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Candidates galore in Cloquet

There will be no shortage of candidates in Cloquet this year. A grand total of 15 people filed for five races in the city, with no seats uncontested and three races going to a primary election — a rarity in recent years.

Candidate Sheila Lamb believes the high numbers are a good thing.

"I think Cloquet is speaking very loudly that we want change," said Lamb, who is running for Ward 2 Cloquet city councilor against long-time incumbent David Bjerkness.

With two candidates each, the Ward 2 and Ward 1 council races will be determined in the general election in November, with Warren "Bun" Carlson challenging one-term incumbent Jeff Rock in Ward 1.

Three races — Cloquet mayor, Ward 3 councilor and at-large councilor — will be narrowed down to two candidates after the Aug. 14 primary election.

Those races are:

Four filed for mayor: Andy Lee Angell, Trevor J. Berg, one-term incumbent Dave Hallback and Roger Maki, who is currently in his second term as Ward 3 councilor.

Three filed for the Ward 3 seat that Maki will vacate, including Richard Colsen, Randy Flynn and Dakota C. Koski.

The at-large councilor special election — the winner will fill the last two years of Adam Bailey's term — also has a large field of candidates. Four are running: Elizabeth Jaakola, Les Riess, Lara Wilkinson and Barb Wyman.

Wyman was recently appointed interim at-large councilor by Mayor Dave Hallback, and will serve through December, regardless of the election results.

County races

At the county level, the numbers were lower, with three of seven races uncontested and two in which no one filed at all.

Long-time incumbent Paul Gassert was the only person to file for county auditor/treasurer; Sheriff Kelly Lake will be the sole candidate for sheriff; and District 2 County Commissioner Marv Bodie faces no challengers in November.

Lauri A. Ketola will challenge incumbent Thomas H. Pertler for county attorney. With only two candidates, that race will be determined in November. For more on the county attorney race, see "Ketola files for Carlton County attorney" on page A11.

There will be a primary election for the District 4 county commissioner seat. Five filed: challengers Michael K. Gaye, Brenda Martini, Randy L. McCuskey, Mark J. Thell and one-term incumbent Susan Zmyslony.

No one filed for the District 2 and District 3 for Soil and Water Conservation, which Gassert said was disappointing, but not surprising. The county auditor said contests like this with no official candidates are generally decided by "write-in" — when voters actually write in a person's name on the ballot — provided they are qualified to serve. In the case of the SWCD, any write-in would have to live in that particular SWCD district.

Gassert said the winning write-in candidate also would have to accept the nomination to serve, and be sworn into office. He or she could win and decline to serve.

"I have always emphasized that winning the election only means you have been nominated to serve, you still need to be sworn into office at that January meeting," Gassert wrote.

The county auditor also said he was also not surprised to see the large number of candidates for Cloquet, especially for the mayor and at-large races, with city politics sparking a lot of controversy recently.

State House District 11A

In the local District 11A state representative race, incumbent DFL candidate Mike Sundin will face Republican challenger Jeff A. Dotseth in November.

More to come

For all other local races, including townships, school districts and municipalities (other than Cloquet) without a primary election, the filing period is July 31 through Aug. 14.

None of those races will go to a primary, regardless of the number of candidates.