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Two races for Olmsted County's highest elected offices could already be decided

ROCHESTER, Minn. KIMT3 News - Two races for Olmsted County's highest elected offices could already be decided before voters head to the ballot box.

This afternoon marked the deadline for locals to file their candidacy in elections throughout Olmsted County and the City of Rochester. While most are now officially learning who they'll square off against this November, a pair of significant races are all but decided months before election day.

Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson has secured a clear path to re-election, running unopposed in his bid to continue leading the agency he started working for in 1986, and took the helm seven years ago.

"It's just the continuation of the work that we've been doing. That's what it's been about since the first time, and that's what it'll continue to be about - doing the best that we can given all of the variables and challenges that are out there, certainly for law enforcement," Sheriff Torgerson said. "It's not like we do a victory dance or anything. It's really just time to continue doing the work we're doing, and making sure that we're supporting our communities."

Another longtime local leader, Sheila Kiscaden, will also be the only candidate vying to represent District 6 on the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners.

"For an elected office person, that's a vote of confidence. I'm glad to have that community confidence, and I'm really eager to continue serving the community the way I have for many years," said Commissioner Kiscaden.

The incumbent Olmsted County policymaker has served on the board of commissioners since 2013. Kiscaden tells KIMT while she contemplated retirement, concerns over a high degree of turnover led her to seek what is likely to be her final term.

"You need a certain amount of continuity. It takes a while to learn these jobs, and so I'm pleased that I can have this capstone piece to my long public service career, and mentor the new arrivals."

Meanwhile, the prospect of an uncontested run for Olmsted County Commission District One hopeful Laurel Podulke-Smith was dashed, as paperwork for Loring Stead's campaign came through within hours of the filing deadline. Podulke-Smith, daughter of outgoing District One Commissioner Stephanie Podulke and the late Mike Podulke, who also held the seat, shares she's confident having an opponent will bring out the best in her campaign.

"The way our democracy works is that anyone can run for office, and I've been preparing to run for office for over two years. So ultimately, the voters will decide who they think is most prepared, and who will best reflect their values, their goals, their needs, their concerns on the county board."

Podulke-Smith continued, "I'm looking forward to meeting District One voters, and connecting with as many Olmsted County residents as possible so that they can get to know me, and so that I can get to know them, and listen and learn about what's on their minds, and what's in their hearts, and what's most important to them, so that when I'm elected, I can reflect those values and priorities on the County Board."

On the municipal level in the Med City, races are proving to be convoluted. At least three candidates will contend for each open Rochester City Council seat, and Mayor Kim Norton faces three challengers in her bid for re-election.

You can find the official list of candidates for every upcoming election in the City of Rochester by following this link.


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