Local faces in statewide races

Several local residents are vying for statewide seats in this November's general election.

Southwest residents Mark Ritchie and Joel Spoonheim are challenging incumbent Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer.

Ritchie, a 54-year-old East Calhoun resident, has the DFL endorsement. A Minneapolis resident for 25 years, Ritchie has spent the past 15 years working on nonpartisan voter registration, election protection and get-out-the-vote campaigns. He organized a grassroots voter registration drive in 2004 called November 2. His work during that election cycle and the frustration he felt with Kiffmeyer, a Republican who lives in Big Lake Township, compelled him to run.

Spoonheim, a 36-year-old Kingfield resident, is the Independence Party's candidate for the seat. Currently the economic and redevelopment director for Brooklyn Park, Spoonheim also co-founded Civics Connection, an organization that works to build the next generation of civic leaders. He wants to make citizen engagement the top priority of the office. Spoonheim is one of five candidates running for office as part of the Independence Party's &#8220Team Minnesota.” The team includes the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and auditor; and the candidates for each office say they believe the elected officials who fill those positions should work as a team.

Lucy Gerold, the deputy police chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, is running for state auditor as part of the Independence Party's Team Minnesota ticket. In the Police Department, she helped create a community-policing program and implement the CODEFOR crime-reduction and accountability program. She has also handled the MPD's $100 million annual budget. Gerold wants to use the role of auditor to enhance the performance of local governments rather than simply point out their mistakes.

Other candidates vying for the state auditor seat include Republican incumbent Patricia Anderson, DFLer Rebecca Otto and Green Party candidate Dave Berger.

For additional 2006 campaign coverage, including the Southwest Journal's recent Voter's Guide, go to www.swjournal.com and click on &#8220Campaign Watch.”