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Maki unseats Hallback in Cloquet mayoral race

Roger Maki smiles as former mayor Bruce Ahlgren tells him the preliminary voting results at several districts indicate that he will be the new mayor of Cloquet. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

Current Ward 3 Councilor Roger Maki unseated Cloquet mayoral incumbent Dave Hallback in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, election.

Maki won 3,331 votes, or 64 percent, to Hallback’s 34.8 percent.

Maki staked his campaign on trying to heal the divisions in the council he said were caused by how Hallback and other councilors handled the issue of former Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek.

Stracek was suspended in March 2017 in a special meeting called by Hallback. At the meeting, Hallback presented a letter stating the police union had conducted a vote of no confidence in the former chief’s leadership.

Maki said the entire process circumvented the the complaint process, where issues with a city employee would be brought to the city administrator. The administrator would then look into the matter and determine if it warranted further investigation, according to Maki.

Throughout the campaign, Hallback stood by his decision to call the meeting and said he believed it was in the best interest of Cloquet.

Maki said he wants to restore the trust in the council, and he will have four new members to work with when his term begins in January. Warren “Bun” Carlson ousted incumbent Jeff Rock by a vote of 631 to 499 in Ward 1. Sheila Lamb beat incumbent David Bjerkness by just 39 votes in Ward 2.

“People certainly wanted change,” Maki said. “I think people listened closely and they spoke loud and clear. We’re going to get things turned around so people can trust their city council. There’ll be a new enthusiasm for city government after all the infighting that’s been going on over the last 20 months.”

About 70 supporters gathered at the Cloquet VFW Post to await returns and celebrate Maki’s victory. He thanked his voters, volunteers and donors late Tuesday night and said he looks forward to working on the most pressing issues facing Cloquet, like housing and attracting new businesses to the city.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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