Nisswa City Council member John Ryan handily defeated Fred Heidmann to become Nisswa’s next mayor.
When votes were totaled Tuesday, Nov. 3, Ryan had 1,171 (85.41%) to incumbent Heidmann’s 182 votes (13.27%). There were 18 write-in votes (1.31%). Ryan is completing his first term as a council member this year, having been elected in 2016. Had he lost the mayor’s race, he would have been off the council totally.
The council will have both a new face and a familiar face. Former council member Ross Krautkremer garnered the most votes with 776 (42.13%) followed by newcomer Mark Utzinger with 599 votes (32.52%). Krautkremer was appointed to the council in June 2014 and then won election to a four-year term that year. He didn’t seek re-election in 2018.
A third council candidate, Bob Fier, lost a second bid for a council seat, trailing with 436 votes (23.67%). There were 31 write-ins (1.68%). Fier sought election to the council in 2018.
Heidmann, a two-term mayor first elected in 2016 and a two-year council member elected in 2014, has had a volatile two months leading up to the election. On Aug. 29, Heidmann was arrested under probable cause for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process while two officers - one from Pequot Lakes and one from Nisswa - were conducting a traffic stop on a third party on Highway 371, south of Nisswa.
At a subsequent special city council meeting Sept. 4 to address the incident, the council asked the mayor to resign, removed him from city committees and censured him.
Heidmann did not resign, and instead leveled misconduct allegations against the city’s police department and claimed disrespectful behavior by three longtime city employees, saying council members knew of some incidents, at the Sept. 16 regular council meeting.
Then on Oct. 15 at another special meeting, at Heidmann’s request the council considered whether the city should investigate the city’s police department, police chief and a number of city employees for varying kinds of alleged personal misconduct, ultimately denying Heidmann’s request to launch such an investigation.
In addition to Ryan, Gary Johnson’s council term ends in December. Johnson did not file for re-election after serving three four-year terms. He was first elected in 2008 and will complete his 12th year on the council at the end of December.
Area election results started trickling in at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, after lakes area elections officials reported strong voter turnout all day at polling sites that were open to voters.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.