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Rochester challenger, three incumbents win

11/03/2015 - Four incumbents and three challengers squared off Tuesday, November 3, over four Rochester city council seats, with newcomer Ann Peterson prevailing over incumbent Steve Sage, and council members Ben Giovanelli, Rob Ray and Kim Russell winning re-election.

With a total vote of 7,171 out of 10,098 registered voters, Russell received the highest total, 1,599 votes, for 22.3 percent of the votes cast. Ray had 1,496 votes, for 20.86 percent, and Giovanelli received 1,279 votes, or 17.84 percent of the total. Peterson, in fourth place, had 1,234 votes, for 17.21 percent.

The Rochester City Council is comprised of seven members. Six members are elected for staggered four-year terms, with one member, the lowest vote-getter during a four-member election, elected for a two-year term. In this election, Russell, Ray and Giovanelli have been elected for a four-year term, with Peterson elected for a two-year term.

Peterson, a real estate broker and business owner, was thrilled with her win. "I'm excited," she said on election night. "From the beginning I always wanted to serve. I'm looking forward to working really hard to keep Rochester economically growing in the right direction, and taking care of residents. I'm so in awe right now. I'm very honored to have the community support and I really look forward to serving the community in the next few years."

"It's fantastic to see the support of the community and I'm so honored to serve the great city of Rochester again," said Russell. "I look forward to serving with Ann (Peterson); I think she will do an excellent job. This is her third time running for city council."

Giovanelli, currently the city's mayor, said upon winning his third term, "Four more years. Four more years. It's great; glad its over with, now we can get back to city's business." He said he is looking towards taking care of the discrepancy between the east and west side of the city relative to water and sewage rates, finding ways to diversify housing stock, and extending Letica Street to South Street, which is in the master plan.

"It was great to come off my first term, which was two years, and then get a four-year term," said Ray.

Rochester City Council meets twice a month. Each November, council elects a council member to serve as the mayor for a one-year term. Current mayor Jeffrey Cuthbertson will turn the gavel over next Monday evening and return to council. In Rochester, the office of mayor is primarily an honorary title, with no more importance on the council than any other member. The mayor helps set the agenda, works with the city manager, represents the city as its elected official, and can perform marriages. Pay for all council members is nominal.

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