Should council members support a candidate?


Candidates are flooding voters with campaign ads and pamphlets in hopes of gaining their support.

Locally, some Winnebago residents display yard signs with the candidate’s name of their choice. But, should elected officials publicly endorse a candidate they would like to see get elected?

In the race for the Faribault County commission seat in District 4, two City Council members are split over who is the best candidate.

Mayor Scott Robertson has displayed yard signs for incumbent Commissioner Tom Loveall, while Councilman Paul Eisenmenger has shown support for challenger Dana Gates.

Kevin Parsneau, of the Department of Government at Minnesota State University-Mankato, says although public officials have the right of freedom of speech, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives.

Sure, endorsing might help a candidate you favor, but it can cause division especially if the other person wins. These grudges can last a long time and undermine unity,” he says.

Also, endorsing against someone who wins and then having to work with them could be a problem,” he adds.

Loveall has been a commissioner since being elected in 2003 and is seeking his sixth four-year term.

Gates, who served on the Winnebago City Council from 2006 to 2010, worked as a loan officer for nine years in Winnebago prior to operating the Steel Wheel Bar on Main Street from 2014 to 2019. He currently owns Allenz Bar in Easton.

Parsneau says sometimes elected officials can find themselves endorsing a long-time friend and that may not sit well with some voters.

It can look to voters like they are inappropriately putting their fingers on the scale,” he says. “It can leave a bad taste in the voters’ mouths.”

District 4 includes the cities of Delavan, Easton and Winnebago and the townships of Barber, Delavan, Lura, Prescott and Winnebago.

The polls on election day, Nov. 8, will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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