A Rosemount City Council member has resigned after an incident with someone she calls a “political extremist” and city police at her home shook up her family, making her believe she could no longer serve as an unbiased city leader.
The incident also resulted in her son, Daniel Joseph Tesch, 20, being charged with disorderly conduct, along with two others.
Tammy Block, who had served on the council since 2018, resigned at the Sept. 6 City Council meeting.
“I never would have thought a political extremist would show up at my home not once, not twice but three times … intimidating, threatening and harassing my family,” Block said at the meeting. “Given my experience with the process from beginning to end and the situation as a whole, I don’t feel I can continue as an impartial council member.”
Block said that given the political climate, it could happen again.
The incident occurred on Aug. 2 when a man delivered a petition related to the upcoming primary election to Block’s home, in addition to dropping it off at other council members’ homes and Rosemount City Hall, Rosemount City Administrator Logan Martin said.
After two unsuccessful attempts earlier that day, Drew William Roach, 37, of Farmington, hand-delivered a petition about 8:30 or 8:45 p.m. seeking to stop the upcoming primary elections, which the petition said were being conducted illegally, Martin said.
“They were basically trying to stop the voting in the primary … with the machines as presented,” said Martin, referencing the electronic voting machines from Dominion that Dakota County loans Rosemount for elections.
The petition was about the machines’ software programs, which had undergone some version upgrades, Martin said. The petitioners believed those upgrades amounted to a new voting system and should have gone through a public comment period, Martin said.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon made a statement about the upgrades, saying they were similar to an iPhone’s automatic updates and they didn’t necessitate a public notice process, Martin said.
The petition was brought by Bill Kieffer and Erik van Mechelen of Minneapolis. Van Mechelen, a Republican candidate for Secretary of State this year who garnered 37% of the primary vote, noted on his “Midwest Seeds” blog that he has spoken at county board meetings about flaws with the electronic voting system.
It’s unclear exactly what happened when Roach arrived, but “a verbal altercation that led to a physical altercation” occurred and Roach, Tesch and resident Marco Antonio Arriaga, 49, were present, Martin said.
Efforts to reach van Mechelen and Roach were unsuccessful.
On his blog, van Mechelen said that Roach was “grabbed by the throat” by Tesch and “put in a choke hold in the street not far from his truck with kids inside.”
Van Mechelen added: “Roach was able to land a punch and break free as neighbors came out of their houses.”
Roach has “lingering injuries, including chest and back pain,” and his children are still “emotional” about the incident, van Mechelen said.
When reached by phone, Block wouldn’t comment on the incident.
Block said she was frustrated that she received only an email, not a phone call or text, from the city alerting her that an “agitated” person would be coming to deliver paperwork.
She was also upset that her son — along with Roach and Arriaga — was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct for defending the family’s home, she said.
“A stranger had the ability to come to my home and harm my family emotionally and physically and we are told we are the ones in the wrong by defending ourselves,” she said.
She said Arriaga, who was the first to encounter Roach and the only person of color there, was “not given the opportunity to make a statement at the scene” while “an eyewitness who saw only the final seconds of what occurred” was allowed by police to act as an “impartial witness.”
Arriaga had to go to the police department afterward and make a statement, she said.
In a statement, Rosemount Police Chief Mikael Dahlstrom said he was “disappointed” at how Block recounted the night’s events.
“I’ve personally reviewed the body cam footage from that incident and I am confident that our officers followed policy and procedure. Mr. Arriaga spoke with an officer for over four minutes, in which time our officer remained professional and respectful,” the statement said.
Martin noted that the case was sent to Apple Valley police to ensure officials were unbiased in charging decisions.
He said he was “pretty confident” that sending Block and other council members an email alerting them of the petition delivery was enough. He sent the email about 3 p.m. and Block replied that she’d gotten it about 5:30 p.m. There was no indication the man was agitated, he said.
Martin, who also saw camera footage, said the Rosemount officers “had detailed conversations” with everyone present. What Block shared at the City Council meeting was inaccurate, he said.
In a statement, Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste was supportive of police, who serve the community “with a steadfast commitment to fairness”.
Though Block resigned from her council role, her name will still appear on city ballots in November as a City Council candidate because the withdrawal deadline had passed, Martin said. She was running unopposed.
A special election will have to be held to fill her seat if she doesn’t take it, he said.