Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



voter turnout in East Grand Forks

With a school referendum, the mayor's seat and an at-large City Council seat at stake, voter turnout in East Grand Forks was overwhelming on Election Day.

With a school referendum, the mayor's seat and an at-large City Council seat at stake, voter turnout in East Grand Forks was overwhelming on Election Day.

So much so that, at press time, not enough votes had been counted to definitively call any citywide race.

This was because of election workers counting votes by hand - voting machines were too expensive for just a city election - and the enormous turnout in Ward 1, which apparently had more than 800 voters. The next biggest turnout was in Ward 5 with 537 votes.

With votes from Wards 2 through 5 and from rural East Grand Forks, the referendum option that would increase school funding by $500 per student won 58 percent of the vote. An option for $400 per student got 63 percent of the vote.

Ward 1's voters tend to be younger and with children, so it is likely that a majority there also favored both referendum options.


Incumbent Mayor Lynn Stauss had 68 percent of the vote and at-large candidate Mike Pokrzywinski had 62 percent. The results for the mayoral race in particular were somewhat unexpected because the top challenger, Gary Jones, was a write-in candidate and announced his candidacy less than a week ago.

Results for the Ward 1 council race were not in. Incumbent Clarence Vetter was up against challenger Marc DeMers.

Ward 3 incumbent Craig Buckalew and Ward 5 incumbent Wayne Gregoire were unchallenged, winning with 99 percent.

The number of voters was high, though it's not clear if it would surpass the highly contested 2006 election in which a previous school referendum was narrowly defeated by just 21 votes. In this election, with 800-plus votes from Ward 1 and 1,946 votes from other wards and the rural areas, the total turnout is likely to be more than 2,746.

In 2006, 3,281 voters weighed in on the referendum, 2,736 of them in the city and the rest in the rural areas of the school district.

Total voter turnout in 2003 was 1,047, and in 2005, it was 1,255, not including rural voters.

East Grand Forks voters got two options to increase their property taxes to support the school district. Voters could also choose to reject an increase altogether.

A $400 per student increase cost $75 per $100,000 in home value each year and a $500 option bumped the increase up to $94 per year. The $500 per pupil increase only could pass if voters also approved the $400 option.


The increases would take effect for the 2008-09 school year with about half of the money raised coming from the state.

Last year, voters defeated a levy referendum that would have cost about $108 per $100,000 in home value for 10 years.

Defeat of this year's referendum would cause the district to face about $350,000 to $400,000 in deficit spending next school year and the following cuts would be recommended to offset costs, according to Superintendent David Pace:

-- Increase class sizes: Kindergarten through second grade may increase to a minimum of 24 students per classroom. Third through sixth grade may have a minimum of 28 students. Secondary elective classes may have minimum of 25 students.

-- Eliminate individual music lessons for seventh- through 12th-graders.

-- Only provide busing for students according to the minimum state requirements.

-- Eliminate district support for student dances, programs and field trips.

-- Eliminate middle school extra-curricular activities.


-- Eliminate College-in-the-Classroom courses.

-- Increase activity fees to self-sustaining levels.

-- Cut a minimum of nine full-time certified staff.

The $400 per pupil levy increase would provide $150,000 to $200,000 to supplement state aid used for general operating costs, according to Pace. The rest of the money generated would be used for reading and math coaches, expansion of the college-in-the-classroom and vocational programs, as well as improving the district's Web site, he said.

The $500 per pupil increase would allow the district to also upgrade facilities such as the Senior High School gym floor and sound system, as well as the schools' exterior track, according to Pace. Senior High was built 44 years ago.

The higher increase also would pay to replace and upgrade student computer labs as well, according to Pace.

What To Read Next
Get Local