With three mayoral candidates, Second Ward is ‘war zone’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 31, 2002

As the primaries are nearing, Albert Lea mayoral candidates are starting to campaign more and more. Radio ads are going on the air and things are heating up a bit more than usual. With five strong candidates, it is not yet becoming clear who are the favorites, but in one area of town this race seems to have an even more complex problem.

When someone runs for office they can usually expect good support from their neighbors. But in Ward Two, where three candidates live, the three candidates are each other’s neighbors.

Mark Anderson, Jean Eaton and Tony Trow all live within walking distance, even yelling distance, from each other on Park Avenue. Their neighborhood is on Fountain Lake where Lakeview Boulevard and Fountain Street merge together.

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&uot;It’s sort of looks like a sign farm around there,&uot; said Anderson, describing the Park Avenue neighborhood in which every house seems to have a mayor candidate’s sign.

Eaton and Trow live directly across the street from each other and Anderson just around the corner, so the mayoral race is much more than just a city race &045; it is a battle between neighbors.

&uot;We’re friends with the Eatons and we are going to stay friends with the Eatons,&uot; said Trow.

So is the neighborhood a hotbed of political action? Is it as Arlington, Va. is to Washington, DC? Trow said, &uot;It’s just by accident that we all live in the same area and are running for mayor.&uot;

Eaton said, &uot;We all respect each other and we really like each other.&uot; She added, &uot;We all just happen to live in the same neighborhood and happen to have very strong opinions.&uot;

The other two candidates for mayor, George Marin and Don Mathison, also share a ward: the third, where they faced off for a city council seat two years ago.

In Ward Two, the neighbors of the candidates are not shy about who their choices are. The streets around their houses are plastered with signs for each candidate.

So was it tough for these neighbors to make up their minds?

&uot;Not for me,&uot; said Dick Paul, a retired executive with the Boy Scouts of America who lives on Park Ave. &uot;I had no difficulty,&uot; he said, pointing to his front lawn sign promoting Eaton. &uot;She’s a go-getter.&uot;

Paul said he is very interested in the neighborhood race, but thinks that the reason behind it isn’t anything to do with the area. &uot;It’s fascinating that they are so heavy right here on Park. But it’s just by coincidence,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t think anyone is calling this an activist community.&uot;

Just around the corner from Paul, Karen Smed, who is working on Trow’s campaign, said, &uot;We laughingly call this place ‘The War Zone.’&uot;

&uot;Your have to have an opinion and you can only support one candidate when you go to the polls,&uot; said Smed. Consequently, people in the neighborhood have not had problems putting up signs. &uot;Everyone pretty much already knows everyone else’s political leanings, so there are no big surprises.&uot;

One of the biggest surprises is the yard of Mark Jones on Fountain Street. Jones, when approached by someone with the Trow campaign, agreed to put up a sign. &uot;I told her that if anyone else wanted to put up a sign then they could,&uot; he explained.

A few weeks later he was asked to put up a sign by both Anderson’s and Eaton’s campaigns, both of which he agreed to. Jones now has the signs of each mayoral candidate from the Second Ward and others for both the state legislature and the sheriff’s race.

Jones said he knows each one of the candidates. &uot;It’s kind of hard to turn them down when you know them,&uot; he said, laughing.