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Marc DeMers, Mary Ann Laxen to face each other in East Grand Forks election

An East Grand Forks City Council member will seek re-election this November, and he will have a challenger.

Marc DeMers told the Herald on Friday he plans to run for his at-large seat. The council member has held the post since January 2015, though he previously served on the council from 2008 to 2012.

"It's always a tough decision when you decide whether or not you are going to run for office," he said. "I feel like I have unfinished business to do in East Grand Forks on that council."

He and Mary Ann Laxen, the retired director of the physician's assistant program at UND, both filed paperwork to appear on the ballot Nov. 6.

"If I am willing to say in public anything about the city, whether good or bad, I should be able to also help make it possible," Laxen said.

The deadline to file for a spot on the ballot is 5 p.m. Tuesday, but no one had filed applications as of Thursday morning. Laxen said she read about the city's situation in the newspaper.

"I'm very proud of our city, and I really felt bad when I found out nobody is running," she said. "That doesn't make sense because we have a good city and we have to keep it that way."

DeMers is the only council member running for another term in office, but three seats will appear on the ballot. Council members Mike Pokrzywinski, who represents Ward 2, and Henry Tweten of Ward 4 decided not to run for re-election.

No one had applied for the Ward 4 spot as of 3 p.m. Friday, City Administrator David Murphy said. Tim Johnson has applied to run for Ward 2.

The Herald was unable to reach Johnson for comment.

Both said they were happy with the direction the city was going. DeMers said the city has more work to do with budgeting, finding "sustainable revenue solutions" for infrastructure and enhancing life in the city, and he wants to build on the momentum

"I think we are on a good growth trajectory, and that growth isn't just in numbers of people but also in the growth of the strength of our community," he said.

Laxen said she hopes to ensure the city is fiscally responsible and wants to delve into issues, adding she has a long background in administration, higher education and health care.

"I hope to be a voice for some people who maybe don't always have a voice," she said.

DeMers and Laxen said competition is good because it shows people want to be involved in governing. Laxen said she hopes to send a message that it is a residents' responsibility to help serve in government if they want to accomplish something in the city.

"If we can have more people involved and interested in having diversity of opinion and vision, I think that is a good thing," DeMers said.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248
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