Just days after filing paperwork to run for a third term, incumbent has pulled his name out of the 2011 St. Louis Park City Council race, citing "personal attacks" made against him and his family. Omodt, who withdrew his name on Wednesday, said the alleged personal attacks are from people linked to one of the two challengers for his seat.
Omodt, who was first elected in 2002, had filed paperwork last week signifying his desire to run again. He wouldn’t specify the source or substance of the personal attacks, only that “other community members” were responsible.
“The people (making the attacks) know exactly who they are,” Omodt said.
Steve Hallfin, who is now one of the two candidates for the council seat, said he was "shocked" by the news of Omodt pulling out.
Hallfin said he spoke to Omodt about a week ago about his plans to run, hoping the incumbent would get behind him if he decided not to seek a third term. Hallfin said he told Omodt that he hadn't seen him as much lately because Omodt's kids don't go to St. Louis Park Schools, but Hallfin said he didn't mean any harm by that statement.
"I thought it was actually a very pleasant conversation," Hallfin said. "There was never any intention to threaten him in any way."
Hallfin added that he did not know of anyone else who may have talked to Omodt about where his children go to school, and said he had not planned on bringing the issue up had Omodt stayed in the race.
"My intention was to run on my record," Hallfin said, "not on any other candidate."
Justin Kaufman, who is the other candidate for the seat, said he and his campaign never threatened or attacked Omodt. Kaufman said Omodt actually called him right before he removed his name to tell him about the situation.
"I was very surprised to hear Paul was dropping out and very surprised to hear the reasons why," said Kaufman, who added that as a father of three himself, he understood Omodt's reasoning.
"The circumstances are unfortunate," Kaufman said. "I would just hope that the campaign moving forward takes a more positive note."
Omodt said he didn’t think twice about pulling his name from the list for the sake of his family.
“It was not a hard decision,” the councilman said. “I don’t want to put my family through that.”
Omodt said he enjoys living in St. Louis Park and doesn’t intend to move because of the alleged personal attacks.
“I have a nice house, and it’s a nice community,” he said.
Mayor Jeff Jacobs said he was surprised by the news of Omodt pulling out as well.
"I'll certainly miss him and the valuable perspective he brings," Jacobs said in an email, "along with his skills as a person to find solutions to difficult issues."
Omodt is now the second incumbent to not seek reelection, as Phil Finkelstein announced two weeks ago he would . Omodt and Finkelstein currently hold the council's two at-large positions. The only other seat up for election is that of the mayor, and Jacobs was the only person to file.
Three people are jockeying for Finkelstein's spot after the fourth, Lisa Miller, removed her name on Thursday. Per state law, candidates can withdrawal their names within two days of the end of the filing period. St. Louis Park's filing period ended Tuesday at 5 p.m., meaning other declared candidates have until Thursday afternoon to withdraw.
For more on the 2011 city election, see .