Weather Forecast


School board, mayoral races attract new candidates

Interest in running for public office in Carlton County appears to be thriving this year — with a few notable exceptions.

0 Talk about it

As the filing period for the county’s townships, school districts and hospital district came to a close last Tuesday, only a handful of positions failed to attract candidates.

“This is not all that unusual,” said County Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert. “At this point, the vacancies will still appear on the ballot in November, and if there are no write-in candidates at that time, officials will no doubt advertise for applicants after that.”

Perhaps most vigorously contested in this year’s elections will be the county’s school district and mayoral races.  


Filing for three open positions on the Barnum School Board were Paul Coughlin (I), James Fuglestad, Donald Gross, Tony Newman (I), Rachel A. Pettit and Jessica Unkelhaeuser.

Carlton’s three school board posts will be contested by Julianne Emerson (I), Stephanie Gibson (I), Susan Karp and Rick Santkuyl (I). Filing in the special election for a fourth Carlton School Board post were Michael Gay and Benjamin E. Nilsen.

In Cloquet, school board candidates for three available posts include incumbents David Battaglia, Dan Danielson and Ted Lammi as well as challengers Richard Colsen and James W. Mallery II.

Three open school board positions in Cromwell attracted a candidate field of Brett Cahoon, Walter Collman and Gregory Eliason (I).

MooseLake will elect three candidates for school board, with candidates Steven Blondo, Kris Lyons (I), Tom Paull (I) and Julie Peterson (I) throwing their hats in the ring for the posts.

Perhaps the biggest candidate field is in the Esko School District, where three open positions will be contested by Gary Bonneville, Melissa Humphrey, Randy Liljegren (I), Shaun C. Marline, Shelly L. Peterson, Scott Powers (I), Todd Rengo and Margaret Nicotera Sunnarborg (I).

Four candidates will vie for three spots on the Wrenshall School Board, including Michelle Blanchard (I), Jeff Holmes, Renae House (I) and Tony Paul Sheda (I).


In the city and township races, AtkinsonTownship has two open at-large town supervisor posts to be filled, with only incumbent Terry Dearborn filing for candidacy.  Miranda McNamara is the sole candidate for the position of town treasurer.

Denise Reed and Tonya Simcox will square off for the post of town treasurer in AutombaTownship. Donald K. Pelkey (I) will run unopposed for the town supervisor position in Seat A, and Morgan Switzer is the only candidate for Seat C.

Four candidates stepped forward to vie for the post of mayor of Barnum, including Leslie (Peterson) Collier, Jason Goodwin (I), Dale Ostby and Roy Alan Ostrander. Filing for two open posts on the Barnum City Council were David Anthony, Jeff L. Antilla, Lori Berglund (I), James Calhoun and Thea Erickson.

Incumbents David K. Duesler and Keith D. Rasmussen filed for the two open positions for at-large supervisor in BarnumTownship. Kate Rasmussen (I) will seek her post as town treasurer once again, unopposed.

In BesemanTownship, no challengers filed to run against incumbent Bud Lehti for the Seat A supervisor position. Also running unopposed will be incumbents John Manninen for Seat C and Mark Dahlman for treasurer.

BlackhoofTownship incumbents Dale Davis and Michael Salzer are the only candidates running for the two at-large supervisor positions, and incumbent Rhoda Fitzsimmons will run unchallenged for the town treasurer position.

The name of mayoral candidate Kitty Bureau (I-Carlton) will appear separately on the ballot under both the communities of Carlton and Thomson. Though the two entities voted to merge during the past year, Gassert said they won’t be listed together on the ballot until after Jan. 1, 2015.

Long-time incumbent Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren will be challenged this year by political newcomer Dave Hallback. In the race for Ward 1 council member, incumbent David Manderfeld will go up against challenger Jeff Rock. Running unopposed for their seats will be incumbents David Bjerkness in Ward 2 and Roger Maki in Ward 3.

Incumbent Cromwell Mayor Lisa Lund will run unopposed in November’s election, and Lola Joy Hakala, Raymond M. Lally (I) and Philip Matthew Lippo will vie for two open spots on the city council.

