Mankato City Council Election Guide for Students

Maxwell Mayleben ® Editor in Chief |

Next Tuesday, there will be three sections for elections on the ballot for the Mankato City Council.

The city of Mankato runs on a charter form of government with a council-manager plan. Mankato is broken into 5 geographic sections called wards, each of which have their own council member.

In addition to those five members, the council consists of a council member At-Large and a Mayor.

Wards 2 and 4 are both up for election this year, as well as the councilperson At-Large.

Mike Lavern is running unopposed for the At-Large position. Lavern was first elected to the City Council in 2000 and continue to serve on the council until losing an election in 2012. Lavern was then asked in 2016 to run for the position again and returned.

During a forum held by the Greater Mankato Growth, Lavern spoke to the challenges that face Mankato. “There’s lots of issues that face the city every day.” Lavern said, “Certainly, in the near term, COVID is going to be a part of that. It’s a matter of making sure we are taking action that makes the most sense.”

Lavern also spoke of the various ways that the council is going to have to adapt its budget in the next few years to accommodate for COVID-19 causes budgetary short fallings, including the removal of over 20 city jobs.

If students choose to vote in Mankato, then Lavern will appear on their ballot as the only option for the Councilperson At-Large.

Another position on the ballot is the Ward 2 Councilperson. Jenn Melby Kelley, the incumbent is currently running for this position unopposed.

Kelley is a second-generation entrepreneur, and owner of the Coffee Hag, a popular coffee shop in downtown Mankato.

One main goal of Kelley’s is to advocate for small businesses in Mankato.

“We are known as a small business community,” said Kelley, “Supporting small businesses is the way to go”.

Ward 2 is the geographic area in Mankato most people would refer to as “downtown” or at the bottom of the hill. This means if students live near the bars, they more than likely will see Kelley on the ballot.

The final election on the ballot is for Ward 4 in Mankato. This is the area that is north of Walmart and east of the river.

There are two candidates up for election this year for Ward 4, Dennis Dieken and Daniel Gatluak Puot Well.

Dieken, the incumbent of the position, has lived in Mankato for the past 28 years, according to the Greater Mankato Growth website. He served as Ward 4’s Councilperson since 2016.

Well, a professional interpreter and President of the South Sudanese Community of Minnesota, spoke to the importance of keeping businesses supporting in Mankato.

“Make it easy for local business to get what they need,” said Well during the GMG forum.

Both Dieken and Well both oppose raising taxes for citizens, opting instead to trim different areas in the budget.

Ward 4, being further away from campus, will most likely not appear on most student’s ballot. However, for students who do live in this area, will have to choose between these two candidates.

Header photo courtesy of the City of Mankato website.

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