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Thompson and Lemmer, Hellquist and Sathers win Bemidji City Council primary election races

The final candidates for Bemidji City Council elections have been selected, following Tuesday's primary election.

For the at-large councilor position, Jim Thompson and Linda Lemmer both beat out Byron Rock for the two spots on the general election ballot.

In Ward 2, incumbent Councilor Roger Hellquist and former Bemidji Fire Chief Richard "Dick" Sathers both topped Reed Olson for places on the Nov. 2 ballot.

At-large councilor

The at-large seat now is held by Barb Meuers, who is not seeking re-election, so the city is guaranteed a new at-large councilor in 2011.

Thompson was the top vote-getter for the position, receiving 692 votes (58 percent) while Lemmer was next with 363 votes (31 percent). Rock garnered 132 votes (11 percent).

"I'm not taking anything for granted," Thompson said. "I'm going to try to do what I can to the word out there."

Lemmer said she was hoping to make it to the general election, but was unsure about how residents would vote.

'I had no expectations at all," Lemmer said, noting that she did not even know Rock until last week's candidate forum.

Both candidates said they have been garnering quite a bit of support.

Thompson said he would likely continue taking out newspaper advertisements and talking to residents, but noted that door-knocking on every residence throughout the entire city could be difficult.

He said people have been encouraging of his campaign.

Lemmer said on Wednesday that she had been contacted by new supporters who would like to help with her campaign.

"I had some support to start with (prior to the primary), but now I have some experienced support," she said, noting that supporters also include former candidates for office.

Lemmer, who retired as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, voiced some concern about running a campaign against Thompson, a retired ophthalmologist, due to financial reasons.

"I'm definitely going to go door-knocking," she said.

Thompson said he would focus on reaching voters through newspapers and candidate forums, noting that he was not in favor of yard signs since they could be a kind of visual pollution in town.

"I really kind of enjoyed (the forum) at City Hall last week," he said. "It wasn't adversarial at all. It was interesting."

At-large election results

Ward 1: Thompson, 60 votes (61 percent); Lemmer, 29 votes (30 percent); Rock, 9 votes (9 percent).

Ward 2: Thompson, 95 votes (53 percent); Lemmer, 56 votes (31 percent); Rock, 28 votes (16 percent).

Ward 3: Thompson, 234 votes (66 percent); Lemmer 88 votes (25 percent); Rock, 30 votes (9 percent).

Ward 4: Thompson, 116 votes (49 percent); Lemmer, 91 votes (38 percent); Rock, 31 votes (13 percent).

Ward 5: Thompson, 187 votes (58 percent); Lemmer, 99 votes (31 percent); Rock, 34 votes, (11 percent).

Total: Thompson, 692 votes (58 percent); Lemmer, 363 votes (31 percent); Rock, 132 votes (11 percent).

Ward 2

Sathers went to bed Tuesday night thinking he had lost a spot on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Instead, he ended up the second vote-getter.

Hellquist was the lead vote-getter of all three candidates, garnering 78 votes (41 percent). Sathers ended up with 61 votes (32 percent) while Olson received 50 votes (26 percent).

Sathers said he got a call about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night and was told he was the third vote-getter at the time and there were only the remaining absentee ballots to count.

'I kind of wrote it off," he said.

He was surprised to learn in the morning that he had topped Olson after all.

Hellquist, however, said he knew who had won Tuesday night after receiving a call with preliminary results.

He also had expected the general election to have himself and Sathers on the ballot, saying, "(Olson) is not as well-known."

Hellquist is seeking his third term on the council and Sathers retired this year after 33 years with the Bemidji Fire Department.

Since the primary was held about a month earlier than usual, both Hellquist and Sathers said they would probably wait a bit before launching into their campaigns.

Hellquist said he would like run some advertisements, go door-knocking and keep talking to city residents about the issues.

Likewise, Sathers said he would be talking to ward residents and looking forward to future candidate forums.

"This should be quite interesting," he said.

Ward 2 results

Final: Hellquist, 78 votes (41 percent); Sathers, 61 votes (32 percent); Olson, 50 votes (26 percent).