By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
NORTH MANKATO — Two years of attending North Mankato City Council meetings and weeks spent knocking hundreds of doors paid off for Kim Spears.
He and incumbent Billy Steiner beat four other candidates to win two open seats on the council.
Steiner had the most votes with 3,657 votes and Spears had 2,888 votes. Former Councilman Kenny DeWitte and newcomer Thomas Rieff came in third and fourth with 1,469 and 1,444 votes, respectively. Peter Wachtel had 927 votes and Kurt Richardson had 911 votes.
“The thing is I’m concerned about the way government is going at every stage and every level,” Spears said. “It’s my way to serve. They can expect a lot more questions to be asked at City Council meetings.”
Spears and Steiner will be working with new a new leader in the city. Former City Administrator Wendell Sande has retired and a search is under way for his replacement. The current City Council is hoping to have Sande’s replacement chosen before the beginning of January, which is when Spears will start serving.
Expanding Highway 14 to four lanes between North Mankato and New Ulm, finding ways to lure businesses to the city, and balancing the reality of tight budgets with the level of services provided by the city were key issues for the race.
During the campaign, Steiner said he has more than 25 years of experience on the council and that will help with the transition to new city leadership. With the retirement of Sande and other top city officials, he could provide some continuity, he said.
Spears, who lost a bid for a City Council seat two years ago, said the current council is out of touch with people living on Social Security and savings income.
He has been a regular at City Council and Port Authority meetings for months and regularly spoke when the floor is open for public comments.