West St. Paul Sun front page from November 11, 1970 with 1970 election results

1970: Youngest Mayor in West St. Paul History

Thanks to Cherokee Service for their support.

On Nov. 3, 1970, West St. Paul elected the youngest mayor in its history, 25-year-old James R. Husman.

1970’s Mayoral Election

Former West St. Paul Mayor James R. Husman

In 1970, two-term mayor Rollin Crawford didn’t seek reelection, setting up a race between Husman, a sitting City Council Member and chemist with the University of Minnesota, and Jerry Scribner, a school teacher and former chair of the Planning Commission. Husman won with about 58% of the vote.

Resignation

Husman didn’t last long as he resigned after a year in office and moved to New Hampshire to complete his doctorate in chemistry. He noted being reluctant to leave, but felt his future was in chemistry and not politics. Former Mayor Robert Callahan was appointed to fill out his term.

At about the same time, the city manager, public works director, and parks and recreation director all resigned. Husman criticized the City Council on his way out, arguing that they were undermining the city manager and conducting backroom deals. Council Members responded by pointing to Husman’s “temper tantrums” and noting that he couldn’t get along with others.

Mayoral resignations are not uncommon in West St. Paul. There have been four mayoral resignations in our history, with Husman’s being the most recent. Our first ever mayor, Philip Crowley, also resigned.

Oldest & Youngest

Over the years, West St. Paul’s mayors have generally been younger. Husman’s predecessor Crawford was the previous youngest mayor, elected at the age of 26 in 1966. Our 29 mayors going back to 1889 have an average age of 41 when first elected.

Our oldest ever mayor was also our first, Philip Crowley, elected in 1889 at the age of 70. Current Mayor Dave Napier is likely the third oldest at 59 when he took office in 2019.

So that means West St. Paul’s oldest and youngest ever mayors both resigned from office.

Husman passed away in 2017 at the age of 72.

Other Items of Interest From 1970

  • If at first you don’t succeed: While incumbents mostly won the Council races, that wasn’t it for the losers. Robert Kelly and Thomas Stassen both lost their City Council races, but they’d go on to run again in 1972 and both would win.
  • Non-consecutive terms: The one non-incumbent Council Member to win was Alvin Jarvis, though he was a former Council Member who had served from 1959 to 1964. This time around, Jarvis would stay on Council until 1977.
  • Former mayors: There’s a former mayor on the ballot for City Council today, just as there was in 1970. Former Mayor Robert Callahan, who served from 1965 to 1966, ran for a Ward 3 City Council seat in 1970 and came up short. Today, former Mayor David Meisinger is also on the ballot for Ward 3 (Like Callahan, Meisinger came up short when running for Council in 2018).

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