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Annexation on the minds of Bemidji Township voters

Cleo Christopherson and his wife, Delores, register to vote at Bemidji Township with the help of election judge Carol Oakes on Township Tuesday. The election was followed by the township’s regular meeting. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Zach Kayser

BEMIDJI — The annexation lawsuit between Bemidji Township and the city of Bemidji is driving at least some township voters to the polls.

On “Township Tuesday,” where township citizens all over the state gathered to vote in elections, two positions on the Bemidji Township board of supervisors were on the ballot.

Several voters at the Bemidji Town Hall said part of the reason they came was because they were concerned about the annexation fight with the city. John and Wanda Piprude were one example.

“They’re trying to annex our township, and we don’t want that,” John said.

He said he was wary of additional taxes and regulation if his property were annexed.

“I want to keep the township as it is,” he said.

When the Piprudes moved to the township in the fall of 2011 they had no idea that annexation would occur, they said.

“We wouldn’t have even bought our house if we thought we had to worry about that,” Wanda said.

If the Piprudes’ property was annexed into the city, they would simply move out, they said.

“I’d move out,” John said. “I really would.”

Stella Wakonabo was also concerned about annexation.

“You can’t push people around,” she said, referring to the city. “That’s not what our Constitution is about.”

However, Dallas Way said annexation didn’t play a role in how he voted. Rather, he and his wife, Joyce, voted because of tradition and because they wanted to support their friend, who was one of the candidates.

“It’s not bothering us any,” said Dallas, a U.S. Navy veteran and former Zoning Board member.

Dallas said voting was important because being a part of a township means taking part in its elections.

“You have to take part in your township,” he said. “If there’s some issues going on, you have to be a part of it.”

More than 30 people had voted a little less than an hour into the three-hour polling process, according to onsite officials.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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