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East Grand Forks has 3 council seats up for election, only 1 candidate

East Grand Forks City Council members meet at City Hall. (Grand Forks Herald)

The deadline to appear on the ballot for the East Grand Forks City Council is next week, and only one resident has applied for one of three seats up for election, according to City Hall.

Voters will decide Nov. 6 who will fill the council positions for Wards 2 and 4, as well as an at-large seat. The deadline to file and appear on the ballot is 5 p.m. Tuesday, but City Hall has not received any applications for the Ward 2 and at-large posts as of 3 p.m. Thursday, City Administrator David Murphy said.

Tim Johnson has applied for Ward 4, Murphy said.

Council members Henry Tweten and Mike Pokrzywinski decided they would not seek re-election this year when their terms are up in December. Tweten, who represents Ward 4, served two stints on the council—his first in the 1960s and a second that began in the 2000s.

Pokrzywinski, the Ward 2 council member, also served two separate terms—he served from 2008 to 2012 and took a break before being elected in 2014.

The at-large seat is held by council member Marc DeMers. The Herald left a message asking if he would seek re-election, but he did not respond by press time.

Council elections in East Grand Forks typically have at least one candidate, City Clerk Megan Nelson said. Each seat on the ballot in 2016 had a candidate, though they all ran unopposed, Murphy said. In 2014, the races for council were contested, he added.

He couldn't recall a council race since 2012 that had been open, but it is becoming more common in local elections to have races with no candidates.

"People just seem to be busier and are less apt to run for council," he said.

A person does not need to collect signatures to apply for a spot on the ballot for City Council. He or she must go to City Hall, fill out an application, turn it in and pay $2, Murphy said.

If the seat is open on the ballot, a person can campaign as a write-in candidate. There is no application process for write-ins, and the resident with the most votes for that seat will assume office, Murphy said.

If no one is written in, the council would have to appoint a person for a two-year term, which would cover the seat until the next election in 2020.

"That would be very unlikely," Murphy said when asked how often the council has to appoint a member because no one ran for the office.

The monthly salary for a council member is $500, Murphy said. Those who wish to run for office can visit the East Grand Forks City Hall at 600 DeMers Ave.

Eligible residents also can participate in early voting by direct balloting at City Hall for the primary election from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nelson said. Polls for the primary election are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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.

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