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Sweeney defeats Haddad in County Board race

Incumbent Peg Sweeney won re-election to the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, with voters in Duluth's suburbs picking experience over change.

Incumbent Peg Sweeney won re-election to the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, with voters in Duluth's suburbs picking experience over change.

Sweeney defeated political newcomer Sam Haddad in the Fifth District race.

The district covers two far western Duluth neighborhoods, Proctor, Hermantown and the townships that encircle Duluth.

While many incumbents saw trouble on Tuesday, including Sweeney's fellow longtime county commissioner Bill Kron of Duluth, Sweeney said voters saw that she wasn't at the root of infighting and other problems on the County Board in 2007.

"I've never done anything negative against any of my opponents and didn't this time either," Sweeney said. "I think vot-ers saw that we've been doing some good things ... and I think people saw through efforts to connect me to what happened in 2007."

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Sweeney, 64, a former Proctor city councilor, has held the seat since 1996.

Haddad, 53, is a heavy equipment operator for the county. He lives in Rice Lake Township.

Haddad has been a vocal critic of the County Board over the past year, blasting commissioners for their hiring of former County Attorney Alan Mitchell as interim county administrator and for disrespecting current County Attorney Melanie Ford.

Haddad criticized Sweeney's attendance record at county meetings and said the incumbent has become out of touch with town officials and residents.

"What I heard out in the township is that they don't even know who their commissioner is," Haddad said.

While Sweeney wasn't directly involved in County Board turmoil in 2007, and though she opposed hiring Mitchell, Haddad said all incumbents, including Sweeney, should be replaced to restore credibility and accountability.

Sweeney said she's proud of the county's minimal tax increases in recent years and of the county's balanced budget for 2008 and 2009 without major layoffs or cuts in services.

"We're doing our work, and people see that we're providing the services," Sweeney said.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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