Only incumbent Susan Koivisto filed for the Seat A position on the EagleTownship town board, and Vedra Peterson is the sole candidate for town clerk.

In HolyokeTownship, Ernest Zinter will challenge incumbent town supervisor George Haynes for the Seat A position and Judy Duncan will go up against incumbent David Roper. Rosanne Hanes (I) has no challengers in the special election for town clerk.

Also unopposed will be KalevalaTownship supervisor Gene Dutkin (I) for Seat B and town clerk Howard Eskuri (I) for town clerk.

Incumbent Mayor Kyle Riel was unchallenged for mayor of KettleRiver, and Kris Miller (I) was the sole candidate to file for the two open positions on the council.

Incumbents were also the only ones to file in MahtowaTownship, where Bonnie Fitzgerald is looking to retain her seat as town supervisor in Seat A, Charles Porter is again running for Seat C and Sandra M. Haley is hoping to return as town treasurer.

A three-way race is shaping up for the two open council seats in MooseLake, with Mark “Barney” Hollis, Doug Juntunen and Mike Peterson (I) filing for those positions. Incumbent mayor Ted Shaw will run unopposed.

D. Tracy Matuseski (I) has filed to retain the Seat A town supervisor post in MooseLakeTownship, and Robert Moffett Jr. will challenge incumbent Dean Paulson for Seat C. Dawn Moffett will go up against incumbent Terrian Pangerl for the office of treasurer.

In PerchLakeTownship, the Seat A supervisor position will go unchallenged, with incumbent Gary Harms looking to return for another term. Newcomer Philip Johnson filed for the Seat C post, and Cheri DeMenge is seeking election as treasurer.

Former Scanlon mayor Marshall Johnson is looking to unseat incumbent mayor Annette Bryant, while Michael Berthiaume, Patrick Powers and Allan Wallin will contend for two positions on the city council.

Incumbents Kenneth Hedin and Russell Johnson are running for the two open at-large positions as town supervisor in SilverTownship, and incumbent Gerald Konu is unchallenged for the post of treasurer.

Duane J. Laveau (I) was the only candidate to file for two open positions in the race for at-large town supervisor in SilverBrookTownship, and Deborah Nyberg will go unchallenged for the post of town treasurer.

Long-time SkeltonTownship Seat C supervisor James R. Newman was the sole candidate for that post, as was fellow incumbent Linda Redetzke for the office of town clerk.

At the time this issue of the Pine Journal went to press, Gassert had not yet heard from SplitRockTownship regarding candidates for Seat A town supervisor and town treasurer.

ThomsonTownship Seat A supervisor Terry Hill is looking to return to his post for another term, as are Ruth Janke in Seat B and Anthony Compo in Seat E.

The story is much the same in TwinLakesTownship, where incumbent Randy D. Willie is unopposed for the Seat A position and incumbent John Vernon is the only candidate to file for Seat B.

Vying for the position of mayor of Wrenshall in the upcoming November election will be challenger Gary Butala, who goes up against current mayor Mike Hyland. Jeffrey Kimmes and Duane Ziebarth filed for the two open posts in the race for council member at large.

Incumbents are also the name of the game in WrenshallTownship, where Dwain Meyer is unopposed for Seat B, Henry (Hank) Wyman is unopposed for Seat C and Dan Jacobson is unopposed for the post of town treasurer.

The community of Wright will have a new mayor this year, with newcomers Mark Groth and Donovan E. Ranta seeking the top post. David Chambers and Gene Lott have thrown their hats in the ring for two at-large council positions, and Susan Carr and Amanda Weis will face off for a third at-large position in a special election.


Candidates for board positions on the MooseLakeHospitalDistrict include Joanne Collier (I) and Claire Stevens for the Moose Lake seat, Laurie Tomczak (I) for the Kettle River seat, incumbent Christopher N. Thiessen for the Silver Township seat and Kelly Gobe for the Windemere Township seat. No candidates filed to represent the community of Barnum on the board.

In the race for county commissioner in District 4, newcomers Susan Zmyslony and Mark Thell will face off for the seat currently occupied by departing commissioner Bob Olean.

Also on this year’s Nov. 4 ballot will be a bond referendum to build a new school in Moose Lake (see related story).