Massad, Leonard advance in Mankato's mayoral primary

·3 min read

Aug. 11—MANKATO — Incumbent Najwa Massad, by a wide margin, and challenger Toby Leonard advanced in Mankato's mayoral primary election Tuesday.

They'll face off in November's general election. John Martin West won't be on the ballot after finishing third in the primary.

Massad, elected as Mankato's first woman mayor in 2018, earned 4,111 votes, or 76.8%.

The strong result was humbling, Massad said Wednesday.

"It just makes you proud," she said. "I'm thankful the community knows I'm trying to do the best I can."

She hopes to carry the momentum into November's general election.

"You can never let your guard down," she said. "We're going to go out strong and have to let the community know we hear them and are thankful."

Leonard, who also ran for mayor in 2018, received 672 votes, or 12.6%. He beat out West's 567 votes, or 10.6%.

Planning to kick his general election campaign into gear soon, Leonard said he's well up for the challenge.

"We're laying groundwork between now and September," he said. "We're prepping for it and excited for the challenge."

Apart from Massad's big margin throughout the night, observers had little clarity on the vote totals between when precincts closed at 8 p.m. and the revised totals came in after 11 p.m. Human error led to incomplete vote totals being released, followed by fluctuating numbers as officials worked to correct it.

At about 10:50 p.m. the Minnesota secretary of state's election results page showed only 632 total votes with 18 of 19 precincts reporting, seemingly indicating most results from precincts were posted. The vote total as of late Tuesday and Wednesday, still unofficial until the county and state canvas the results, was 5,350.

The Secretary of State's Office noted in an email that the precinct information on its results page only indicates the percentage reporting some amount of results, not that they've completed reporting results. It acknowledged human error goes into the reporting process.

"Since elections are conducted by humans, sometimes there are issues or unexpected events throughout the reporting process," the email stated. "Through the numerous procedures that are in place, if those issues or unexpected events cause errors they can quickly be caught and corrected."

The county and state identified what the issue was, essentially an error in submitting and posting early voting totals that had to be undone for submissions to proceed. So the results on the site were correct each time, although incomplete until later in the evening, said Blue Earth County election official Michael Stalberger.

"The totals were actual vote totals; it was just never the complete picture," he said.

Massad and Leonard said they did experience difficulties trying to follow the results after polls closed.

"You always want to know what's going on," said Massad about election night, adding you sometimes have to be patient. She hadn't seen the vote totals yet when a Mankato City Council member texted her congratulations on winning the primary.

Leonard met with volunteers at the Loose Moose to await results. He saw the site's vote totals fluctuate at times and reminded people there were still plenty of results to report.

"I suspected there were a lot more votes," he said. "I wasn't too panicky."

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola