Write-in candidate wins election
You might be tempted to characterize Karen Foss as, an accidental candidate. Or perhaps, a reluctant one. After all, she wasn't even listed as a candidate on the August Roseau County Primary election ballot for county attorney. Yet, she collected...
You might be tempted to characterize Karen Foss as, an accidental candidate. Or perhaps, a reluctant one.
After all, she wasn't even listed as a candidate on the August Roseau County Primary election ballot for county attorney.
Yet, she collected 3,268 write-in votes in the Nov. 2 election to win the job, defeating incumbent Lisa Hanson, who had 2,808.
Foss originally filed early this summer as a candidate for the August primary. But she withdrew a few days later.
"I first was approached in the early part of the year. I had been thinking about it throughout that time, but I hadn't made up my mind," Foss said.
She just wasn't sure she wanted to devote the time and the money to campaign.
"Once I withdrew, I just received an overwhelming amount of calls of encouragement to reconsider," she said.
So, after talking it over with her family, she decided to launch a write-in campaign.
Karen Foss, one of 12 children of Florence and the late Clarence Zak, grew up southeast of Strathcona, Minn., in Roseau County, in a community called Benwood.
She graduated from Greenbush (Minn.) High School and later Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls.
After that, she received a degree in public administration from UND and graduated from the UND School of Law in 2006.
During law school, she worked as a law clerk to Judge Dennis Murphy in Thief River Falls and Judge Donna Dixon in Roseau. She also served as a public defender for Roseau County.
Since graduating from law school, she has worked as a private practice attorney for the law firm of Brink, Sobolik, Severson, Malm and Albrecht in nearby Hallock, Minn. She also serves as an assistant county attorney in Kittson County.
Foss lives with husband, Richard Foss, and family on the Foss family farm north of Badger, Minn., where he raises grain and operates a hog facility.
Foss didn't come up with any new campaign strategies or gimmicks, such as the rubber wristbands that Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski gave to potential voters so they'd know how to spell her name. Then again, the one-syllable "Foss" isn't much of a spelling challenge.
"We hit every parade we could. I did a lot of door knocking," she said.
Her husband made yard signs.
"We put them up quite early," she said. "We hit the major parades in the county. We walked all the parades and handed out flyers."
Many volunteers wore campaign T-shirts, too.
Foss and Hanson, who was elected four years ago, ran what could be called a civil campaign, with yard signs and newspaper ads in local weekly newspapers.
"I had nothing personal against Lisa," Foss said. "We've been colleagues and friends for a long time."
Hanson's newspaper ads touted her record, saying she doesn't play favorites: "I strongly believe that the law applies equally to everyone, regardless of their status in the community, who they know, or where they work. I have had to prosecute friends, classmates, and relatives."
Foss said her message was straightforward: Be fair and reasonable. Use common sense in making decisions in prosecution.
Whatever Foss did, it worked. She outpolled the incumbent by 460 votes, a margin of 54-46 percent.
"I was surprised that a write-in could win," Foss said. "But when I was doing the door-knocking the last few weeks, I had a lot of positive feedback."
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