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Peterson, Olsen re-elected to Cottage Grove City Council

Voters returned a pair of incumbents to the Cottage Grove City Council on Tuesday, re-electing council members Justin Olsen and Jen Peterson to a second term on the five-person board.

Peterson, as she did in her first City Council run in 2008, retained her seat comfortably, garnering more than 7,000 votes, or 26 percent of the ballots cast, in the six-candidate race. Olsen, her fellow incumbent, followed with roughly 5,400 votes, or just more than 20 percent of the vote.

Following a first term that featured stiff resistance from vocal citizen opposition groups on issues like the construction of the city's new public safety and city hall building and road improvements that levied expensive assessments on a rural neighborhood, Peterson said Tuesday night her and Olsen's victories over a field full of challengers "sends a clear message" that most voters are satisfied with the Cottage Grove City Council's stewardship of the city.

"I think it's very powerful that it's all three of us," she said, referencing incumbent Mayor Myron Bailey's successful re-election bid.

Following Peterson and Olsen, first-time candidate Matthew Kowalski lost out on a council seat by roughly 900 votes, collecting 4,528 votes. With 4,214 votes, Lisa Meyer, another candidate making her first run for public office, trailed close behind in fourth place.

Another pair of first-time candidates, Michael Fouts and Tina Folch, trailed further behind, garnering 2,984 and 2,523 votes, respectively.

Olsen said in an interview early Wednesday his was humbled by the vote of confidence from Cottage Grove voters.

"Somebody casting a vote for you is a sacred trust," he said. "It's somebody saying, 'I trust you with our community,' and there's a huge responsibility that comes with that."