St. Anthony City Council incumbents hold seats in tight race


Challenger calls for recount


It’s been a year of change in St. Anthony since the summer of 2016, when Philando Castille was killed by a St. Anthony police officer and Lowry Grove residents were told they’d have to leave their homes. 

In the intervening time between then and Nov. 7’s St. Anthony City Council election, council chambers have been packed during meetings with residents and activist groups, calling for city government to engage and be more transparent.

Following the noncompetitive 2015 council election, six candidates, including two incumbents, campaigned for two seats on the council this year. It appeared 2017’s abundance of challengers was a response to a desire for new city leadership after a tumultuous year. 

By a razor-thin margin, though, St. Anthony voters expressed a desire to keep city leadership the same. Incumbent council members Randy Stille and Jan Jenson held onto their seats. Stille, who’s been on the council for 14 years, lead all candidates with 28 percent of the vote. 

The difference in vote count between Jenson and challenger Nancy Robinett was within a single percentage point. Jenson, who’s been on the council for eight years, received 23.38 percent of the vote. Robinett trails with 22.96 percent, a margin of only 18 votes. 

“I already called Ramsey County and initiated a request for recount,” said Robinett the morning after the election. “I owe it to the voters to ask for a recount.”

A recount occurs if a losing candidate requests one within 48 hours. The State Canvassing Board then puts eligible ballots through its recount process and announces a winner. 

Robinett said she is not ready to concede and that she needs assurance, but that if she ultimately loses by one or two votes, she will respect the final result. She added that the voting support she received is from a “huge contingent of St. Anthony” that has expressed a “sense of wanting a progressive.”

Dave Colling received 19 percent of the vote.

Stille said his reelection shows the city made a “demand for continuity” and “staying the course.” He noted that the issue of racial equity factored greatly in the election, and that making racial issues a priority has been a learning experience. “We all have to learn,” Stille said. “We’ve identified as a community that we have to learn and understand and evolve. Not change — evolve.”

Stille said bringing the community together — he called it the “elephant in the room” — and coming up with a shared, communal vision for the Lowry Grove site are his top priorities headed into his new term.

Jenson couldn’t be reached for comment. Regardless of the results of the recount, the city council is guaranteed a new member. There is still an open seat that was created by council member Bonnie Brever’s resignation in August — it will be filled either by a special election, or appointment.

 Randy Stille

 Jan Jenson

– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at or 651-748-7815.

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