Ten Haken says it’s ‘time to hang it up’WORTHINGTON — Alderman Lyle Ten Haken, a 12-year member of the Worthington City Council, will not seek re-election this November.
WORTHINGTON — Alderman Lyle Ten Haken, a 12-year member of the Worthington City Council, will not seek re-election this November.
“It’s time to hang it up,” Ten Haken said Wednesday from his office.
Ten Haken has the longest tenture of the five current city councilmen. He initially took office in 2000 and by the end of this year will have completed three four-year terms.
There have been many highlights of his dozen years of work on the council, he explained.
“I wanted to see the city prosper, but I had no burning goal on a single issue,” he said of his early intentions for service on the council.
Ten Haken stressed the importance of teamwork among city council members, the mayor and city staff in overseeing the completion of projects. He is particularly proud of the city’s effort in building projects.
In the past 11 years, he said, the city has an annual average of about $15 million worth of construction.
“That’s a large amount of construction for a town of about 13,000 people,” he added.
Other city achievements include acquisition and sale of the former Prairie Expo building to Prairie Holdings Group, expansion of Minnesota 60 into a four-lane highway and the sale of the former Worthington Regional Hospital (now Sanford Medical Center Worthington).
Ten Haken stressed that despite his vote being the only dissenting vote in the hospital sale to Sanford, he was supportive of the idea of selling the facility.
“I was disappointed in the method we used, which was like a cut-and-dried deal with Sanford,” he said. “It seemed that we had alienated the other interested party, which was Avera.”
With highlights come challenges, too. Ten Haken said that one of the few that concerns him is the need to reduce two golf courses in the city to one.
“I think it needs to happen, because I don’t think a population of 13,000 people is adequate to support two 18-hole golf courses,” he said. “The question of which one will survive is a $64,000 question.”
Throughout his tenure as council member, he said “recognizing the opinions of others” has been the most important component of the job.
“We can’t always impose our own opinion,” he said.
Despite occasional conflicts, he was quick to admit there hasn’t been a time when disagreement on a certain issue affected other decisions.
Ten Haken encourages interested residents to file for election, adding that local government office should not be likened to federal-level politics.
“It’s not contentious because our goals are relatively the same,” he said. “Don’t let the ugly politics at the federal level keep you from running.”
Ten Haken ran unopposed for his post, in which he represents Ward 1, in 2004 and 2008.
“It wasn’t healthy because local office should be contested,” he said. “We want civil competition.”
Ten Haken added that he is willing to share his insights and discuss the idea of running for city council with anyone interested.
As he nears the end of his term, he is appreciative of his wife, Beth, who he said has been very flexible with timing.
“Spouses get elected by default,” he said.
He is also equally grateful to the employees at Echo Electric Supply & Lighting Design Gallery — the company he co-owns — for the numerous times they’ve helped him while he had to attend to city business.
With additional time on his hands, Ten Haken does not have solid plans of what he’d like to pursue. He knows, though, he’ll have more time to spend with family.
“My wife will definitely see me home a lot more,” he said.
He and Beth have three sons, two of whom reside in Michigan and one in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321.