Voters in Cloquet City Council's Ward 3 advanced incumbent councilor Chris Swanson and Uriah Wilkinson in the primary election Tuesday, Nov. 5. Swanson and Wilkinson will face off in the Feb. 11 general election to replace former councilor Dakota Koski.
Swanson led the way Tuesday with 124 votes and Wilkinson finished with 54. A third candidate, Ray Schow, received seven votes.
Election judge John Cavanaugh said there was a “steady stream” of voters coming all day into the Ward 3 polling place, the former Cloquet City Hall building.
While fewer than 200 people voted, Cavanaugh said turnout wasn’t bad for a special election primary in a ward with approximately 1,300 registered voters and no other races on the ballot.
The City Council appointed Swanson to the seat in July after Koski’s resignation. Koski was forced to resign after buying a home outside Ward 3.
Swanson, a government teacher at Cloquet High School, said during the campaign he hoped to be a “voice of reason” on a council that has been bitterly divided in the past few years over the handling of the Cloquet Police Department. He also said he wants to ensure Cloquet taxpayers are getting the most for their money and work to establish consistency and clarity in the city’s policies and strategic planning.
"I'm humbled to get the kind of support that I have from the neighborhood," Swanson said. "Getting the number of votes I did is great."
Wilkinson, a real estate agent and a member of the Cloquet Planning Commission, said he wants the council to establish a defined direction for Cloquet in terms of the repair or reconstruction of aging infrastructure, increasing the city’s housing stock and economic development.
Wilkinson acknowledged his campaign has work to do to be competitive in the general, but also said there are plenty of voters out there who didn't vote in the primary.
"Getting out the vote in any special election is extremely difficult," Wilkinson said. "Obviously, with the campaign moving forward we have to do a better job of having a greater presence and awareness and making sure everybody in Ward 3 knows when that date is and reminding them of that Feb. 11 date."
Schow, a travel agent and substitute teacher in Esko, centered his campaign around the council taking back control over the direction of the city.