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Pillager Referendum: Voter turnout steady, superintendent hopes high

Polls opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 14, for voters to cast ballots in the Pillager School District's $14.39 million bonding referendum. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

PILLAGER—Nearly 400 voters passed through Sylvan Town Hall by 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, casting ballots for the Pillager School District's $14.39 million referendum.

Head election judge Marla Yoho was pleased with voter turnout so far.

"It's been nice and steady. We of course don't have any idea of which way people are thinking," she said, "but we know that there's a lot of interest, and a lot of people around here care deeply whether we have it or don't have it."

District resident Jane Vogt said she thinks the measure will pass, though the tax impact could be difficult to handle.

"My concern is there's just so many open enrolled students in Pillager, so the Pillager taxpayers pay for open enrolled students, and I think it's a different perspective when you have kids or grandkids in the district," Vogt said, noting her property taxes already increased last year without a referendum.

Sitting in his office at the school, Superintendent Mike Malmberg felt he did the best he could getting information out to the public and now left it up to the voters to determine the district's future.

"Hopefully people have researched, done their homework and looked at how it affects them, good or bad," he said. "From the get-go all I really wanted and asked for people to do is vote with an informed decision."

At the end of the night, the voters, Malmberg said, will ultimately determine how the district moves forward, whether it be the 'yes' he hopes for or turns the other way.

"We'll wake up tomorrow morning; we'll do the best job we can do tomorrow with what we have," he said. "We'll still have a good school, a great school. We'll still have great kids that walk down our hallways. We'll still do a great job of educating our kids."

Polls are open at Sylvan Town Hall until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

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