Eaton rolls; Anderson edges Trow

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Albert Lea residents struggled with a tough decision at the polls, with many saying they had a hard time choosing between strong candidates in a five-way race. But when they cast their ballots, they gave Jean Eaton a lopsided win.

Eaton, who ran her campaign on slogans like &uot;can-do spirit,&uot; accomplished her first objective, finishing first in all six city wards, all by comfortable margins.

The fight for second-place was much less decisive, however, with attorney Mark Anderson beating out business owner Tony Trow by less than one percentage point.

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Anderson had 1,140 votes, which narrowly upstaged Trow’s 1,093 votes. Anderson beat Trow in four of the six wards; one of the two wards where Trow beat Anderson was the Second, where Anderson, Eaton and Trow all live.

&uot;It is kind of humbling to make the final cut when there were so many fine candidates,&uot; said Anderson, who finished second in the 2000 general election for mayor. &uot;I’m honored.&uot;

Eaton hosted a party at her house for election night. She had reason to celebrate. She

pulled in 1,695 votes, more than 500 more votes than Anderson. &uot;I feel absolutely wonderful about the results,&uot; said Eaton. &uot;I’m just honored and overwhelmed with the support I’ve received. I appreciate all the love and support that I’ve been given.&uot;

Trow, who grew up in Albert Lea but left for a career in business and government before returning in 2000, said he was disappointed but felt that he had done what he’d set out to do.

&uot;Well, I’ve only been back here in Albert Lea for two years, so I didn’t have the name recognition that many other candidates had,&uot; he said. &uot;So I was the dark horse candidate of the group, and for being that I feel I did well.&uot;

&uot;I wish both candidates well, and I will still pursue the issues that I feel are important,&uot; said Trow.

Anderson said, &uot;I just would like to say that I respect the efforts that the other candidates made. To put themselves on the line and share what they feel is important for the city should be commended.&uot;

The fifth and sixth wards were the two where Anderson most dominated Trow; Anderson had 91 votes to Trow’s 63 in the Fifth and 137 to Trow’s 111 in the Sixth. In the other wards, the margins were much closer.

Current councilman George Marin had 514 votes, finishing fourth in all six wards, and former alderman Don Mathison had 139 votes.

&uot;The voters have spoken,&uot; Marin said. &uot;I feel we did the best we could and that we ran a very good campaign.&uot;

Many voters polled at the First Ward voting site, Brookside School, said they had trouble deciding which candidate to vote for.

Many declined comment because they knew two or more of the candidates. One man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, &uot;There were so many very strong candidates there, I know three of them well and I just decided to go with Eaton because my son knows her son.&uot;

Near impossible decision-making was the most common comment about the election.

&uot;I had a very tough time making a choice between Trow and Eaton. I chose Eaton because I like her enthusiasm,&uot; said Kent Erlandson.

Randy Stay said he voted for Tony Trow. &uot;I just think Tony is progressive and will help to initiate the kind of change we need in this town,&uot; he said.

Another voter, Donald Vaagen, said, &uot;I voted for George Marin because I know him. I consider him to be a trustworthy and energetic leader.&uot;

&uot;I can’t remember any election where all of the candidates were so strong,&uot; said one woman leaving the polls.

Eaton and Anderson both said they were relieved to go on, but each said that there is a great deal more to do from now until the November election.

Eaton said she thinks her success was due to her community work. &uot;I think people know that I will get things done. I think I’ve proven that with my work in the Albert Lea area and by following through on every project I’ve been involved with,&uot; she said.

Anderson believes his stance on major issues as well as recognition helped him in the primary election. &uot;I think that it’s probably due to the fact that I have name recognition from the last mayor’s election. I think it is also because my stance on the sales tax issue and my view of many other issues,&uot; he said. &uot;I also hope that it is because people believe that I am qualified for the job.&uot;

Anderson and Eaton will have two months to campaign before the Nov. 5 election.

&uot;I am looking forward to getting a chance to get back out to interact with the public to discuss issues and share my ideas,&uot; said Anderson about the upcoming months.

Eaton said, &uot;I am already thinking about the next stage. I’m looking forward to campaigning more and meeting more of the wonderful people of Albert Lea.&uot;

How the voters who supported other candidates will vote the second time around is far from clear. But now the problem of decision-making is a little more clear cut with two candidates instead of five.

Trow could ask for a recount, but said he isn’t considering it.

&uot;I don’t think 50 votes is recount territory,&uot; Trow said. &uot;I think the voters have spoken.&uot;

The message, he said, was clearly that residents supported the similar agendas of Eaton, Marin and Trow.

&uot;George, Jeannie and I brought people the same message, and I think that message overwhelmingly won this election,&uot; Trow said.