Local elections attract former challengers, political newcomersSome of the names on September’s Primary Election ballot this year will likely be familiar, but not necessarily because they’ve held office before.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Some of the names on September’s Primary Election ballot this year will likely be familiar, but not necessarily because they’ve held office before. As the first round of filing deadlines came and went on Tuesday, a number of former hopefuls, as well as political newcomers, cast their names in to the hat alongside those of more seasoned veterans.
In the three races for Cloquet City Council, first-timers Roy Maki and Lara Wilkinson will square off for the At-Large post. Interim Ward 4 Councilor Kerry Kolodge remains unopposed, while challenger Steve Langley and interim Councilor Mark Roberts will vie for the seat in Ward 5.
Long-time District 1 Carlton County Commissioner Dick Brenner will be opposed by former Cloquet City Councilor Erik Blesener, both of Cloquet. Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Tom Proulx of Cloquet remains unopposed. District 4 incumbent Bob Olean of Carlton, who was forced to re-run before his term had expired due to the recent statewide redistricting, will go up against Susan Zymslony of Barnum, who ran in the last election. In District 5, first-time challenger Gary E. Peterson of Mahtowa will oppose veteran commissioner Ted Pihlman of Moose Lake.
Three districts in the Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District have offices up for grabs this year. In District 1, incumbent Barb Dahl of Wright is unopposed. Incumbent District 4 Commissioner Pam Coughlin-Hall of Moose Lake will face Kim Samuelson of Kettle River, whom she narrowly edged out in the last election. Commissioner Mark Thell of Wrenshall is unopposed for the District 5 position.
In the race for Minnesota State Senate District 11, Pine City teacher Bill Saumer, representing the Republican party, threw his hat in the ring at the last minute while incumbent DFL candidate Tony Lourey of Kerrick will vie for another term.
The broadest field of candidates emerged in the contest for the newly created State House of Representatives District 11A. With no incumbent in place, the district is up for grabs. Candidates filing for that post include DFLer and first-time candidate Mike Sundin of Esko, who recently gained the endorsement of the DFL party. Scanlon Mayor Jim Putnam filed on behalf of the Republican party, and Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren will run as a DFLer. Cory Pylkka of Carlton will represent the Independence Party on the ticket, and a last-minute entry into the race is Independent Pat Oman of Barnum, who currently serves as the Carlton County economic development director.
The Primary Election is set for Tuesday, Aug. 14, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., followed by the General Election on Nov. 6.
All Carlton County school districts voted not to hold a primary election this year, and the filing period for those posts will run from July 31 through Aug. 14. Filing for all other cities within the county with at-large council posts up for re-election will also take place from July 31 through Aug. 14. Most cities have at least two council seats on the line as well as some mayoral positions. Townships have at least one supervisor and either a township clerk or treasurer position due for re-election.
Jana Peterson of the Pine Journal contributed to this story.