Year in Review: Election brings change in new city council members, Sunday liquor sales

WORTHINGTON -- The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president certainly represented a political upheaval at the national level, but there was also some significant change locally in southwest Minnesota.

WORTHINGTON -- The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president certainly represented a political upheaval at the national level, but there was also some significant change locally in southwest Minnesota.

In two three-way races for Worthington City Council, incumbents were defeated this past November. Additionally, a measure allowing Worthington restaurants, clubs, bowling centers and hotels to sell intoxicating liquor on Sundays passed.

Chad Cummings won the race for the at-large Worthington City Council seat with 2,079 votes. Incumbent Diane Graber and Jessica Velasco trailed with 1,084 and 751, respectively.

“We need to build a morale in town,” said Cummings, Cummings, vice president and co-owner of Radio Works. “We need Worthingtonians to say ‘we have a good community here that we want to grow and support as much as we can.’”

In the race for the Ward 1 seat, Alan Oberloh won with 637 votes - 42.92 percent. Chris Kielblock had 457 votes, and incumbent Rod Sankey received 387. Oberloh previously served three terms as mayor of Worthington, which he said surely helped him win the race.


“With all my experience - 12 years in city government - I’m somebody that has the ability to hit the ground running,” he said. “I know people knew that.”

Worthington’s Sunday liquor measure was approved with 66 percent of the vote (2,663 votes) yes to 1,372 votes no.

“It’s definitely a vote for choice,” said Chad Nixon, representing GreatLIFE and Duffer’s, who helped fight to get the issue on the ballot. “People can decide if they want to have a spirited drink on Sunday, as well as drive some dollars toward the community.”

Worthington residents had previously voted no to Sunday liquor sales in 1984 and 2004. A Sunday liquor sales measure also passed in November in Luverne - which voted down the question in 2004 - with 1,473 yes votes to 885 no.

Though local voters voted overwhelmingly for the Sunday liquor measure, a bond referendum for District 518 schools was soundly defeated. District residents rejected Tuesday a $79 million bond referendum to build a new high school and improve existing district buildings by a margin of 3,664 to 1,957 votes.

“We have to come up with a solution that is going to work and it can’t be something that is going to continue kicking the can down the road,” District 518 John Landgaard said on the evening of the referendum’s defeat. “It has to be something that will bring a long-term solution.”

Landgaard and other referendum advocates had stressed that district facilities are exceeding their capacities, and projections show a steady increase in student enrollment over the next several years. According to Landgaard, the new building project was the best way to alleviate the problem without compromising the quality of the district’s education.

“I suspect in the next six months to a year we will be back asking the voters to address the next proposal,” Landgaard added.


Meanwhile, November’s elections brought no change at the state and federal levels, at least from a southwest Minnesota standpoint. Minnesota District 22 Sen. Bill Weber, as well as District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker and District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, all earned new terms in St. Paul.

Weber, a real estate broker and appraiser with 16 years of local government experience prior to his initial election to the Minnesota District 22 Senate seat in 2012, won a second term by garnering about 70 percent of the vote to outdistance DFL challenger Brian Abrahamson.

Schomacker, R-Luverne, was elected to his fourth two-year term in the Minnesota House Tuesday night with a convincing 72 percent to 28 percent win over Democratic challenger Laura Woods. Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, won his eighth two-year term Tuesday, toppling DFL challenger Kirby Kruse of Windom by a 70 percent to 30 percent cushion.

In the race to represent Minnesota’s First Congressional District in Washington, incumbent Democrat Tim Walz earned a narrow triumph. Walz captured 169,076 (50.4 percent) in edging out Republican Jim Hagedorn (166,527 votes, 49.6 percent) in a rematch of the candidates’ 2014 matchup. With the win, Walz will serve his sixth term in Congress.


Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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