A packed primary: Candidates load city, county election slots

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BEMIDJI -- Aug. 11 will be a busy day in Beltrami County as many voters will go to the polls to determine which of the many local candidates running will advance to November's general election.

The race for Bemidji Mayor alone has six candidates running for the seat. Not in this year's race, though, is Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht. Instead, Albrecht is running for Minnesota State Senate District 5 on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ticket.

The candidates who are running in this year's mayoral contest are:

For city council, there are several candidates running in Bemidji Ward 1. They include:

  • Ryan Enger , a 33-year-old shuttle driver at the Bemidji DoubleTree hotel and BSU student.
  • Laura Fairbanks , a 39-year-old BSU student studying political science.
  • Joe Gould , a 33-year-old teacher at Voyageurs Expeditionary School.
  • Adam Hellquist , a 40-year-old systems administrator in the information technology field.
  • Audrey Thayer , a 68-year-old Leech Lake Tribal College instructor.

Representation for Bemidji Ward 2 will also be determined on Aug. 11 in a special election. The election was ordered after Mike Beard resigned the position in January, citing health reasons. Ward 2 candidates include:


Bemidji Ward 3 is one of two city elections with an incumbent running for reelection. The candidates are:

  • Incumbent Ron Johnson , 69. A five-term member of the city council and Promotion Manager at Lakeland PBS.
  • Greg Kuhn , a 48-year-old Asset Manager at Peterson Sheet Metal.
  • Paul Wiese , a 74-year-old who formerly served on the Northern Township Board.

Bemidji Ward 5 also has an incumbent seeking another term. The candidates include:

At the county level, no race will have an unopposed candidate. In Beltrami District 2, the candidates are:

  • Incumbent Reed Olson , who is seeking a second term. He's owner of Wild Hare Bistro and Executive Director of the Nameless Coalition for the Homeless.
  • Joe Vene, who served as a Beltrami County commissioner from 2004-2016. He was also a Bemidji mayoral candidate in 2018.

Beltrami County District 4 is the largest of the five and includes the Red Lake Nation reservation. The candidates include:

  • Incumbent Tim Sumner , 35. A two-term member of the Beltrami County board and Case Manager for the Red Lake Homeless Shelter.
  • Danny Anderson , a 34-year-old working in the automotive industry.

District 5 will be the only county race narrowed by the Aug. 11 primary. The candidates include:

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