Mayor Of Loretto, Minn., Knows How To Play Ball
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Greg Echlin reports on a man who is sometimes called a mayor, a ballplayer and a student, all on the same day.
GREG ECHLIN: Loretto is a town of 650 sitting on the western edge of Hennepin County, the same county where Minneapolis is situated. It's only a half-of-a square mile, so there aren't any stoplights. The busiest part of town is the railroad crossing, where freight trains pass through daily.
(SOUNDBITE OF A WHISTLING TRAIN)
ECHLIN: Across the street from the railroad tracks is the Choo Choo Restaurant. That's where Jim Olson is enjoying a beverage at the bar. He's unfazed by the fact that Loretto's mayor, Kent Koch, is playing today with the St. Cloud Huskies. Olson voted for Koch and he likes his new mayor.
JIM OLSON: I think the best part about it is he's probably young enough he doesn't really have an agenda, you know, a personal agenda that to say. And it's kind of exciting to have some new blood, young blood in town that cares about the city.
ECHLIN: Former Mayor Barry Andersen, who owns the Choo Choo Restaurant, decided not to run again. The only other candidate was Tom Van Beusekom, a last minute write-in candidate who served as the town mayor in the 1980s. Koch said he felt compelled to run.
KENT KOCH: The rumor was around town that no one wanted to do it. And I felt like that was pretty sad that no one would want to step up to the plate and take on this responsibility.
(SOUNDBITE OF A WHISTLE AND A BASEBALL GAME)
ECHLIN: Despite making only a few thousand a year as mayor, Koch says he knew what he was getting into, sort of.
KOCH: I did. But at the same time, it's still been an eye-opening experience so far. You know, you don't really get a whole lot of background information. You get a little orientation before, but it really wasn't as much preparing that I really would have liked, I guess, or expected.
ECHLIN: When the word filtered around the St. Cloud State baseball team last fall, few took Koch's political ambitions seriously, including his coach, Pat Dolan.
PAT DOLAN: He ended up calling me 'cause it was on his Facebook page. You know how kids are. Sometimes they put stuff on Facebook just as joking around and stuff. But he called me after. And first I was concerned about it because how does a guy be a mayor of a city and then also be a full-time student, much less be a baseball player?
KOCH: All right. And we already have discussion on that.
ECHLIN: On this day, fresh from a doubleheader sweep, Koch is now in the center seat as mayor, only 10 minutes after the meeting started.
KOCH: Okay, we had a motion in second. Any further discussion? All in favor say aye.
KOCH: Opposed? Motion carried.
ECHLIN: For NPR news, I'm Greg Echlin.
INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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