Two move on in County Commissioner race, six for Cloquet School Board

It wasn't as bad as some predicted. While statewide predictions for voter turnout had been as low as 12 percent, Carlton County saw close to 28 percent of registered voters come to the polls or vote via absentee ballot. "I can live with this," Ca...

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Tom Proulx signs in with election judges Tina DeBlass (purple shirt) and Marilyn Grabish. Jana Peterson/

It wasn't as bad as some predicted.

While statewide predictions for voter turnout had been as low as 12 percent, Carlton County saw close to 28 percent of registered voters come to the polls or vote via absentee ballot.

"I can live with this," Carlton County Auditor Paul Gassert said Wednesday morning.

Voters in Carlton County sent two candidates for County Commissioner on to the general election in November, along with six candidates for Cloquet School Board, which will have three seats open. Cromwell School District voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum for $495,000 in building bonds, with 309 voting yes, and 61 people voting no.

Despite the large number of candidates for all the local races, there wasn't a lot of last minute campaigning.


"I figured people had made up their minds by then," Bob Olean told the Pine Journal.

The top two vote getters for the County Commissioner District 4 seat - the only two to make it to the ballot for November - were Olean, with 523 votes, and Tony Sheda, with 299 votes.

Sheda said he went to bed Tuesday night thinking he was in third or fourth place, but woke up Wednesday to find he'd come in second.

That's good, because he was already planning ahead for the general election.

"I already have my booth at the county fair," he said Wednesday afternoon.

Kelly Zink came in third in the County Commissioner District Four race with 230 votes, followed closely by Susan Zmyslony with 227. Dana Miletich got 201 votes, while Paul Vernon got 185 votes, Jennifer Chmielewski 92, Melvin Omer 73 and Kerrick Johnson 18.

Cloquet School Board candidate Dan Danielson said he was too busy with work and watching his daughter play soccer Tuesday to do any campaigning. Still, whatever he did in the weeks leading up to the primary election must have worked: Danielson got 706 votes, the most of any school board candidate. Dave Battaglia was close behind with 691 votes.

However, this isn't a race between the top two. Six of the seven school board candidates will move on to the general election, doing battle for three at-large school board seats. That means Sam Bolling will be the only person listed on the primary school board ballot who will not in the November general election.


In addition to Danielson and Battaglia, other school board candidates who made it through to November are Sandra A. Crowley (655 votes), Tracy Vargason (589), Ron Gittings (503) and Rose Scheuer (479).

Statewide results

In statewide races, DFL Gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton and running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon ran away with the Carlton County vote, getting 2,260 votes (or nearly 54 percent) compared to Margaret Anderson Kelliher's 1,257.

Kelliher conceded the race late Wednesday morning. Dayton, the former U.S. senator and department store heir, had a statewide total 180,506 votes (41 percent) in unofficial returns and Kelliher 174,325 votes (40 percent) with 99.5 percent of the precincts counted Wednesday morning. Matt Entenza trailed with 18 percent.

Duluthian Prettner Solon said she's eager to take on Republican Tom Emmer and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner on Nov. 2, saying voters will have a clear choice at the polls.

In other races, Democratic incumbent Secretary of State Ritchie beat perennial candidate Dick Franson, DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson easily sailed past challenger Leo F. Meyer and Republican attorney general candidate Chris Barden won over Sharon Anderson, who regularly runs for the office.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar easily advanced to the general election over challenger Bill Hamm, taking 56,346 total votes to Hamm's 13,821 in the DFL race for Congressional District 8. Oberstar will face Independence Party candidate Timothy Olson and Republican candidate Chip Cravaack in November; Cravaack and Olson were both unopposed in the primary.

Winners of Tuesday's primary advance to the Nov. 2 general election.


Slow but steady

As of 12:50 p.m. Tuesday, election judges at the Cloquet City Hall polling station had seen just under 10 percent of the registered voters for that ward come through the door. That's low, said election judge Marilyn Grabish.

"We were told to expect between 15 and 20 percent," she said. "It's been slow, but steady."

Unlike the last election, which featured a presidential race, there were no lines of waiting voters when they opened the polling station at 7 a.m.

The way absentee ballots are handled was another change from the previous election. Instead of individual polling places counting the ballots, all absentee ballots will be counted at the county courthouse.

"Everything is judged on the same standard that way," said Grabish, who was happy with the rule change, which was prompted by discoveries made during the Coleman/Franken recount following the 2008 general election.

As for predictions of low voter turnout because the primary came in August instead of September, well, they were wrong.

Turnout for the primary was the highest since 2002, according to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Absentee voting statewide rose to a new high as well, with more than 31,000 people voting absentee. A total of 188 people voted absentee in Carlton County.


Forum Newspapers Minnesota Capitol reporter Don Davis contributed to this story.

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