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Former mayor Larson to run for City Council: Thompson will not seek re-election for at-large seat

Zach Kayser

BEMIDJI — Former Bemidji Mayor Dave Larson plans to run for the at-large City Council seat now held by Jim Thompson.

Larson was elected mayor in 2010 and lost to current Mayor Rita Albrecht in the 2012 election.

Larson said he decided to run in the November election not because he took issue with Thompson’s actions as a City Council member, but that he believed he could represent the citizens of Bemidji.

Thompson said Tuesday he did not plan on running again for the seat, citing his age and frustration with aspects of council politics. He gave as examples the annexation lawsuit as well as the council’s recent vote to fund cleanup of the south shore through grant money as opposed to using existing funds.

“I’m very upset that the council didn’t decide to do the cleanup of the south shore...with the in-house money that’s just sitting there, doing nothing,” he said.

Larson said he has not yet filed for the race. The candidate filing period for city elections with a primary begins May 20 and ends June 3.

Back in the arena

As Thompson opts out of the world of city politics, Larson said he wanted a return to that world.

“When I was mayor, I felt I could make a difference in the city, representing all of the people,” he said. “With Jim Thompson’s term (ending) in December, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back into the political arena.”

In an interview with the Pioneer before the 2012 election, Larson said he saw himself as a businessman without a political agenda and that if he was voted out as mayor, he would end his political career. “I wasn’t a politician before, and when the people decide I shouldn’t be mayor anymore I won’t have a political career after that,” he said.

Larson said Tuesday he decided to go back in “to represent the majority of people in this community” and address issues facing the city. Chief among those issues is the annexation controversy, which he called “probably the most heart-rending.”

“I think unfortunately, it’s going to be a no-win situation, regardless of how it turns out,” he said. “I would hope that when the decisions are made, that we can move on together as a team.”

Regarding the south shore cleanup, Larson said he was skeptical that it was worth the expense to the city.

“I question whether that investment would be worth the city’s money, to create that beach,” he said. “I believe we could spend that money much better elsewhere.”

He describe his politics as leaning conservative, and said the majority of Bemidji residents are also conservative.

“I think people want to have a conservative voice,” he said. “The majority of the people are conservative. I believe the majority of the people would like more effective, more efficient, less encumbered government, even on a local level, and I think we could steer it in that direction.”

He also said he wouldn’t have a problem working with Albrecht, who ousted him from the mayor’s seat.

“I think Rita’s doing a very good job with her mayorship,” he said. “Granted, perhaps we don’t see eye to eye on the same side of every fence, but we’re certainly adults that can agree to disagree agreeably.”

Larson is a senior architect at EAPC Architects Engineers and has lived in Bemidji for seven years, having moved to the city for work, he said.

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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