A third DFLer enters race for vacated Hennepin County Board seat

Edina City Council member Carolyn Jackson launched a campaign for a county commissioner special election that will take place this spring. She wants to bring a plastic bag fee to Edina, saying the public should be "irritated into behavioral change."

Hennepin County
Carolyn Jackson, an attorney and a first-term Edina City Council member, officially announced on Monday that she will seek the vacant District 6 seat on the Hennepin County Board. (City of Edina/YouTube)

A third DFL-aligned candidate has emerged for what is expected to be a hotly contested special election this spring for Hennepin County commissioner.

Carolyn Jackson, an attorney and a first-term Edina City Council member, officially announced on Monday that she will seek the vacant District 6 seat on the Hennepin County Board.

Last month former commissioner Chris LaTondresse resigned from the seat after he accepted a position to serve as CEO of a non-profit housing developer. Because that seat was vacated more than a year before LaTondresse’s term was up, a special election must be held.

Jackson joins already declared candidates Jen WestmorelandAlicia Gibson and Dario Anselmo, which means a non-partisan primary will take place in April, with the top two vote earners facing off in a May 14 general election. The winner will serve out the remainder of LaTondresse’s term, which expires at the end of next year. The filing period for the special election begins Feb. 27.

The District 6 seat on the county board represents Edina, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Orono and a number of communities around or near Lake Minnetonka.

Jackson, who in 2018 sought the DFL endorsement for a Minnesota House of Representatives district representing Edina, said she’s focusing her campaign on the need for the county board to better address an increase in crime and to ensure that safety net services provided by the county “meets taxpayers’ expectations.”

“As County Commissioner, I will look to build housing that provides a stable base for all other safety net services, and support workforce housing that is located near jobs and transportation,” Jackson said in a statement she published to her campaign website. “New housing creates job opportunities, and ensuring that workers are protected from safety violations and wage theft will be a priority.”

In March, Jackson testified at the state legislature in favor of a bill that would have prohibited businesses across Minnesota from purchasing a single-family home for the purpose of turning them into a rental property. It would have exempted entities that are charitable, made up of only five family members or less, or consist of a family trust.

Support for controversial bag fee ordinance in Edina

Jackson, who was elected to the Edina City Council in 2020, is also publicly supporting a proposed ordinance that would make Edina the third city in the state to require businesses to charge customers a fee to use a plastic or paper shopping bag for their purchased items. The idea for the ordinance came out of a list of 200 ways the city could reduce its carbon footprint as part of its Climate Action Plan. But the bag fee has faced criticism from many in Edina’s business community and even Edina’s longtime mayor, Jim Hovland.

“Behavioral change is impossible to do without some irritants,” Jackson said at a recent Edina City Council meeting on the measure. “Nobody’s going to do this just out of the goodness of their heart, they’re going to need to be irritated into behavioral change.

“I’m willing to take the blowback of people getting irritated about this if it makes them stop and think about their waste footprint,” Jackson added.

In 2018, Jackson lost a race for the DFL endorsement to represent Edina in the state House. She then ran for and won a spot on the Edina City Council in 2020. Similar to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, Jackson’s seat on the city council is officially listed as a non-partisan seat on election ballots. In recent election cycles Jackson has donated exclusively to Democratic candidates for various offices including Gov. Tim Walz, President Joe Biden, and Congressman Dean Phillips. Her campaign website donation tool uses Act Blue, popular among Democratic candidates.

Jackson joins two other DFLers in seeking the District 6 Hennepin County Board seat. Hopkins School Board member Jen Westmoreland was the first to announce last month that she was running for the seat. Westmoreland is in a relationship with Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, and has said she will recuse herself from any votes that personally impact Moriarty’s professional role. Alicia Gibson, of Edina, also announced she is running for the seat. Gibson was the runner-up in a 2021 election for a Minneapolis City Council seat, and moved to Edina a short time later. Gibson is a self-professed DFLer, but she has been a vocal critic of Moriarty’s tenure as county attorney.

A fourth candidate, former Republican legislator Dario Anselmo, has also announced he plans to run for the seat. Anselmo lost a close race to LaTondresse in 2020 and said public safety, mental health and property taxes are his top issues he plans to bring to the seven-member board if elected.

“We need to keep a close eye on the budgeting process and make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. Standing up for taxpayers will be a top priority of mine,” Anselmo said.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.