Beard, Thompson, Rivera elected to City Council
BEMIDJI -- Three seats on the Bemidji City Council were up for grabs this election cycle and each race was contested. Former Councilman Jim Thompson, 85, defeated Don Heinonen, 55, for the at-large seat by a slim 35-vote margin. Thompson received...
BEMIDJI -- Three seats on the Bemidji City Council were up for grabs this election cycle and each race was contested.
Former Councilman Jim Thompson, 85, defeated Don Heinonen, 55, for the at-large seat by a slim 35-vote margin. Thompson received 2217 votes to Heinonen’s 2182.
Michael Beard, 61, defeated Jamie Thibodeaux, 37, by a 52-47 percent margin for the Ward 2 seat.
In Ward 4, Emelie Rivera, 43, ousted incumbent Richard Lehmann, 60 by a margin of 54-45 percent.
In the race for the At-Large seat, which represents all of Bemidji’s wards, both candidates brought years of civic experience to the campaign. Thompson already served a term on the City Council from 2010-2014 and spent six years on the Northern Township Board. Heinonen, meanwhile, sits on the greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission and has experience on the Bemidji Parks and Trails Commission.
Professionally, Heinonen is an automotive technician and Thompson is a retired Mayo trained eye surgeon.
Dave Larson is the current At-Large representative on the City Council and is not running for re-election.
Beard will enter office having been inspired to run for the Ward 2 seat by his fellow residents.
“I just appreciate everybody's support,” Beard said following Tuesday’s election. “I'm thankful and I hope I can do a good job representing Ward 2.”
Employment-wise, Beard is a retired J.C. Penney store manager, while Thibodeaux is an ecologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The incumbent Ward 2 council member, Roger Hellquist, chose not to seek another term in the position. Hellquist has been on the council since 2004.
Ward 2 takes up the northwest corner of Bemidji. It extends north to Anne Street, east to Park Avenue Northwest, south to 23rd Street Northwest, and west to areas surrounding U.S. Highway 71. It also contains a small area extending east to Irvine Avenue, bordered to the south by 18th Street, as well as an area along Conifer Avenue Northwest. Additionally, the ward contains the Bemidji Regional Airport and its surrounding area.
In Ward 4, Rivera defeated Lehmann, and said she was honored and looking forward to serving the city.
"I'm really amazed by the support and the incredible turnout that we had in Bemidji,” Rivera said.
“I'd definitely like to thank Mr. Lehmann for running an above-board campaign and being a fair and qualified candidate. I want to be able to count on him to transition this forward.”
Now semi-retired, Lehmann has a background in education. Rivera works as a paralegal for a private practice attorney and as a guardian ad litem.
Bemidji Ward 4 takes up much of the west and southwest portions of the city and parts of the southeast. The ward extends as far north as 23rd Street, extends south past Carr Lake Road and includes neighborhoods around Lake Irving.