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Opinion: Primary holds plenty of local interest

Primary elections like the one that will take place next Tuesday in Rosemount rarely draw much attention from voters. It's understandable, we suppose. The elections, coming less than two months before the real thing in November, don't really decide anything final. They narrow fields. They prune names from the ballot. But in most cases the candidates who have their political aspirations either ended or put on hold didn't have much of a chance in the first place. It's hard to build a real personal interest when there's little to no chance your preferred candidate will lose.

This month's primary is different, though. At least locally. Because in among the candidates for U.S. Senate or Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice are two Rosemount residents competing for a chance at a Minnesota House of Representatives seat neither of them would have had much chance to win before this year.

For the past 24 years, Rosemount resident Dennis Ozment has been a constant in the House. But with his decision to retire this year the seat is more open than it has been in a long time.

Phil Sterner is one of the candidates hoping to replace Ozment. The current Rosemount City Council member is the endorsed DFL candidate. His opponent, local veterinarian and property owner Kurt Walter-Hansen, continued his challenge after Sterner received his endorsement because, he said, he believes voters and not delegates should choose their party's candidate.

Whoever wins next week will face Republican Judy Lindsay in November's general election. She is the only Republican to file for the seat.

The race between Sterner and Walter-Hansen has already had it's heated moments, as could be expected from a council member and a man who has had his differences of opinion with city government in recent years. Sterner did not support the use of eminent domain in downtown redevelopment, but he has taken heat from Walter-Hansen's supporters for not doing more to prevent its use.

It is about as tough-talking a local election as Rosemount has had recently -- and as important as any in recent memory -- and it deserves some attention at the polls Tuesday and beyond.