Oct. 30, 2006

Liquor to be hot button issue

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Cokato voters will find the controversial question of whether or not the city should allow strong alcohol into town on this year’s election ballot.

The yes or no question that will be seen on the ballot Tuesday, Nov. 7 will be, “Shall the city council be allowed to issue licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquor at retail?”

If passed, the council would be allowed to grant liquor licenses for on-sale, in which a restaurant or bar could serve liquor; and off sale, pertaining to liquor sold at retail.

A recent petition generated 205 signatures, with 200 being the minimum requirement for an item to be placed on a ballot.

Prior to this, the council had voted down the placement of a liquor question on this fall’s ballot, but a petition overrides the council’s actions.

Voters will also choose persons to fill a variety of county commissioner seats, the sheriff position, and other higher level political spots.

For the election, big races are:

• Meeker County sheriff, with Mark Shoutz of Dassel challenging incumbent Mike Hirman of Litchfield.

• The Wright County commissioner seat served by Dick Mattson. Tom LaPlant is challenging Mattson.

There is also a race set for the seat to be vacated by State Rep. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), who plans to run for a judgeship.

All the area state representatives and state senate positions will be open, including positions served by State Sen. Steve Dille and State Rep. Dean Urdahl.

Wright County Sheriff Gary Miller will run unopposed.

Four commissioner seats open

Several county commissioner seats will be filled by local voters this year, three in Meeker County and one in Wright County.

In Meeker, seats open include:

• County Commissioner Amy Wilde of Dassel in District 3, who represents the City of Dassel, Dassel Township, and the townships of Ellsworth and Collinwood.

Wilde refiled, and is being challenged by Carl Rokala of Dassel.

• Dave Gabrielson of Litchfield in District 2, who represents the City of Darwin, Darwin Township and the Litchfield area.

Gabrielson refiled, and is being challenged by Dan Walberg of Litchfield.

• Hugh Wagner of Watkins in District 4, who represents the township and City of Kingston.

Wagner was dropped by primary voters in September, leaving two candidates to face off on the Nov. 7 ballot – George Ruhland of Eden Valley, and Wally Strand of Kimball.

In Wright County, Dick Mattson’s position in District 5 is up, which includes Cokato city and township, French Lake Township, and Stockholm Township.

Mattson lives south of Buffalo in Marysville Township, and was first elected to the county board in 1992. He is being challenged by Tom LaPlant of Buffalo.

Other positions open

Several other positions are open, 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)

Dille re-filed for this seat, with challenger Hal Kimball of Annandale (DFL) filing against him.

District 18 includes all of Meeker and McLeod counties, plus the following area in Wright County: the cities of Howard Lake, Cokato, and Annandale; and townships of French Lake, Middleville, South Haven, Southside, and Stockholm.

• State Rep. District 18B Dean Urdahl (R)

Urdahl refiled, with a familiar opponent filing against him, Dr. Dave Detert of Litchfield (DFL).

District 18B includes the cities of Annandale, Cokato, Howard Lake, and South Haven, and the townships of Cokato, Corinna, French Lake, Middleville, Stockholm, and Southside in Wright County, and extends west into Meeker County.

• State Rep. District 18A Scott Newman (R)

Two candidates filed for this seat, which Newman is leaving vacant, Ron Shimanski of Silver Lake (R), and Kevin Johnson of Hutchinson (DFL).

District 18A includes all of McLeod County, plus Collinwood Township in Wright County, Cedar Mills, and Cedar Mills Township in Meeker County.

County seats open

Local voters will also fill county positions such as auditor, recorder, and the county attorney’s office.

In Wright County, county attorney Tom Kelly is running unopposed, as is incumbent Stephanie Beckman in Meeker County.

For county auditor, Bob Hiivala in Wright County and Barbara Loch of Meeker will run unopposed (Hiivala is both auditor and treasurer). For Meeker treasurer, Sharon Euerle will run unopposed, and Meeker recorder, Elaine Lenhard will run unopposed.

Congressional seats open

Two Congressional districts are also open, including District 6 being vacated by Mark Kennedy, and District 7 served by Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes (DFL).

Kennedy has declared his intentions to run for the US senate seat being vacated by Mark Dayton, with three candidates filing for his current position, including Michele Bachmann of Woodbury (R), John Binkowski of St. Marys Point of the Independence Party, and Patty Wetterling of Anoka (D).

US District 6 includes a huge chunk of area that is northwest of the Twin Cities. At its southern end, it includes the townships of Cokato, Middleville, Marysville, Stockholm, Victor and Woodland; and the cities of Howard Lake, Waverly, Montrose, and Cokato.

The seat served by Peterson is US District 7, which includes a huge chunk of area covering the entire western portion of the state, from Lake of the Woods to the north, down to the Iowa border to the south. It includes Meeker and McLeod counties.

Four filed for the District 7 congressional seat, Peterson, the incumbent; Erik Thompson of Milan, who is also a DFLer; Mike Barrett of Long Prairie (R), and Ken Lucier of the relatively conservative Constitution Party.

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