‘It’s not a mandate,’ but Roseville council incumbents win convincingly

Jason Etten

Lisa Laliberte

Following a first for a Roseville City Council campaign — a political party endorsement in the nonpartisan race — voters seemingly signaled their happiness with the direction of the city and re-elected the non-endorsed council incumbents.

Council members Jason Etten and Lisa Laliberte each won a second four-year term on the council, beating DFL-endorsed challenger Wayne Groff in the three-way race.

Each beat Groff by a margin of more than 3,000 votes. Etten, the choir director at Irondale High School in New Brighton, was the top vote-getter with 10,683, or 38 percent of the vote. 

Laliberte, the marketing and communications manager at Minnesota Gastroenterology, P.A., nearly matched him, with 10,173 votes, or 36 percent.

Groff, a 65-year-old real estate agent and chair of the city’s Human Rights Commission, tallied 6,964 votes — 25 percent of the total.

Election results out of Ramsey County were sluggish on Election Night, though they were nearly complete near the end of the evening.

“I was ready to leave my own party at 11 o’clock when everything came up on the internet,” said Etten, 41, who was at Roseville’s Pizza Luce. “There was nothing and then everything came in,” he added. “Not a lot of drama.”

Laliberte, 51, said she gathered with friends, family and supporters at Bent Brewstillery, roughly half a mile from Etten’s party, and waited for the vote totals to come in.

Though it was a hot topic in the “Letters” section of the Review in the weeks leading up to the election, Etten said Groff’s DFL endorsement was not the deciding factor in the race.

“I think the most important thing is that the community was very happy with the direction [of the city], as noted in the survey,” Etten said, alluding to the city’s 2016 survey, which found 95 percent of respondents said the city was headed in the “right direction.”

“They were comfortable with the candidates and endorsements didn’t play a very big role,” he added.

Laliberte said that while out door-knocking she, too, heard positive things about the city. “People are happy with Roseville.”

While she’s unsure exactly what role the endorsement played in the election, Laliberte said when it came up during her interactions with residents, it was met with befuddlement.

“When I was at the doors, if I heard anything, it was, ‘I don’t get it, we don’t need parties in city politics,’” she said, adding she thinks political party positions on issues are largely irrelevant to many city decisions.

Looking ahead, Laliberte and Etten said the big things coming up for the council are planning for future infrastructure investment and redevelopment work, for example, in the Twin Lakes area and southeast Roseville.

Laliberte added the council needs to be able to change its plans, when necessary.

“As our community changes we need to be nimble and ready to make changes as needed,” she said.

Both said they are grateful to voters for keeping them on the council.

“I’m just very happy to be continuing,” Laliberte said. “It’s rewarding. I work hard at it, and I’m ready to continue.”

“I’m excited to keep serving the people of Roseville,” said Etten, who, when asked about his convincing number of votes, said he didn’t think it was a mandate.

“I’m not a big mandate guy — I think it’s important for us to understand we have the support of the community but we have to keep listening,” he said. “It’s not a mandate; it’s a general note of support.”


Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.


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