BEMIDJI -- The city of Bemidji has a lot going on lately, and Don Heinonen views it as an uphill marathon.

This week, he filed for office and decided to run the race.

"I'm running because the next four years are going to be very tough and very challenging for anybody running for public office, especially local public office, with all of the problems, like water and sewer needs," Heinonen said. "In the midst of all this, you still have to keep the people of Bemidji in mind when you're making these critical decisions."

Heinonen, 56, said he'd like to help make those decisions, and provide a balance in how taxes are raised in the community, and the quality of life taxpayers in the city have.

"We're still hovering in that 50% non-taxable property level, so we have to make sure we're careful with that," Heinonen said. "We're going to have to put people in office who can balance what we deem is a necessity for the city, and also make sure we're not taxing our constituents right out of their homes."

Heinonen has been a resident of Bemidji for 37 years and is a graduate of Northwest Technical College. Professionally, he works as an automotive technician and is currently a shop fleet manager. Before 2020, he also ran for Bemidji City Council in 2014, 2016 and 2018. He said he's running for office again because he wants "to make this city as good as it can be for the next generation, and the generation after that."

The current council member for Ward 5 is Nancy Erickson.