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Albrecht wins third term as Bemidji mayor

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht was re-elected Tuesday for the third time, defeating former mayor Richard Lehmann. With all six precincts in the city reporting, Albrecht, 61, had 3,595 votes to Lehmann's 2,329. Lehmann, 58, was mayor from ...

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Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht takes a phone call from Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, while checking results of other races online at the DFL headquarters on Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn Express. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht was re-elected Tuesday for the third time, defeating former mayor Richard Lehmann.

With all six precincts in the city reporting, Albrecht, 61, had 3,595 votes to Lehmann’s 2,329.

Lehmann, 58, was mayor from 2000-2010.

The campaign leading up to the election between the two experienced candidates included multiple issues, but the city's status as a regional center continued to be a major theme.

"Our success as a regional center depends on continued forward momentum," Albrecht said before Tuesday. "That means working with our partners to promote Bemidji as a great place to live and work, supporting workforce training, and partnering on business development. Attracting a talented workforce also requires having an adequate housing stock and city amenities that residents expect in their community."

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Lehmann, meanwhile,said he had planned to promote the Bemidji community within and beyond its sphere of influence.

"We can retain our position as that regional hub by utilizing all available resources at our disposal," Lehmann said.

In her pitch to voters before Tuesday, Albrecht also said she will work toward maintaining a safe community.

"A safe community means supporting police and fire and engaging the community in addressing our most challenging public safety issues," Albrecht said. "For example, reducing drug and alcohol abuse is an issue that I would like to see the entire community work on together."

Albrecht also said that maintaining public infrastructure such as streets, utilities, parks and city facilities are integral to having a safe community, too.

If Lehman had won Tuesday, he said his plans would also have included maintaining the city’s growth in a sustainable environment.

"Barriers to growth will need to be examined and adjusted where required," Lehmann said. "This will require working with the various regional entities promoting the quality of life our residents have come to expect and generating opportunities where people want to work and stay."

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