Newcomers emerge from close races in South St. Paul

There will be two new faces joining the South St. Paul City Council come the new year. 

With current council member Todd Podgorski’s unsuccessful bid for county commissioner, and council member Marilyn Rothecker not running for re-election, there were two open seats on this year’s ballot.

The only incumbent on the ticket, council member Tom Seaberg, will retain his seat after earning roughly 20 percent of the vote.

The open seats will be filled by Sharon Dewey and Joe Kaliszewski, who received 17.67 percent and 17.43 percent of the vote, respectively. 

Kaliszewski previously served on the council from 1989 to 1997. He said when he found out he’d won he did the “Goldsworthy Shuffle,” a dance an old Minnesota North Stars hockey player used to do after making a goal.

Kaliszewski said everyone in South St. Paul is “so dang nice, it’s like nobody’s voting against and everybody is voting for everybody.” He added he was amazed how close and collaborative the whole town is.

Kaliszewski said what helped set himself apart was he “went out and worked.” He said he talked to people, hanging door hangers and signs while meeting parts of the community.

Having served on the council previously, Kaliszewski said his eyes were opened to a lot back then. He said he’s kept in contact with the community, city officials and police and firefighters over the years.

“I made some good connections way back then and still have them. The learning curve will be a lot shorter for getting on board with programming, just day-to-day operations,” he said.

Kaliszewski said he will prioritize having stricter standards for rental housing.

“I want to try to tackle that one and have South St. Paul be a little bit happier community, especially in some neighborhoods,” he said.

Thanking those who voted for him, Kaliszewski said he wants people to know he is approachable and eager to listen. He said he wants to help people with any concerns and issues they have, no matter how small.

Dewey could not be reached for comment.


School board

There was also an election for the South St. Paul School Board. There were four seats on the ballot with 10 candidates running.

Incumbent board members Chris Walker and Wendy Woods Felton held their seats, earning nearly 13 percent and 15 percent of the vote, respectively.

They will be joined by newcomers Linda Diaz, who won 12 percent of the vote, and Bill Arend, who nabbed 11.62 percent.


Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or

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