Baxter City Council: Cross and Ward are top vote-getters

Incumbent Mark Cross gains reelection as John Ward advances to take the city council seat after a write-in campaign.

Voters wait outside Lord of Life Lutheran Church Tuesday, Nov. 3, as the sun rises on Election Day. The Baxter polling place was busy throughout the day. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Baxter City Council Incumbent Mark Cross received 69.38% with 3,639 votes as the top vote-getter with 100% of precincts reporting.

Write-in candidate John Ward received 1,000 votes and write-in candidate Lon Schmidt received 455 votes. The top two vote-getters advance to seats on the Baxter City Council.

“I’m pleased and I’m excited that my friends and neighbors want me to continue representing them and look forward to the next four years and continue doing what I’ve been doing,” Cross said when reached by phone on election night. “It’s amazing how many people voted.”

Cross said in his campaign he stressed the fact that he had a good working knowledge of the city and a lot of history with what’s happened in the past and what’s worked.

Cross said he wants to keep being a good steward of the taxpayers money and making sure it’s well-spent because it’s hard to come by.


“Everyone works hard and tax dollars don’t magically appear, people have to work for them,” Cross said.

He said there are always issues to deal with whether the economy is booming or it is facing economic issues related to the pandemic. Getting things back on track and the economy rolling is the main thing the city council needs to do, Cross said.

“That is wonderful,” Ward said of the results. “I just want to thank everyone that put their names on the ballot and put themselves out there.” Ward said. “It is always tough to do that because you are stepping out of a comfort zone into a frying pan.”

Ward said he believes his experience made a difference and residents remembered his work as a teacher/coach and at the state Legislature. Ward said a lot of volunteers helped in his campaign. “My experience, my dedication, my enthusiasm, my energy and attitude and work ethic played a factor in the result,” Ward said.

RELATED: Ward announces write-in campaign for open Baxter City Council seat
Ward said he was impressed by the number of people running for office and how many did write-ins, with people who campaigned seriously and were running to try make a difference. “I applaud each and every one of them,” Ward said. “... Todd Holman leaves some big shoes to be filled and I’m going to work my best to do that.”

City officials and staff have been doing a remarkable job moving the city forward, Ward said. “I’m excited and enthused and ready to rock and roll and assist in that — moving forward the city of Baxter.”


Schmidt said he wishes Ward all the luck as he moves forward in taking on the office. Schmidt said he hopes Ward had the same desire to take care of the residents of Baxter as he did. Schmidt said he wished he had known Holman wasn’t going to file for reelection as he would have filed for the office instead of having to run a write-in campaign. Schmidt said he has no aspirations for the future, but will see what happens down the road.

Schmidt was in the hospital for five days. He said he was much better and on the mend along with his wife.

RELATED: Bus driver, former radio host launches write-in campaign for Baxter council
Schmidt, 67, recently posted on his Facebook page that had COVID-19 and was home from the hospital as of Oct. 28. He thanked well-wishers. “It was a little rough for a few days but I believe I have the upper hand now,” Schmidt stated in the post.

Cross received 1,447 votes in Baxter Precinct 1 East, 744 votes in Precinct 1 West, 798 votes in Precinct 2 East, 650 votes in Precinct 2 West. Cross received 3,639 votes with 100% of precincts reporting.

The write-in votes combined had 448 votes in Baxter P1E, 451 in Baxter P1W, 334 votes in Baxter P2E and 373 in Baxer P2W.

Ward received 291 votes in P1E, 228 in P2E, 244 in P1W, 237 in P2W.

Schmidt received 122 votes in P1E, 68 in P2E, 155 in P1W, and 110 in P2W.

There were 5,882 registered voters to start the day on Election Day and 2,929 of those voted early as of Monday.


RELATED: Cross touts experience, track record in bid for another Baxter council term
Cross, 60, has been on the city council since the 1990s. He has 24 years of experience on the council and has served on city commissions as well since 1994. Cross, 60, is an architect with the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs.

He served on city commissions for the parks board, utilities, industrial park, long-range planning and economic development. He is the senior member on the city council.

When incumbent Todd Holman decided not to seek reelection as he plans to move out of the city, no one filed for the seat to make it on the ballot. But Lon Schmidt and John Ward both launched write-in campaigns. With Cross up for reelection, that means the top two vote-getters on Election Day will move on to the council seats.

Schmidt is a retired radio host and career journeyman with a bent for sales who currently works part-time as a bus driver for the Brainerd School District. He also trains bus drivers.

Schmidt was a talk show radio host on CASH 95.9 FM until 2014. He has worked in a diverse range of fields from telecommunications, to used cars sales, to a career in the armed forces dating back to the Vietnam era.

Ward, a former state representative, 70, is a retired teacher/coach and insurance agent. He served in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Ward served in the House for four terms ending in 2014. Ward is a former mayor of Proctor and was elected to the state Legislature in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012.

In Baxter’s other race, Mayor Darrel Olson was up for reelection but was unopposed.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at


Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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