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League of Women Voters plan local debates

BEMIDJI -- On two nights in October, the League of Women Voters Bemidji will give citizens an opportunity to get familiar with who’s running for office, and what they bring to the table.

Starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, and Wednesday, Oct. 24, forums will take place featuring candidates running for positions in the Bemidji School District, city government and the state Legislature. Each forum is scheduled to last about an hour.

The forums include:

  • Bemidji School Board at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23. There are three open board seats this cycle and eight candidates, including Board Chair Carol L. Johnson, board member Shawn Whiting, Gary Rozman, Jeffrey Lind, Wenona Kingbird, Sarah Young, Bonnie Solomon and Jack Aakhus. Because there are eight candidates, the forum may last longer than an hour.
  • Following the school board session is the forum for the Beltrami County District 1 Commissioner position. Candidates in the race are Craig Gaasvig and Natalie Grosfield.
  • The first forum at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24 will center on the races for Minnesota House Districts 5A and 2A. Candidates include incumbent Matt Grossell and challenger Michael Northbird for 2A, as well as incumbent Matt Bliss and challenger John Persell for 5A. UPDATE: However, because of scheduling conflicts, both Grossell and Bliss will be unable to attend the Oct. 24 forum, officials said Thursday.
  • The second forum, scheduled at 8 p.m., will feature Bemidji city government candidates. Running in this year’s election are Don Heinonen and Jim Thompson for the city council at-large seat, Michael Beard and Jaime Thibodeaux for Ward 2, incumbent Richard Lehmann and Emelie Rivera for Ward 4 and incumbent Rita Albrecht and Joe Vene for Bemidji Mayor.

The forums will take place at City Hall, 317 Fourth St. NW, and will also be televised on First City cable TV Channel 2.

In addition to the two organized by the League of Women Voters, the Bemidji Citizens for an Informed Electorate have also scheduled a series of forums before Election Day. Like their League of Women Voters counterpart, those forums will also take place at City Hall and will be televised on the same channel.

Those forums include:

  • Bemidji School Board at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
  • Bemidji City Council Wards 2, 4 and at-large at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
  • Mayor of Bemidji at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
  • Beltrami County District 1 Commissioner at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1.
  • State House Districts 2A and 5A at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1.