Larson, Johnson advance in race for Bemidji mayor
Dave Larson and Ron Johnson will face off in the general election to see which man will become the city's newest mayor.
Both beat out three other candidates in Tuesday's primary election to ensure their sports on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.
The top vote-getter was Larson, who received 470 votes (37 percent); Johnson was second with 465 votes (36 percent).
Both beat out residents David Lalone (164 votes for 13 percent), Laverne "Pedie" Pederson (124 votes for 10 percent) and Adam Steele (52 votes for 4 percent).
Current Mayor Richard Lehmann is the Republican candidate for state representative in House District 4A.
"I do feel very good about (the results)," Larson said Wednesday. "I'm glad it turned out the way it did. I'm quite encouraged by that."
Johnson, too, said he was pleased.
"My goal was to be one of the two (for the general election) and then to win it all Nov. 2," Johnson said.
Both men said they had expected the general election to include their pairing.
Neither had the final results when they turned in for the night Tuesday, but both said the results were pretty clear.
"It looked like the trend that it would be (Larson) and I," Johnson said.
Larson got the preliminary results about 10:30 p.m. At that time, he said, he was above Johnson by about 30 votes, a spread that was whittled to five.
"I don't consider myself a profound winner or a profound loser," Larson said.
Both also agreed that with the primary being about a month earlier than usual, voters might appreciate a little break before the hard campaigning begins.
Johnson, who said he was saving the bulk of his cash for the general election campaign, said he would likely wait until after Labor Day to get things going.
Larson said he would probably remove his signs from the city for about one month.
Both also said they would look forward to discussing city issues with area residents.
And since at least two, if not three, candidate forums or debates are expected this fall, voters should have plenty of chances to get to know the candidates.
"Now the real fun begins," Larson said.
Mayoral election results
Ward 1: Larson, 55 votes (50 percent); Johnson, 35 votes (32 percent); Lalone, 9 votes (8 percent; Pederson, 9 votes (8 percent); Steele, 1 vote (1 percent)
Ward 2: Johnson, 63 votes (33 percent); Larson, 51 votes (26 percent); Pederson, 43 votes (22 percent); Lalone, 26 votes (13 percent); Steele, 10 votes (5 percent).
Ward 3: Johnson, 164 votes (44 percent); Larson 119 votes (32 percent); Lalone, 52 votes (14 percent); Pederson, 22 votes (6 percent); Steele 14 votes (4 percent).
Ward 4: Larson, 95 votes (38 percent); Johnson 85 votes (34 percent); Pederson, 30 votes (12 percent); Lalone, 25 votes (10 percent); Steele, 14 votes, 6 percent).
Ward 5: Larson, 150 votes (42 percent); Johnson, 118 votes (33 percent); Lalone, 52 votes (15 percent); Pederson, 20 votes (6 percent); Steele, 13 votes (4 percent).
Total: Larson, 470 votes (37 percent); Johnson, 465 votes (36 percent); Lalone, 164 votes (13 percent); Pederson, 124 votes (10 percent); Steele, 52 votes (4 percent).