Palmgren defeats incumbent Geneseo mayor

Posted Online: March 18, 2014, 9:39 pm
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By Lisa Hammer,
CAMBRIDGE - Attorney Nadine Palmgren won her challenge to Geneseo Mayor Linda Van Der Leest in Tuesday's ballot, with 876 votes (53 percent) to 773 (47 percent).

"I am so happy and proud to represent the citizens of Geneseo and serve as their mayor," said Ms. Palmgren.

"Citizens will always be first and foremost, and I am committed to acting in their best interest," she said. "The result of this election is a reminder to all elected officials that they have a responsibility to listen to what citizens want, and not to substitute their own personal agenda in making decisions.

"I look forward to working with citizens, city employees and local businesses in moving forward into the future," she said. "I thank everyone for their support, and each and every person that took the time to vote."

A 38-year Geneseo resident, Ms. Palmgren campaigned on her combination of business skills and legal background. She said her main goals was to restore citizen advisory boards and hire a city administrator. The city has had several administrators in four years; the last resigned in October.

Ms. Palmgren also called for increased transparency and financial accountability. Her campaign messages included restoring the fall city clean-up, re-establishing the Geneseo division of the Henry County Circuit Court and reinstating a high school co-op student working for the city.

Mayor Van Der Leest had run on economic development, balanced budgets, infrastructure improvements and networking with other city leaders during her tenure. She cited pensions and health care as the biggest challenges.

"I just wish the best of luck to everyone," she said after Tuesday's vote. "I appreciate the opportunity to do the things we've been able to do."

Mayor Van Der Leest also had advocated the new council system where people could attend just two meetings per month -- the committee of the whole and the regular council meeting -- to keep up-to-date on city business.

Also on Tuesday, in the city's only challenged race among aldermen, incumbent Keith Kennett won election to his seventh term in Geneseo's 3rd Ward with 301 votes to 225 for challenger Karen West.

Alds. Justin Snodgrass, 1st Ward, and Robert Wachtel, 2nd Ward, were unopposed Tuesday and received 302 and 222 votes respectively. S. Jason Robinson, a write-in candidate in the 4th Ward, had 72 unofficial votes.

The write-in votes will be counted by Thursday, according to county officials. To win election, Mr. Robinson needed as many votes as signatures for his candidacy. That number was not available Tuesday.

Thirty-two percent -- or 1,469 -- of Geneseo's 4,570 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday.

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