Karwoski and Johnson elected to Washington County Board
Stan Karwoski and Wayne Johnson have won the two Washington County district commissioner races.
Only one was truly contested — Johnson technically ran unopposed for the District 4 seat, though Jeff Swenson’s name still appeared on the ballot.
In District 2, Woodbury City Council member Julie Ohs was challenging Karwoski for the seat, which he won in 2016 during a special election following former commissioner Ted Bearth’s death.
Karwoski, who previously served on the Oakdale City Council from 2001-2014 and as Oakdale mayor from 2015-16, was re-elected with 56.71 percent of the vote.
“I think the voters recognize that the county is going in the right direction, and I’m part of that effort,” he said. “I make a point to really work hard to represent all eight cities equally … and I work well with the other county board members.”
Karwoski said he tried to take advantage of the predicted high turnout by encouraging voters to submit their ballots early.
“I work extremely hard to get re-elected, I don’t assume I’m getting a vote. Each time I’m up, I knock on a lot of doors,” he said.
Upcoming decisions on spending money from the 3M settlement and planning for future water quality, continuing work on the Gold Line and road projects such updating the 694-494-94 interchange to a modern flyover model are some of his top priorities, Karwoski said.
District 2 covers portions of Woodbury, White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi, as well as the entireties of Oakdale, Landfall, Pine Springs, Birchwood and Willernie.
While Cottage Grove City Council member Wayne Johnson ran unopposed for the District 4 seat, he curiously won by just 5 percentage points over St. Paul Park City Council member Jeff Swenson, who had announced prior to the primary that he had withdrawn from the race. Because he didn’t withdraw within the deadline, his name still appeared on the ballot. He reaffirmed his decision not to run to the South Washington County and Woodbury Bulletins, as well as the Pioneer Press, after advancing to the general election.
Johnson received 9,603 votes, while Swenson earned 8,813. Write-in candidates received 126 votes.
“I was very happy that I won. I also realize that I have work to do to reach out to the constituents of the district … because the margin of the win was closer than I expected,” he said.
He said he spent most of his campaign efforts on advertising on Google and Facebook, running social media accounts, giving out door-to-door literature and appearing at candidate forums.
In an interview after the primary election, Swenson said he thought name recognition from his St. Paul Park City Council position and community involvement may have resulted in the victory. Swenson carried the St. Paul Park precincts.
District 4 covers Cottage Grove, Denmark Township, Grey Cloud Island Township, Newport, St. Paul Park, and portions of Woodbury and Hastings.
Johnson said he’s been attending County Board meetings in preparation.
Going forward, he said he’ll be watching the water safety issues in the area, working on transportation improvement, and reaching out to city councils and neighborhoods to learn more about key issues.
“I will always be open to phone calls or discussions with anybody who has a concern,” he said.
A special election will be held to fill Johnson’s vacancy in the Cottage Grove City Council.