By Liz Collin

CHASKA, Minn. (WCCO) — A Facebook group aimed at pulling a southern suburb together is pulling it apart this election season.

The Real Life in Chaska page is run by a city council member up for re-election next month. When her co-administrator blocked her opponent from the community forum, it got plenty of attention from its Facebook followers.

Like many, Melissa Schoenberg would stay up-to-date on Chaska happenings on a popular Facebook page.

“There’s about 6,000 members in the group, so it’s a sizable number,” Schoenberg said. “It’s great when you want to ask for recommendations or just want to find out about local events as well.”

It wasn’t until she started researching her city council candidates that she realized a current council member, Paula Giesler, is co-administrator of Real Life in Chaska.

Schoenberg paid particular attention to a post congratulating a candidate in a different race, since the page rules state political posts aren’t allowed.

“If there is a no politics rule, that’s fine, but it should be enforced equally,” Schoenberg said.

Just as she started asking questions, Giesler’s opponent Jon Grau did, too.

After he spoke at a city council meeting in December, he says he was removed from the Facebook page the next day.

“The very next day, I was blocked,” Grau said.

Giesler says the timing isn’t correct.

Grau considers Giesler’s role a conflict of interest, concerned she’s controlling the message citizens see. His posts about curling and PGA events were taken down.

“I’m also a resident of Chaska and that site is set up to be a community for residents of Chaska, and I wasn’t posting anything different than she posts,” Grau said.

Geisler responded to the controversy.

“He’s after name recognition, that’s what he wants, and he’s getting it in a really obtuse way,” Geisler said.

Geisler says Grau was removed for violating page rules — commenting on old posts to bring them to the top to increase visibility. Grau denies that.

“As far as people saying I shouldn’t be on it, I just think that’s ridiculous,” Geisler said.

Grau says he’s moved on to knocking on more doors, opting for a more old-fashioned campaign away from Facebook.

“I’m not going to sit on the couch and cry about it,” Grau said. “If I want to represent people, I have to get out and know people, too.”

Attorneys told WCCO that elected officials are allowed to be administrators as long as the group is a private page on Facebook and not run by a government body. So, what Geisler is doing is protected under the law.

Comments (5)
  1. Carol Gibbs says:

    Many would have you believe that “A Facebook group aimed at pulling a southern suburb together is pulling it apart this election season.” However this is untrue and a GROSS misstatement! In reality, any division has been caused by a few people who chose to violate the terms of the group and who were removed as a result. It also falls on the shoulders of a reporter who has not researched her story well enough to preset a fair and honest report by properly vetting the story and the people behind it. Real Life in Chaska was conceived and started as a l group which was to be a tool for residents to exchange information, find help for products, and to stay up to date on what’s going on in the city through friendly interaction between members. It was never intended to be a forum for political debate. The attacks on Paula Geisler, who happens to be an admin on the group are absolutely unfounded and unfair, have nothing to do with furthering her candidacy for city council. The minute the political posts started to pop up the admins put a stop to it, as they well should have. It was the right and prudent decision. Politics was NEVER to be a part of the group, and the admins did the right thing, with no ulterior motives being involved, just the protection and keeping the group as it had been from its inception. As an admin, Paula had every chance to turn her head and allow posts or make posts that would further her candidacy, but she didn’t do that. She wouldn’t have because her integrity is too great for that.

    This group itself is not creating any division whatsoever. The division is being created by people who posted on the group outside the stated policies. They had no right to do that. It is a private group and will stay that way. They have found other venues on which to post their feelings and beliefs, but sill, they whine about being removed from Real Life in Chaska. It is time for them to grow up, face fact and reality, and be happy with the groups they have which allow them to post whatever they like.

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