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Voters face choices in Tuesday's primary

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The November election seems far off but voters will get their chance to select those who will be on that ballot in specific races in Tuesday's primary elections.

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The date of Minnesota's primaries, traditionally conducted in September, was changed a few years back by the Minnesota Legislature. There was concern that the September primary did not allow enough time for absentee ballots of military personnel to be received in time to be counted.

So now, politicians are faced with the task of getting the voters' attention at a time when family calendars are preoccupied with fairs and festivals and summer vacations.

Crow Wing County Deputy Auditor-Treasurer Deborah Erickson said that primaries usually only attract 15 to 20 percent of the eligible voters. This year, even though there's a county primary involving three candidates for county recorder and Brainerd's first primary for mayor, she predicted a turnout of about 17 to 18 percent.

Erickson cautioned Crow Wing County voters who are using mail ballots (10 of 64 precincts) that Saturday may be too late to mail their ballots since mail goes to St. Paul for sorting before it's delivered to the auditor-treasurer's office. Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Election Day. The ballots can be mailed or dropped off. She encouraged those who would like to follow Tuesday's contest to use the Crow Wing County website for the most up-to-date results Tuesday night.

Voters with questions regarding whether they're registered or where they should vote may go to the mnvotes.org website. Voters may also access a sample ballot, tailored for them, at the website.

Morrison County Auditor-Treasurer Russ Nygren, who will step down from his post in January, declined to venture a guess on primary turnout. He said Morrison County, as of Thursday, has seen an increase in absentee ballots since Minnesota no longer requires voters to list a reason for why they're voting absentee. Two years ago there were 80 absentee ballots and this year there are already more than 200.

He said there are indications of considerable interest in the Morrison County sheriff's race, judging by lawn signs and advertisements. Mail ballots must be received by his office by Tuesday.

For those who vote in the primary there are a number of interesting contests to weigh in on.

BRAINERD MAYOR - This is Brainerd's first primary since the city council decided to allow voters the chance to narrow down the field before November. That decision, no doubt, was related to the unprecedented number of candidates who filed for office in 2012. In all, 18 candidates filed for four seats on the council that year.

The candidates for mayor are incumbent James E. Wallin, Steven Wolff and Guy Green.

CROW WING COUNTY RECORDER - Longtime Crow Wing County Recorder Kathy Ludenia announced her plans to not seek re-election. The three candidates are Brian K. Wallin, Doug Hansen and Mark Liedl.

MORRISON COUNTY SHERIFF - In another case where a retirement prompted a crowd of interested candidates, Thomas "Tom" Justin, Shawn D. Larsen, Dan "Scoop" Rocheleau and Charles T. Strack all filed to replace outgoing Sheriff Michel Wetzel. Wetzel, who turned 50 in February, was first elected to his post in 2002.

MORRISON COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 4 - Jim Andres, Ronald N. Rinkel and Mike Wilson.

MORRISON COUNTY AUDITOR-TREASURER - Three candidates are hoping to replace Morrison County Auditor-Treasurer Nygren, who decided not to run for re-election. They are Tammy Giuliani, Debra L. Lowe and Ashley Storck. All three of the candidates filed on the last day of filing.

Nygren was elected auditor in 1986. The auditor and treasurer positions were merged in 2010.

AITKIN COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 3 - Paul Bailey, Roberta Elvecrog and Donald Niemi.

HOUSE DISTRICT 4A - Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, faces a primary challenge from Lavern Pederson to run as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate for House District 4A.

Signs will direct Brainerd voters

Street construction is going on around Garfield Elementary School in Brainerd. Brainerd officials said six directional signs will direct voters to the polling place at Garfield on Tuesday. Voters may access the polling site via Tenth Avenue and L Street.

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Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860
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