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UPDATED: Voters reject new Bemidji elementary school; Anderson selected as county commissioner

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UPDATED 10:28 p.m.

In complete but unofficial results from today's special election, voters in the Bemidji School District overwhelmingly rejected a bond issue to build a new elementary school.

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Meanwhile, residents in Beltrami County's District 3 selected Richard Anderson to fill the vacant seat held by Jim Heltzer, who died in July.

"It's been a pretty good turnout," said Kay Mack, auditor/treasurer for Beltrami County.

In the school vote, 4,291 voters opposed the bond, more than double the 2,086 voters who supported it. There were 6,382 total votes cast, with 67.2 percent against raising taxes for a new elementary school. Supporters comprised 32.7 percent of the cast ballots, which included five votes that didn't count as either a yes or no tally.

In District 3, Anderson defeated Scott Winger by a 1,152 to 960 margin. With 2,158 total votes cast, Anderson garnered 53.4 percent of the votes and Winger collected 44.5 percent. There were 46 ballots in which voters didn't select one of the candidates.

The election results will be official once ballots are canvassed. The Beltrami County Commission will meet Thursday, it is unclear when the school will meet to canvas its results.

For the school bond election, the Bemidji School District asked voters to approve a new elementary school on the high school property. The new K-5 school, modeled after Lincoln Elementary at 1617 5th St. NE, would hold four classrooms per grade. It is expected to cost up to $13 million.

In the commissioner's race, Anderson and Winger were seeking the seat held by Heltzer, who held the post since 1998.

The winner of Tuesday's election will serve the remainder of Heltzer's term, which expires in December 2013. The post carries an annual salary of $20,754.

Anderson, 65, is a retired teacher and administrator who operates a 280-acre beef farm with his wife, Vange, and sister, JoAnn Anderson.

Winger, 50, retired last month after spending more than 20 years with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office.

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