Update: Little elected mayor of Lakeville

He defeats longtime public servants Bellows, Rieb

City Council Member Matt Little was elected mayor of Lakeville, defeating incumbent Mark Bellows and Council Member Laurie Rieb.

Matt Little
Matt Little

Little, 27, and likely the youngest mayor Lakeville has ever had, led the night, ultimately garnering about 44 percent of the vote compared to Bellows’ 39 percent and Rieb’s 17 percent.

“Thanks to everybody who made this possible,” said Little, who was elected to the City Council in 2010.

Before his election as mayor in 2010, Bellows had served as a council member for 10 years. Rieb, who ran for mayor and lost to Holly Dahl in 2006, has been a council member since 2001.

Bellows’ mayoral tenure has seen the creation of the Finance Advisory Committee and improved relations with Lakeville’s business leaders.

Bellows said he was grateful for the ability to serve Lakeville all those years.

Mark Bellows

“I’ve met some very marvelous people because I had that opportunity,” he said.

Bellows will spend the rest of his tenure working with the council on a budget for next year. As for the transition, he said he intends for it to be a gracious one.

In the future, he will be busy. He is growing his counseling practice, he said. In addition he will remain a chaplain with the Lakeville Police Department and is pastor of Hope Community Church. But there are family changes afoot.

“In December, I get to be a grandpa for the first time,” he said.

Sun Thisweek could not reach Rieb by press time for comment.

Before the Lakeville Area Chamber of Commerce debate in October, Little unveiled a 17-page policy document, outlining his goals should he be elected.

Laurie Rieb

Among those was a business competition package, which according to the document will “create jobs and diversify our commercial and industrial sectors, serving to protect us from future economic downturns.”

Little said that the business package would be among the first policies he would pursue, working with the new City Council.

Lakeville’s mayoral race was one of the most contested in the south metro. What started earlier this year as a race between two men with a history of opposition on the City Council, became a three-person race when Rieb declared her candidacy in August.

But supporters and opponents of Little and Bellows have been the most vocal in local letters to the editor, campaign signs and website and Facebook comments.

High-profile politicians, including state Sen. Dave Thompson and Met Council Member Wendy Wulff, and business leaders such as Patti McDonald and Bob Vogel, backed Bellows. Little’s endorsers included former Lakeville Mayor Ed Mako and Wally Potter, treasurer of the Lakeville Area Historical Society.

Campaign finance became an issue in this race. Little raised more than $18,000, about $2,900 of that from unions and organizations outside the city, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Lakeville City Clerk’s office. Americans for Prosperity, a Super PAC backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, sent out two anti-Little mailings the weekend before Election Day. There has not been confirmation that the Bellows or Rieb campaigns were involved with them.

Rieb’s council term concludes this year. Doug Anderson will take her place. Little’s council seat will need to be filled through appointment.

Little attributes at least some of his success to his campaign’s ground game.

“We knocked on so many doors,” he said.

Though he has used social media pervasively, especially for fundraising and outreach, Little said it is not the end-all.

“Social media doesn’t win elections,” he said.

At Little’s campaign headquarters in downtown Lakeville, supporters watched results from Dakota County’s website projected on the wall. In another room, supporters took a break to catch up on the results of the presidential race. Some brought food, rendering the event with the mood of a potluck.

Kris Pierson, one of the supporters, waited patiently for the website to refresh.

“It’s exciting to see people support Matt,” Pierson said. “It shows Lakeville is ready for a big change.”

Little will be sworn in, along with Council Member Kerrin Swecker and Anderson, in January. Lakeville’s mayor serves a two-year term.