Bemidji residents opt to extend mayoral term to four years

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BEMIDJI -- Voters in Bemidji chose to extend the term time for the city's mayor Tuesday.

By Wednesday afternoon, citizens were shown to be in favor of the referendum switching the term for mayor from two years to four by a margin of about 55-45%. With 6,493 votes cast, 3,542 had supported the referendum, and 2,951 were against.

The subject originated in early 2019. In January of that year, the Bemidji Charter Commission recommended a four-year term for mayor. The recommendation was also to have terms coincide with the United States presidential cycle.

Instead of deciding it by their own vote, the City Council opted to have the decision made by the public via a referendum. The referendum would have the mayor's term match Council members, as they all serve four years.

Current Mayor Rita Albrecht won elections for the position in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. Albrecht isn't seeking a fifth term, though, as she opted to run for Minnesota Senate.


Before Albrecht, Dave Larson held the seat for a two-year term. The mayor before Larson was Richard Lehmann, who won five consecutive elections to hold the seat from 2000-2010.

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