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City Council: Erickson, Markeson to step down

A reception for outgoing Bemidji City Councilors Nancy Erickson and Onen Markeson will precede the regular council meeting Monday night. Cake and coffee will be served 6-6:45 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The public is invited...

Nancy Erickson
Nancy Erickson

A reception for outgoing Bemidji City Councilors Nancy Erickson and Onen Markeson will precede the regular council meeting Monday night.

Cake and coffee will be served 6-6:45 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The public is invited.

Erickson, the Ward 5 representative, has served on the council for eight years. She was defeated in a mayoral bid for the council in November.

Markeson, the Ward 1 councilor, decided earlier this year to not seek re-election. He has served on the council for four years.

"I've always had an interest in government," Markeson said.

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The two took different paths to land seats on the council.

After two unsuccessful bids for the Beltrami County Board, Erickson, who was on the city's planning commission, had decided against public office until Jim Heltzer, a Beltrami County board member, encouraged her to run for the City Council and offered his support. She did run and was elected the Ward 5 representative.

"There was no single reason for running - I ran because I wanted to serve," said Erickson, whose father was a legislator in Michigan. "I believe very strongly in giving back ... in public service."

Markeson went straight to the council, winning election on his first bid for office.

"I wanted to get involved," he said.

Markeson said the best part of his job was getting to know the people in the community.

"There's a lot of people in public service who are helping to do important things," he said. "I liked being able to help them out."

Markeson and his wife are semi-retiring to Lengby, where they own land. The couple already has planted a garden and seven apples trees, he said.

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"We're going to be spending a lot of time out there," Markeson said.

Erickson brought to the council table a financial background. Also, having working for Beltrami County in administration and human services, she said she came in knowing a bit how local government works.

She said the past eight years on the council have been exciting. When Erickson was elected, she took her seat alongside newly elected Mayor Richard Lehmann and new councilors, Ron Johnson and Jerry Downs.

The council then was discussing the possibility of a half-cent sales tax for parks improvements. She also served on a committee that worked with the Department of Natural Resources on shoreline setbacks and height restrictions.

Ward 5 also had a deer problem and Erickson served on a committee that worked to address the issue. The third deer hunt was held this year.

Other projects Erickson helped work on include the outdoor ice-skating rink near the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce offices and the construction of a new warming house at Nymore Park.

She also served on a committee right after her election that met with investors and developers about the potential for Bemidji buying the south shore of Lake Bemidji for redevelopment. Erickson, who does not support the regional events center, has always supported the city's purchase of the south shore, but perhaps not all 136 acres.

The best part of her time on the council, Erickson said, was the work with her constituents.

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"The most satisfying was the daily problems presented to me either by phone or in person," she said. "I was able to help people who had a problem solve that problem."

515+webMarkesonOnen2004.jpg
Onen Markeson

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