Change is inevitable and at times it can be historic.
On Nov. 8, voters in Wright County elected three new county commissioners – all of them women. In the 167-year history of Wright County, it marked the first time that the majority of commissioners will be women and all of them will be first-time county commissioners.
Tina Diedrick won election in District 1, defeating challenger Terry Strege. Diedrick received 6,520 votes (56.32 percent), while Strege received 5,013 votes (43.30 percent).
Diedrick, who spent much of her adult life in Norwood-Young America, where she served as mayor, moved to Wright County to be closer to family and, when the District 1 position came open after Commissioner Christine Husom announced she wouldn’t seek another term in office, she wanted to get back into the political arena. Being a public servant has been part of her mindset since childhood.
“My mom and dad taught us when we were kids that you need to serve people,” Diedrick said. “For years, I lived in Norwood-Young America where I ran my own business, did a lot of volunteer work, served on their planning commission and was elected mayor for eight years. My husband I have raised five kids and we moved back to Annandale – where I grew up – to take care of my dad.”
In District 3, Jeanne Holland defeated former Commissioner Mike Potter. Holland received 4,997 votes (52.37 percent), while Potter received 4,491 votes (47.07 percent).
Holland initially was more interested in recruiting someone else to run for the district seat that had been held by Commissioner Mark Daleiden, who also opted not to run for another and whose district was altered due to redistricting – removing half of St. Michael from the district largely comprised of Otsego and adding Albertville.
Part of Holland’s desire to run with the uniqueness of the newly-formed district, which skews markedly younger than the county average.
“I was really intrigued by the new district of Otsego and Albertville,” Holland said. “The average age in those two cities is 34 – a lot younger than most of the county. I have five kids, 15 grandkids and three more on the way and all but one of my kids live in Wright County. I want to serve the young families in this district, so I wanted to be a new voice for a new district.”
In District 4, Nadine Schoen defeated incumbent Mary Wetter, who was required to run for re-election after two years of a four-year term because of redistricting. Schoen received 5,716 votes (52.00 percent), while Wetter received 5,224 votes (47.53 percent).
Schoen is a lifelong Wright County resident who grew up in Maple Lake. She raised three kids and owned a business in the county for 30 years. She spent the last 12 years on the St. Michael City Council and has been active in many community, county and regional organizations.
“I feel like I’ve been a strong voice in my community and I think we all want to try to make a difference and do something positive,” Schoen said. “I’ve been very involved in the issues that have affected St. Michael and feel I can bring a new perspective to the county board that represents the people of my district and the entire county.”
While the three new commissioners come from different backgrounds, one thing they all acknowledged was that the Nov. 8 vote that brought the three women to the county is historic.
“I think it is historic and important,” Diedrick said. “We all need to work together as commissioners to find the best solutions for issues facing Wright County, but it will bring a different perspective that I’m looking forward to being part of. I was excited to see that three women won in the same commissioner election in Wright County.”
“I was very happy to see it,” Holland said. “For so long a lot of our county boards were made up mostly of old farmers. That was fine when we were a county that was primarily farmland, but we’ve been one of the fast-growing counties in the state for more than 20 years. Most of our growth has come from young families moving into Wright County and Nadine, Tina and I are younger and closer to the age where we know the struggles young families face. To have a new perspective like that – and for all of us being women voted in at the same time – is a change I’m glad to be part of.”
“I definitely think it is historic,” Schoen said. “When you look our age group and that we’re all very strong women, I think we all bring something positive to the county board that will bring us into a new direction. Wright County has grown a lot over the last several years, but we still have the balance of having a hometown feel and the feeling of safety. I want to do everything I can to help lead us into the future and, even though we continue to grow, we don’t lose that hometown feel that makes Wright County special.”
Wright County would like to welcome all three of the new commissioners as they help chart the path of making the critical decisions that will move the county forward in the next chapter of its history.