Photo by Kent Landerholm, 2012

The League of Women Voters of Dakota County is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences policy through education and advocacy. We meet monthly and also host candidate forums, issue forums, and other events of interest to the community. Please attend one of our meetings or contact us for more information!


Updated: Jan 12

Update: The City Council has selected Joy Pearson to fill the vacancy. During its January 4 meeting the City Council unanimously voted to appoint Ms. Pearson and she was then sworn in. Ms. Pearson joins new Farmington City Council members Katie Porter and Steve Wilson who were elected in November.

Background Information

Farmington City Council Member Joshua Hoyt was elected as Mayor during the November election creating a future vacancy on the City Council. Mayor-elect Hoyt's city council term would end on January 2, 2023. On December 14, 2020 the City Council interviewed eight candidates to fill the vacancy. Four of those candidates were selected as finalists and had a second interview.

The finalists included Joy Pearson, Rob Carpentier, Wendy Stenger and Phil Windschitl, none of whom ran as candidates for the two at-large City Council seats that were on the general election ballot. Phil Windschitl is a peace officer who serves on the Farmington Planning Commission and ran for City Council in 2018. Wendy Stenger is a Global Lead, External Workforce Programs at Thomson Reuters. Rob Carpentier is a teacher who previously was a candidate for the ISD 192 School Board and has served as a member of the Farmington Parks and Recreation Committee. Joy Pearson is the Founder and CEO of Finch & Daisy Consulting. More information is available in this Sun ThisWeek article.

Minn. Stat. § 412.02, subd. 2a, states that if a vacancy occurs any time other than during the period between the start of a candidate filing period and a regular election, then the vacancy must be filled by an appointment by the city council, and if the term of office that remains is "more than two years" at the time the vacancy occurs, a special election must be held to fill the vacancy. The statute says that if "less than two years remain in the unexpired term, there need not be a special election." The statute does not specify what process should be followed when the unexpired term is exactly two years rather than less or more than two years.

Updated: Jan 1

In 2016 Minnesota Statutes section 617.261 was enacted to criminalize revenge porn. In 2017 the Dakota County Attorney's Office charged an individual with violating the statute. After the defendant stipulated to the facts of the case, District Court Judge Jerome Abrams convicted the defendant and sentenced him to 23 months in prison in early 2019. On appeal later that year, a three-judge Minnesota Court of Appeals panel held that the statute is overbroad on its face in violation of the First Amendment. In doing so, the court noted that the statute "allows a person to be convicted ... even if he did not actually know that the person depicted in the image did not consent to the dissemination or that the image was obtained or created under circumstances in which the person depicted had a reasonable expectation of privacy" and "does not require proof that the disseminator caused or intended a specified harm."

On December 30, 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and upheld the statute. In doing so, the Court agreed that the statute applies to some speech that is protected by the First Amendment. However, the Court ruled that the statute serves a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to serving that interest. The Court noted that "to be prosecuted under the statute, a disseminator must act without consent." The Court elaborated in stating that "[i]n our view, it is not difficult to obtain consent before disseminating a private sexual image. Simply ask permission. We cannot imagine an emergency situation that requires the immediate dissemination of a private sexual image." The Court also noted that the statute "covers only private sexual images and does not prohibit speech that is 'at the core of protected First Amendment speech.'"

News coverage of the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision is available from the Star Tribune and the Associated Press. Previous coverage of the case is available from Courthouse News Service, Mpls. St.Paul Magazine, MPR News, and the Star Tribune.

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Our resident history instructor, Frank Sachs, will be teaching a class starting January 13, 2021, through ISD 191 Community Education. The class is titled We the People - American Foundations and will run for 7 weeks. The class will take a closer look at three founding documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution), our struggle to achieve self-governance, and each branch of the federal government. The class will meet weekly on Wednesdays via Zoom and you can register for either the 2-3 p.m. session or the 6-7 p.m. session. The cost is only $18 thanks to a grant from the Burnsville Lions Club!

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