Former Sheriff Fletcher to run for County Commissionerby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The county commissioner who led the bid for a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills has drawn a high-profile opponent for his re-election this fall.
Three-term incumbent Tony Bennett will be challenged by former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who has filed to run for the seat.
Fletcher says he is responding to a spike in property taxes, as his motivation for office. He says he wants to bring fiscal restraint to the county. He also says voters were unhappy that Bennett opposed a referendum as part of the Vikings stadium bid.
"In the past five years, the average property tax on a residential home in northern Ramsey County has gone up 33 percent," Fletcher said. "At the same time, the home values have plummeted 40 percent. Clearly, that's not acceptable."
Bennett says Fletcher's 16-year tenure as Ramsey County sheriff is part of the reason taxes are high. Bennett says Fletcher's budget helped push up the cost of county government, because he threatened to sue the county.
Two years ago, Fletcher lost his re-election for sheriff after a scandal in his office and a challenge from a veteran St. Paul police commander
Bennett says he has been a key factor to the county's financial stability, as reflected in the county's credit rating.
"I've been a very active commissioner. I've worked very hard to keep our budgets. We're triple-A if you've noticed for the 12th-straight time, and I've been budget chair for most of that time," Bennett said. "And we're one of 53 counties out of over 3,000 counties in the United States that's for the 12th year had a triple-A rating."
Bennett also made a failed bid for a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills.
The two have faced off before — they ran against each other for sheriff in 1994.
Two other candidates have also filed to run against Bennett, including Shoreview City Councilmember Blake Huffman. They'll face off in an Aug. 13 primary.