So you want to be a public servant?

You too could be mayor of St. Paul! Just answer a dozen of the most preposterous, frivolous, and insultingly direct questions you could ever hope to encounter in your whole squirming political life.

8. What will be your epitaph?

"I was in a 'values-clarification' class where you had to write your own obituary. It was one of those 1970s sociology kind of classes. [Laughs again and hums a song that isn't the Twilight Zone.] This is so corny, but it is totally me: 'Believed in America, believed in people, believed in service.' Then I'd have my name, when I lived, and my dogs Tigger and The Pilgrim next to me."


Accuracy: So Rettman was tripped up on the F. Scott Fitzgerald question and doesn't know who wrote A Farewell to Arms. (Ernest Hemingway, if you're scared to ask.) But it's clear that she doesn't give a rip, either, so it's hard to really knock her point total down on that one. Charles Schulz actually lived above O'Gara's. Close enough. 42 points

Style: Are you kidding?! It's all there: The Twilight Zone, the constant giggling and endless amusement, the groovy social-values class, the single-woman-with-two-great-dogs shtick, the staggering knowledge of St. Paul strip clubs gleaned despite her defense of her own personal purity, the obvious predilection toward watching professional wrestling, the gentle encouragement for everyone to move to St. Paul, come home, and just be themselves. 47 points

Mitigating factor: The parking-ticket thing seems too disingenuous. Nobody could be that sweet-hearted. And if she really is, how will she kick ass at city hall? Then again, she did at one time befriend a future murderer and claims Sharon Sayles Belton as a buddy. 0 points




Born November 15, 1945 in Pontiac, Michigan. Moved to St. Paul in 1957. Graduated University of Minnesota in 1974; earned a master's in public administration from the University of Southern California in 1981, currently pursuing doctorate in public administration at Hamline University. Appointed to several city positions, most recently the director of the Office of License, Inspections and Environmental Protection, a job he resigned to run for mayor. Married to Gwen Kessler; two daughters.

Political Party: Independent

Official Web Site:

1. True or false: St. Paul has a city ordinance prohibiting sodomy.

"That's true; it's a city ordinance that... Wait, did that come off the books or not? That's the whole adult-entertainment thing. You have to have the basic body parts covered, and you can't do anything that would represent a sexual act, so in that ordinance you couldn't do sodomy. We got around the whole thing with the idea of putting up a glass wall, so there has to be that in those kinds of clubs. I was in the "Better Neighborhoods" program for [former St. Paul Mayor] George Latimer in the 1970s, so I learned quick on that one. But as far as anything outside of that? The sodomy law is a state thing."

2. Where's the best place to behead a Snoopy statue?

"Down by the river there on Warner Road, where Lambert's Landing is. There's a nice park and a nice walkway, and the ones that were down there were pretty isolated."

3. In case of nuclear attack, how do you plan to save St. Paul?

"The only thing that could help us would be prayer."

4. Which character on The Simpsons do you most relate to and why?

"I don't watch that show. My kids of course do, but I don't. Other than Bart, I don't know anyone. He is the Michael J. Fox of cartoonland."

5. If you had to be food on a stick at the state fair, which would it be and why?

"Probably would have to be ham, because I like to tell really bad jokes. Here's one: Why can't the Vikings eat cereal? Whenever they get close to a bowl, they choke."

6. Are there skeletons in your closet we should know about?

"At one time I was a card-carrying member of the Young Republicans and [at another time] a McGovern Democrat, and I think people should know that."

7. Why does St. Paul put Minneapolis to shame?

"The little quirks we love about St. Paul, like Cretin Avenue turning into Vandalia, and Wabasha just sort of vanishing on the east. Minneapolis is Wonder Bread and St. Paul is pumpernickel.

8. What will be your epitaph?

"He enjoyed life to the fullest, and died doing what he loved to do--which is probably going to be running. I run five or six miles every other day. I've run in every Twin Cities Marathon."


Accuracy: While he missed most of the basic questions, Kessler's firm grasp of the sodomy ordinance almost got us all steamed up. And he offered the only "right" answer in case of nuclear attack we've seen. 28 points

Style: We were bored to tears when the quiz was interrupted so Kessler could get a demonstration of a new fireplace he was having installed in his home. Additionally, he prattled on far too long about politics. Yawn. Otherwise, we rather like someone who obviously has really thought about which Snoopy to decapitate. Also, kudos for the Young Republicans confession (and recognizing it as a very scary skeleton indeed). 38 points

Mitigating factor: Anyone who doesn't know The Simpsons is not trustworthy in any regard, let alone much fun. And the Michael J. Fox comparison is square and inexcusable. Good thing there's a limit to how many points one can lose in this category. -10 points

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