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City races take shape in northwest Minnesota

Local races in northwest Minnesota have taken shape, with some cities attracting multiple candidates.

"It's very exciting that we have a number of candidates," Crookston City Administrator Shannon Stassen said. "We talk about wanting people to be engaged in their city government and wanting to be a part of moving things forward in a positive way. I think that is a good indication that people want to."

In Crookston, five candidates, including two City Council members, are running for mayor after Wayne Melbye decided not to run for the city's lead post. Melbye was appointed in 2017. City Council members Clayton Briggs, who has represented Ward 3 since 2015, and Dale Stainbrook, who has been in the Ward 5 seat since 2008, will face off against Dean Adams, owner of Adams Heating and Cooling, and former City Council members Dana Johnson and Guy Martin.

The Stainbrook and Briggs seats are not up until 2020, but if one of them is elected mayor, the City Council would have to appoint a resident from their respective wards to fill the vacancy, Stassen said.

An at-large seat held by City Council member Bob Quanrud, who will not seek re-election, also has attracted five candidates. Council member Tom Vedbraaten has decided to forgo a bid for re-election to his Ward 6 seat for a shot at the at-large seat. He will face Kelly Shea, Dylane Klatt, Joe Kresl and Trent Brekken.

Ward 4, a seat held by one-term council member Dennis Regan, has two contestants—Donald Cavalier and Sharon Lewis. Regan will not seek re-election.

Ward 2 council member Steve Erickson is the lone candidate in his bid for re-election. Cindy Gjerswold is running unopposed for Ward 6.

The at-large post is of particular interest because the person who holds that seat has a chance to represent the entire city, Stassen said.

East Grand Forks

East Grand Forks' most crowded City Council race is the at-large seat held by Marc DeMers, who plans to run for re-election.

DeMers took the position in January 2015, though he previously served on the council from 2008 to 2012. He will face Mary Ann Laxen, a retired director of the physician's assistant program at UND, and Brian Larson, an associate director for UND's facilities management.

DeMers previously told the Herald he felt he had unfinished business in planning for the city's future. Laxen said she wants to be a voice for residents.

Larson said he was motivated by Mayor Steve Gander's speech of public service at the mayor's State of the City address this year.

"I would like to really emphasize a lot of the things that make East Grand Forks a great place to live and raise kids," he said, adding he wants to focus on providing opportunities for outdoor activities and attracting and retaining young residents.

Dale Helms, a former City Council member, plans to run for the seat representing Ward 2 after incumbent Mike Pokrzywinski decided not to run for his post.

Tim Johnson and Stuart Minske will compete for the Ward 4 seat, a position held by Henry Tweten since 2000. The longtime council member announced he would retire from city government at the end of the year.

Thief River Falls

Two races for a spot on the Thief River Falls City Council will be contested, including one that was left vacant when its incumbent resigned after he was involved in a fight at City Hall.

Gary Hintz, Chris Anderson, Mike Lorenson and Edward Turn have signed on to appear on the ballot for Ward 3, a position that was held by Joshua Hagen. He resigned from the seat in July, a week after a fight broke out during a committee meeting between him and council member Jerald Brown.

Court document allege Hagen beat Brown, and the former council member was charged with assault, a misdemeanor. He is awaiting trial in the case.

City Council member Steven Narverud will seek re-election for the at-large seat, but he will face a challenger in Joshua Thompson. Incumbents Curtis Howe, who represents Ward 1, and Rachel Prudhomme, the Ward 5 representative, also will run for their respective seats with no competition.

Mayor Brian Holmer will run unopposed for re-election.

Other races

Red Lake Falls

Mayor: Allen Bertilrud

Council Ward 1: Kevin Brevik

At-large: Briana Ingraham


Mayor: Jeff Pelowski

Council: Amy Bassingthwaite

Council: Brady Johnson


Mayor: Mara Hanel

Council: Justin Buegler

Council: John Golden

Council: David Weber

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