Future of the city the focus of Lilydale council race

On the Lilydale ballot this November, four candidates are running for two council seats and the incumbent mayor is running unopposed.

Incumbents council members Anita Pampusch and John Diehl are being challenged by Jay Budge and Daniel Gore. 

The Review asked the candidates via email why there are running, what skills and experiences they would bring to the office, what they believe to be the top challenges the city faces and what issues or projects they would prioritize if elected.

Incumbent Mayor Warren Peterson elected to not submit a response to the candidate questionnaire. Budge opted not to answer, as well.


Anita Pampusch, who didn’t provide her age, has held her council seat since being appointed to it in 2017 as a replacement for a council member who resigned for health reasons. Before this, she was elected to the council in 2006, and served one term before being elected mayor in 2010. She served three, two-year terms as mayor. 

Pampusch said she was primarily employed in higher education and served as a faculty member, academic dean and president of St. Catherine University from 1970 to 1997. She spent 10 years as president of the Bush Foundation in St. Paul before retiring in 2007. 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in math and chemistry from St. Catharine University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.

Pampusch said she has a long history of working as an administrator and in city government.

“I believe that I bring expertise in leadership, in working well with others, in critical thinking, and in public speaking to whatever I pursue. As mayor of Lilydale I initiated the first Lilydaze, a community gathering to bring the residents together,” she said.

Pampusch added the main challenge facing Lilydale is life on the bluff and river — “Our biggest assets are also areas of concern, particularly with bluff erosion.” 

Pampusch also said she was concerned with “the aging of the residents and the housing stock.”

John Diehl, 76, has had his seat on the council for eight years. He works as a lawyer at Larkin Hoffman Law Firm and lives in the city with his wife Karyn. Diehl earned his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law.

Diehl said the skills he would bring with him if re-elected include experience in government leadership and administration, specifically experience in Lilydale governance, management and long-range planning, legal matters including municipal law and good listening skills. 

“My role in my various governance and leadership experiences has often been to synthesize others’ good ideas to help build a cohesive consensus approach to issues,” said Diehl.

He said he’s running to serve the people of Lilydale by giving attention to the requirements imposed on the city, to work on problems experienced by residents and to arrange and deliver the services residents expect. 

The four challenges he sees facing the city include effective management of routine city business, the redevelopment of the River Bluff Center Property, effective and efficient management of surface water quality and planning the city’s connection with developing metro mass transit systems, if possible. 

Diehl said the routine business of the city needs regular attention and none of it can be ignored. 

“The top of the ‘extraordinary’ agenda will probably be the redevelopment project of the River Bluff Center (the Moose Country Restaurant site), but circumstances, not individual intentions, tend to drive the priorities,” he said. 


Daniel Gore, 51, lives in the city with his wife Jene. He serves as president of Creative Matters, is an instructor at the University of Minnesota and a professional driver with Northfield Lines. Gore has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

He said his skills include strategic planning, critical thinking and analysis, fiscal management, communication and marketing. 

“I am focused towards retirement and I have the opportunity to serve my community with my time and skills,” he said. “I want to be the next generation of ambassadors and stewards to carry forward the work of those who have already served.”

Gore said his work at and for Fortune 100, nonprofit and minority-owned businesses gives him insights into what is practical and possible under the most challenging of situations. 

He added that Lilydale is well positioned for the coming years and he looks forward to continuing to “nurture it on behalf of our citizens.”

“Our city’s limitations may be financial or may be our dependence on others’ infrastructure, but I believe Lilydale has greater assets [than it does] challenges,” Gore said. 

He added his priority if elected is to nurture and project the character of Lilydale. He said he would commit all of his “intellectual resources and skills to maintain, improve and enhance the city’s progress.”


Election Day is Nov. 6. To find your polling place visit www.pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.


-Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienws.com

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