Nov. 13, 2006

Johnson, Flachmeyer win mayor races, liquor passes

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Area voters chose the incumbents Tuesday in local races, and Cokato voters decided the city may issue liquor licenses.

Incumbent Bruce Johnson was re-elected mayor of Cokato with 698 votes. Challenger Bru Ploog received 415 votes.

Voters in Cokato also approved the liquor licensing with 687 votes. It will allow the city council to issue licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquor. The alcohol question received 485 “no” votes.

Incumbent Ava Flachmeyer was re-elected mayor of Dassel with 457 votes. Challenger Denise Alger received 129 votes. Incumbent Bob Wilde was re-elected to the Dassel City Council with 421 votes, and Pat Haapala was elected with 307 votes to fill the seat formerly held by Brad Lalim.

Challengers Deb Suchy of Dassel received 235 votes and Brad Nelson of Dassel received 144.

In Cokato, incumbent Gordy Erickson was re-elected with 755 votes to the city council and Wayne Murphy was elected with 596 votes. Matt Stumpf of Cokato received 461 votes.

Johnson said he plans to complete the Broadway construction project. The new street lights need to be turned on, for example. Next, he and the Cokato City Council will concentrate on long-range planning. Also, there are still some city streets that need upgrading, Johnson added.

As for liquor licensing, Erickson said he has been approached by a couple of people who would like to be put “on the list” for getting a license. Because this will be new for Cokato, council members will need to review the steps for granting a license, he said.

Erickson said he is relieved the election is over, and the liquor question is settled. “I’m glad that the people had their voice,” he said.

In Dassel, Flachmeyer said she is thrilled she won. “I’m glad it was a clean fight,” she said.

Her plans for the city are to “bring it forward into the future,” she added.

Whether and when to get a new water tower will probably be the next big issue facing Dassel residents, Flachmeyer said.

District levy fails

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Failing by just more than 200 votes, the Dassel Cokato school district’s proposed operating levy referendum was voted down.

Now, the school board has to decide whether or not to go up for a levy again and how to cut $300,000 from next year’s budget.

Superintendent Jeff Powers was disappointed with the results.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen. We have a level of distrust and dissatisfaction [of the district] in the community,” he said.

Powers is satisfied with the effort from staff, administration and individuals within the community to get the word out, he said.

“We also had support from the levy committee and PTA groups,” he added.

Powers is pleased with the way the communication went, but thinks part of the population of voters are hard to reach, he said.

With the amount of cuts ahead, “We have our work cut out for us,” Powers said.

“[The cuts] will make educating students harder – allowing for fewer opportunities for them,” he said.

The school board will canvass the election results at tonight’s (Monday) school board meeting in which results will be discussed and the creation of a time line on the budget reduction process, according to Powers.

“Things will get more complicated as time goes by,” he said.

School board candidate results

Richard Tormanen, Kevin Bjork and Kevin Dahlman were elected to the Dassel-Cokato school board for four-year terms.

The DC School Board will have some tough decisions to make in cutting $300,000 from next year’s budget due to the failure of the levy.

“It’s unfortunate, but the community has spoken. Now, we have to go forward and do the best we can,” said Richard Tormanen.

“It will be a challenge, but we have to try to find cuts somewhere,” Tormanen said. He feels confident that the board will put their heads together and “We’ll get through this.”

Kevin Dahlman is disappointed in the levy results as well, but “We will do the best we can with the resources available and continue to serve our students the best we can,” he said.

Kevin Bjork, school board member elect, has goals of developing a process for measuring both academic performance and financial effectiveness along with better communication with the community at large.

“The big challenge now will be dealing with the financial aspect and making cuts that will least impact academic programs,” Bjork said.

Election serves some surprises

By Lynda Jensen

Voters filled several seats Tuesday, including a tight race in District 18B served by Dean Urdahl, as well as the seat vacated by State Rep. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), who lost a bid for judgeship.

For Newman’s seat, Ron Shimanski (R) was elected and received 57 percent versus his opponent Kevin Johnson (DFL), with 43 percent.

Urdahl (R) edged by his familiar opponent, Dave Detert of Litchfield (DFL) by a 6 percent margin. Urdahl received 53 percent of votes, and Detert 47 percent.

Four commissioner seats filled with tight margins

Several county commissioner seats were filled by local voters, three tight races in Meeker County and one in Wright County. This included the following:

• For the county commissioner seat in District 3 of Meeker County, incumbent Amy Wilde of Dassel narrowly kept her seat by being re-elected with 52 percent of votes versus challenger Carl Rokala’s 48 percent. This position represents the City of Dassel, Dassel Township and the townships of Ellsworth and Collinwood.

• Dave Gabrielson of Litchfield in District 2 was re-elected, who represents the City of Darwin, Darwin Township and the Litchfield area in Meeker County.

Gabrielson received 52 percent of votes over challenger Dan Walberg of Litchfield with 47 percent of votes.

• Wally Strand of Kimball in District 4 was also re-elected, who represents the township and City of Kingston. Strand received 56 percent of votes versus challenger George Ruhland of Eden Valley with 43 percent.

• In Wright County, Dick Mattson was re-elected to District 5, over opponent Tom LaPlant of Buffalo. Mattson obtained 58 percent of votes, and LaPlant 39 percent.

Other positions open

Several other positions were filled, including one state senate seat in the local area, and two local state representative seats. They include the following:

State senate

• State Senator District 18

Steve Dille (R) secured his seat against challenger Hal Kimball of Annandale (DFL). Dille received 62 percent of votes, and Kimball 38 percent.

Congressional seats open

Two Congressional districts were also filled Tuesday, including District 6, which is to be vacated by Mark Kennedy, and District 7, served by Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes (DFL).

Kennedy lost a bid for US senate seat – the seat of which was filled by Amy Klobuchar (DFL) – vacated by Mark Dayton.

Collin Peterson also easily earned back his position in US District 7, with 70 percent of votes. His opponent Michael Barrett received 29 percent.

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