WHITE BEAR LAKE — A new face will lead the city for the next four years. After 12 years as mayor, Jo Emerson is not renewing her bid for office in November.
“I did some thinking last year after my husband died, and I decided not to run,” Emerson said. “It’s time. I’ve enjoyed this and it’s been a privilege to serve as mayor, but I want to travel more and do things while I’m still able.”
The mayor also admitted a health scare earlier this year convinced her she had made the right decision.
The job comes with many responsibilities, Emerson continued, something she no longer desires. “Last year was difficult due to the pandemic,” she noted. “People were so angry. I just want to go and play now. I enjoyed being mayor, but I want to be free of responsibilities.”
The grandmother of 11 said she looks forward to seeing her grandchildren more often, six of whom live out of state. “And with my military brat background, I have friends all over the country who I want to visit. We talk about returning to Japan where we went to school, and I’d love to take a train trip.”
Two candidates stepped up to run for mayor in the election, as did a newcomer in Ward 2. When the filing period ended June 1, the following residents had thrown their hats in the ring for seats on the White Bear Lake City Council:
• Dan Mullin, 3847 East County Line Road N. Mullin and his family have lived in White Bear Lake for 16 years. He’s been married for 22 years and has three children, the youngest of whom will be a senior at South next year. He’s served on the 624 District school board for eight years and said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the community as mayor.
• Dan Louismet, 1980 Third St. An attorney, Louismet was born and raised in White Bear Lake. He and his wife have two young daughters. A former Parks Commission member and current Charter Commission member, he said he’s running to preserve the history, charm and character of the city, especially the downtown, and to ensure residents’ voices are heard.
• Doug Biehn, 1949 11th St. For the first time, the Ward 2 councilman is opposed in the election. He has served on council since 2010 and been a resident since 1990. He and his wife have five children and two grandchildren and have fostered more than 25 youngsters. Biehn said he enjoys helping and responding to constituents, performing community service and working for the benefit of the city’s residents.
• Heidi Hughes, 4835 Lake Ave. A resident since 2009, Hughes and her husband have four children who attend Frassati Catholic Academy, where she also serves on the School Advisory Council. She has a background in politics, having moved to Washington, D.C. after graduating from college to work for campaign organizations, advocacy groups and for her Congresswoman on tax and social service issues. She looks forward “to continuing to help bring communication and clarity to issues” on the council.
• Kevin Edberg, 2408 Ronald Ave. Again running unopposed, the council member has lived in White Bear Lake for more than 50 years. He is a “proud product” of the district’s public schools and professionally leads a nonprofit that does small business development in addition to owning a small business himself. He’s been in public office for 31 years and is seeking his fourth term on council. “I want to continue to serve my hometown, helping it be a welcoming place that meets the needs of all who seek to invest their time and lives in our community.”
Election Day is Nov. 2.
— Debra Neutkens