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Candidates file for Bemidji city, Beltrami county, legislative offices

BEMIDJI -- Several interesting local political races took shape Tuesday as the 2014 candidate filing period closed -- chief among them the contest between incumbent Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht and challenger Jorge Prince, chief financial officer at LaValley Industries.

Albrecht, who works as a regional planner for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said Tuesday she filed for re-election because she wants to keep working to make the city better.  

“I think there’s still a lot of work left to do in the community,” she said. “I believe I can be an effective mayor to continue to support and represent the community.”

Albrecht said if re-elected as mayor she would continue working to aid redevelopment near the south shore of Lake Bemidji, and begin developing the rail corridor downtown. She also aims to coordinate with the Bemidji Police Department to reduce crime.

She has lived in Bemidji since 1976 when she attended Bemidji State University.

Prince, who is also part-owner of LaValley, said he entered the race in order to help strengthen the local economy, foster cooperation between the city, county and neighboring townships and make sure taxpayer resources are used wisely.

“I want to put aside some of the petty bickering and fighting that’s gone on in our community and really focus on creating a better environment for all of us,” he said.

Prince has lived in the Bemidji area since he moved to the city as child in 1977 and is also a BSU alum.    

The at-large city council member position currently held by Jim Thompson is sought by both former mayor Dave Larson and Don Heinonen.

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 was mayor from 2010 until losing to Albrecht in the 2012 election.

Heinonen, who works at Kenny’s Clark and Goodyear auto repair shop in Bemidji, has also served as chair of the city’s Parks and Trails Commission.

Thompson announced earlier this year he would not be running for re-election.  

City Council members Roger Hellquist of Ward 2 and Reed Olson of Ward 4 have also filed for re-election and are both running unopposed.

Attorny race highlights county

There’s several contests shaping up at the county level as well.

The race for the county attorney’s seat being vacated by retiring Tim Faver had three candidates file: assistant county attorney Annie Claesson-Huseby, as well as local attorneys Darrell Carter and David L. Hanson.

Carter, who announced his candidacy on Tuesday, grew up in Bemidji and is a 1974 graduate of Bemidji High School and a 1982 graduate of BSU. He also is a U.S. Navy veteran, having enlisted in 1975.

After graduating from BSU with an accounting degree and passing his certified public accountant exam, Carter worked for several firms in Phoenix. He earned his law degree from the University of Tulsa and has worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in Arizona, and returned to Minnesota where he worked in business law for several companies. He has been in private practice in Bemidji the past 22 years.

Hanson is a longtime Beltrami County resident and is Bemidji High School and BSU graduate. He received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities.

He has been a prosecutor and a defense attorney and is a former assistant county attorney for Clearwater County.

Claesson-Huseby has been with county attorney’s office for 10 years, and has been the chief assistant county attorney since 2006.

Claesson-Huseby grew up in Virginia, Minn., and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from the University of North Dakota, as well as her law degree from the UND School of Law.

Claesson-Huseby is president of the Beltrami County Bar Association and co-chairwoman of the Beltrami County Child Protection Team. Faver has endorsed her as his successor. Claesson-Huseby and Hanson announced their intentions to run last month.

County Commissioner Jack Frost is not running for re-election, but Matt Bliss and

Keith H. Winger have both filed to replace him.

Candidates may withdraw from the race by filing an affidavit before Thursday at 5 p.m.

A follow up on the state legislative races will be in Thursday’s Pioneer.

Here’s a breakdown of all candidates listed after the filing period closed at 5 p.m. Tuesday:

Legislative races

Minnesota House of Representatives District 5A

   Phillip Nelson (GOP)

   Lavern Pederson (DFL)

   John Persell (DFL)

Minnesota House of Representatives District 2A

   Dave Hancock (GOP)

   Roger Erickson (DFL)

County races

County Commissioner District 1

   Matt Bliss

   Keith H. Winger

County Commissioner District 3

   Richard D. Anderson

County Auditor/Treasurer

   JoDee Treat

County Sheriff

   Philip Hodapp

County Attorney

   Annie Claesson-Huseby

   David L. Hanson

   Darrell Carter

Soil & Water Supervisor District 1

   No candidates filed.

Soil & Water Supervisor District 2

   No candidates filed.  

City races


   Rita C. Albrecht

   Jorge Prince

Council Member at Large

   Donald William Heinonen

   Dave Larson

Bemidji Council Ward 2

   Roger Hellquist

Bemidji Council Ward 4

   Reed Olson

School races

ISD No. 38 Red Lake School Board

Thomas Barrett

Kathryn “Jody” Beaulieu

Dorothy W. Cobenais

Nicole Desjarlait

Victoria Irons Graves

Chris Jourdain

Maureen Lyons

Roy Nelson Sr.

Michael G. Stillday

Barb Thomas

Irene Zamora

Allura J. May

David L. May

Jerick L. Head

Michelle Reynolds

Rob Beaulieu

Tina Statley

For more candidate background and contact information, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website at

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. 
(218) 333-9791