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Osowski, Lunski appear to clinch Grand Forks City Council contests

The two newcomers will join the City Council, while City Council President Dana Sande will retain his seat after his uncontested race.

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Voters brave a thunderstorm to cast their ballots on Tuesday morning, June 14, 2022, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Rebecca Osowski and Tricia Lunski appeared to win two contested Grand Forks City Council races on Tuesday evening, reorganizing the council and launching it into what’s sure to be two years of hard work before the next round of council elections.

Here’s a look at both of those races, and an uncontested race that returned City Council President Dana Sande to City Hall.

RELATED: Grand Forks City Council candidates: A look at their answers to six questions from the Herald

Ward 2

In Ward 2, Osowski appeared to have won the race as of 9:25 p.m., with 58.8% of the vote and 365 ballots cast, pulling ahead of Matthew Ternus, who had 41.1% and 255 votes.

Both precincts had been fully counted, the North Dakota Secretary of State website indicated. The new Ward 2 includes the northern side of downtown and the industrial portion of the city north of Gateway Drive.

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Osowski, a sales support specialist for LM Wind Power, had said she’s most focused on taxes and inflationary burdens on area families. She called for more communication in her district from City Hall on Fufeng Group’s arrival, and said the city’s biggest under-discussed challenge is City Hall’s connection with everyday citizens.

“Just representing the people of Ward 2 is what I’m looking forward to doing to the best of my abilities,” Osowski said Tuesday evening, thanking voters for their support.

The likely arrival of Chinese agribusiness Fufeng Group is of special concern in Ward 2 — many residents could be new neighbors to the company’s massive planned corn-milling plant.

Ternus is the former UND student body president — now a staffer at the Community Violence Intervention Center. He touted a “3A” platform to make Grand Forks more “affordable” and “accessible” while setting “achievable” goals. He thinks citizens need a louder voice in ongoing discussions to bring Fufeng Group to the city. The city’s biggest unsung issue, he said, is its need to retain college graduates.

Ternus said in a late evening text message that he had spoken to Osowski to congratulate her and offer his support.

“I’m excited to see where our city goes, and am happy to see so many people voting!” he said.

RELATED: What are your top priorities? Grand Forks City Council candidates respond

Ward 4

Lunski appeared to win the Ward 4 race. Shortly after 10:20 people, she had 46.5% of the vote and 573 ballots cast, pulling ahead of Ward Johnson, with 31.9% and 393 votes, and Harry Samuelson, with 21.4% and 264 votes.

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Ward 4 stretches along much of Grand Forks’ east-side border with the Red River. Both precincts in the ward have been fully counted.

Lunski, co-owner of HB Sound & Light, said she wants to retain Grand Forks residents — especially its youngest — and help foster a friendly small-business environment. She supports a new bridge in Ward 4, but recognized it’s a contentious issue, and said she wants to work with local residents to find a solution.

“I’d rather wait until tomorrow (to declare victory), just to be sure,” Lunski said Tuesday night. Asked for her message to voters, she said she’s grateful, and excited and nervous at the apparent opportunity to serve.

Johnson, a former attorney, businessman and ex-Army colonel, had said during the campaign that he’s most focused on “citywide economic stability” as well as “full funding for police and fire.” He opposes building a new bridge across the Red River in Ward 4.

Johnson did not immediately return a request for comment.

Samuelson, a mechanic at Nelson International, said his top issue is focusing on controlling city spending — making sure that it doesn’t become a problem for Grand Forks residents’ pocketbooks. He is opposed to a new bridge in Ward 4.

“Thank you for trying to get a change,” he said to his voters. “Truly, I believe this is going to be four more years of the same old thing that’s been going on in Grand Forks. I wish I’d gotten around and been able to talk to more people.”

Ward 6

City Council President Dana Sande was unopposed in the city’s central southern end. Shortly after 10:20 p.m., he had 96.1% of the vote and 425 ballots cast. Both precincts in the ward were counted.

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Sande was first elected to the council in 2010. During the campaign, he had said that his top priorities are creating jobs and completing big infrastructure projects.

Reached on Tuesday evening, Sande thanked voters.

“I will continue to keep doing the work for the people. … This is obviously my last run, and it’s probably going to be four of the hardest years that I’ll spend (in office), but also four of the most rewarding,” he said.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2022
Sam Easter is a freelance reporter who has been a regular contributor to the Herald since 2019. He covers a variety of topics, including government and politics.

In 2015, he joined the Herald’s staff as City Hall reporter, covering North Dakota politics at all levels and conducting Herald investigations through early 2018, when he began his freelancing career.

Easter can be reached at samkweaster@gmail.com or via Twitter via @samkweaster.
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