednesday morning with comments from Tracy Schowalter, and additional comments from Ron Case.
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