Returning mayor and two political newcomers elected in St. Paul Park

Voters in St. Paul Park elected a new mayor and two new council members on Tuesday, including one by just 13 votes.

Former mayor and state Rep. Keith Franke ran unopposed for mayor and received 95 percent of the vote. Mayor Sandi Dingle, who had served in the position since 2017, announced earlier this year that she was retiring.

St. Paul Park Mayor Sandi Dingle, left, is retiring at the end of 2023. Former mayor and former state Rep. Keith Franke ran unopposed on Tuesday for the position. (Courtesy photos)

Franke, 52, served as mayor from 2012 to 2016 before serving in the state House of Representatives as a Republican from 2016-2018 and from 2021-2022. He is the owner of Park Café and Franke’s Corner Bar in St. Paul Park.

Seven candidates ran for the two open positions on the council. Incumbents Jeff Haggerty and Tim Jones were on the ballot, but it was political newcomers Tim Conrad and Charlene Whitbred Hemmingson who prevailed.

Conrad, who runs the Cars in the Park car show, received 26 percent of the vote. He serves on the city’s parks and recreation commission and is a 45-year member of St. Paul Park American Legion Post No. 98 and is the former Sons of Legionnaire Commander.

Hemmingson received 17 percent of the vote, defeating Haggerty by 13 votes; Hemmingson received 278 votes; Haggerty got 265.

Hemmingson is a member of the city’s parks and recreation commission. She has served on the Pullman PTA and the St. Paul Park Athletic Association and is a longtime volunteer with the city’s fire department; her late father, St. Paul Park firefighter Charles Whitbred, died in 1962 at the age of 34 when he had a heart attack after responding to a fire at Applebaum’s grocery in Cottage Grove. She was named an honorary firefighter with the department and firefighter of the year in 2018; she also was named volunteer of the year for St. Paul Park in 2023.

Also running for the two open seats were: Tayna Foote, Kelly Mullan and Sharon Ornquist.

According to Washington County, 29 percent of the city’s 3,235 registered voters voted in the election.

Mahtomedi city elections

In Mahtomedi, Mayor Richard Brainerd and city council members Jane Schneeweis and Jeff Charlesworth all ran unopposed.

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