by Dennis Dalman
Longtime Sartell City Council member David Peterson announced Tuesday he intends to file for mayor in the Nov. 6 general election.
Sarah Jane Nicoll is the current Sartell mayor but she has announced that she will not seek re-election.
On that day, voters will decide three positions on the council: mayor, Peterson’s seat and Pat Lynch’s seat. The other council members are Mike Chisum and Ryan Fitzthum, both elected in the last election.
All open positions are for four-year terms. If there are more than two candidates for a position, a primary election in August will narrow the slate to two candidates.
Peterson said he had been thinking off and on about the possibility of vying for the mayor position. Since his council seat will be over this year, he decided why not try for the mayor’s position?
A 12-year council member, Peterson was first elected to his first of three terms in 2006. He is employed at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System in its human resources office and is also an attorney and a member of the Minnesota National Guard. He served two tours of duty overseas, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. In the latter country, he used his legal skills to teach the rule of law to judges, prosecutors and police officers.
Peterson said he is deeply concerned about economic stability in Sartell. Two crises, he said, were reminders to the city of how precarious economic stability can be – the explosion and shutting down of the city’s paper mill, which was an economic bedrock; and the nationwide recession that began in 2008. Both, he said, were ongoing concerns.
He added that fortunately teamwork saved the day – teamwork by the council, the city departments, the city employees, the city administrator/financial director and others. Working together, they tightened the budget, kept things in check, and their teamwork, Peterson added, was rewarded with a series of glowing reports annually from an independent financial auditor. If elected mayor, Peterson said he wants to help maintain those strengths.
He is also a strong believer in partnerships with other entities, such as the school system, other cities and service organizations.
“The goal,” he said, “is the best bang for the dollar for the residents. As a team, we have to work together with foresight as to how to move forward. One person can’t do that alone. It must be a team. Teamwork.”
Infrastructure needs are an ongoing challenge, Peterson said, adding it’s sometimes very difficult to choose one road over another for construction and/or repair. And once a road is built or improved, there is always the cost, which tends to be expensive, of maintaining those roads, not to mention the water and sewer systems.
Born in Brainerd, Peterson grew up in Fargo, N.D. He moved to the St. Cloud area 14 years ago to work in the Stearns County Attorney’s Office. For years, he and his family lived on the east side of Sartell but moved about a year ago to the west side, near the site of the new high school. His son, Devon, 17, will be among the last class to graduate from the “old” high school; his daughter, Lauren, 16, will be in the first class to graduate from the new high school.
Kristina, Peterson’s wife, works as a paraprofessional in the Sartell-St. Stephen school district.
What Peterson likes best about Sartell is its “sense of community.
“It’s all the people who make up the city,” he said. “That sense of community shines through. It’s an intrinsic value that can be seen by people who visit Sartell. It can be seen even in all the people enjoying the city’s trails.”
Peterson does not plan a big campaign kickoff. He said he does plan, however, to meet as many city residents as possible and to find out what’s on their minds.
Peterson said he enjoys doing hobbies with his family – fishing, boating, “a bit of golf.”
His children are very active in sports – Devon in hockey and tennis, Lauren in year-round figure-skating.