MARISA AGHA, Pioneer Press
April 24, 2003

What promises to be one of the most closely watched suburban races officially got under way Wednesday when the first candidate threw his hat in the ring for Roseville mayor.

The filing isn't until July, but City Council Member Craig Klausing formally announced the launch of his mayoral campaign in this politically embattled city.

Klausing is the first to declare his candidacy, but several others said they also are mulling a run. Among them: Council Member Tom Kough and resident Tam McGehee. Incumbent Mayor John Kysylyczyn said Wednesday that he remains undecided about seeking a second term.

The city's tumultuous political climate prompted Klausing to run for mayor, said Klausing, who has frequently clashed with Kysylyczyn over a number of issues. Adding to the volatile political atmosphere was a criminal investigation initiated by a resident into a vote by Kysylyczyn. The judge hearing the charges dismissed the case last month.

Klausing, who was appointed to the City Council in early 2001 and elected that fall, does not plan to resign from his council seat during the campaign. But if elected mayor, he would be required to relinquish his seat.

"I committed to serving for four years when I ran," Klausing said.

Klausing said he announced now because he wants to begin door-knocking immediately.

When asked whether he was surprised that Klausing had announced so early, Kysylyczyn said, "I could care less."

In a follow-up e-mail, Kysylyczyn said that he is now working hard on Roseville special legislation at the Capitol, which he said is "more important than election politics." In addition, the mayor was critical of Klausing's positions on several issues, arguing that he's "consistently supported raising taxes while opposing all efforts to trim unnecessary spending during these economic times."

Klausing countered with the response that he plans to conduct "a positive campaign that focuses on what I want to accomplish as mayor." The 47-year-old Roseville native said he wants "to help build a sense of community in Roseville and to really help turn the council into a more collaborative" body. Klausing also cited enhancing the city's housing stock and preserving its strong commercial base as goals.

Before joining the council, Klausing chaired the city's planning commission. By day, he is a senior assistant director with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, where he investigates and prosecutes attorney disciplinary cases.

Longtime Council Member Dean Maschka said he has ruled out running for mayor, but he is still deciding about whether to run again for his seat.

"I don't want a (mayoral) campaign in this environment," Maschka said.

Council Member Tom Kough, a former Austin, Minn., mayor, said he's still pondering a run.

"I'm waiting to see what John's gonna do," Kough said. "I'm very seriously considering it." Kough said a Kysylyczyn campaign would not prevent him from launching his own.

Ed Burrell, the city's former finance director and current chairman of the Roseville Citizens Council for Fair and Open Government -- a group that has called for Kysylyczyn's resignation -- said he does not plan to run again for council. Burrell lost to Kough in a squeaker election in 2001.

The filing period for candidates will be July 1 through July 15. The primary is Sept. 9, with the general election on Nov. 4.

Marisa Agha, who covers north suburban Ramsey County, can be reached at magha@pioneerpress.com or (651) 228-2109.

2003 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.