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Anderson, Winger advance in Beltrami County District 3 primary election

Anne Allen, center, registers to vote Tuesday afternoon at Bemidji Town Hall along with Sharon Larson, left, and Monica Allen, right. Five candidates have registered to fill the vacant county commissioner seat of the late Jim Heltzer. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

With a shallow turnout, of750 votes out of a possible 4,960 in the Beltrami County District 3 special election primary, Richard Anderson and Scott Winger will be the finalists for the Nov. 8 election for county commissioner.

The election was necessary to fill the seat vacated in July when County Commissioner Jim Heltzer died.

Anderson earned 352 votes; Winger earned 314 votes; Steven Johnson earned 44 votes; Larry Pahl earned 23 votes; and David Myers earned 13 votes.

Kay Mack, Beltrami County auditor-treasurer, said she expected a low turnout, which was 15.12 percent. That result was down from usual special election turnout of 25 percent, but this was a primary, she said.

"It just didn't get a lot of interest," Mack said.

Bemidji Township had a 7 percent turnout, but some of the more rural precincts had higher response.

For example, Lammers Township, a polling place voting precinct had a 30.6 percent turnout. The mail-in voting townships also scored higher turnouts of 40 percent in Jones Township; 35 percent in O'Brien Township; and 32 percent in Nebish Township.

Anderson and his wife, Vange, of 35 years, farm in Lammers Township on the farm he and his siblings moved onto 63 years ago. He has served as a township officer for 39 years, is a member of the church council and runs a 280-acre beef farm with his family and sister. He retired as principal of Bemidji High School in 2009 after working in education for more than 39 years.

Winger, a Beltrami County Sheriff's sergeant, lives in Pinewood. He has more than 20 years experience as a patrol sergeant and has served on the Beltrami County Budget Committee, the Northwest Indian OIC and was director of the Adult Day Service Board and past president of the Bemidji Shrine Club and Headwaters Fraternal Order of Police.

The general election will be held Nov. 8, along with the Bemidji School District referendum on authorization to build a new elementary school.