Bennett, Vikings stadium booster, loses seat on Ramsey Co. board

Bennett, Wilf
Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, left, and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf talked on the sidelines of the team's practice in Mankato, Minn. in this file photo from Aug. 10, 2011. Bennett lost his bid for re-election to the county board in Tuesday's primary.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett lost his bid for re-election to the County Board in Tuesday's primary election, after serving 16 years in office.

Bennett faced three challengers in the nonpartisan election, and he came in third by a narrow margin. The top two vote-getters, Blake Huffman and Frank Mabley, advance to the November general election. The fourth candidate, former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, came in last.

Bennett was a champion of the failed effort to locate the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. He said that may have factored into his loss.

"When you've been involved as much as I've been, as long as I've been, sometimes you do things that some people don't like," Bennett said. "It wasn't the stadium that was the issue, it was cleaning up a property that needed to be cleaned up, it was putting some people back to work. The stadium just happened to be the vehicle we used."

Bennett also pointed to the low voter turnout as another factor that may have worked against him. This is the just second time the state has held the primary in August, and election officials had expected fewer voters to go to the polls.

"People we'd been talking to the last week and a half didn't even realize there was a primary. They're used to it in September," Bennett said. "We had people who should know, who didn't know."

Bennett served as a St. Paul police officer for 26 years. He also served in the state House of Representatives from 1971-1974 and 1983-1990.

"It's been everything from dodging bullets to dodging votes," Bennett said. "I enjoyed working with people, I enjoyed what I've done over the years, and I wouldn't have done it any other way."

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