BEMIDJI -- Ivan Smith has lived in the Bemidji area for most of his life, but two years ago his residency was outside the city limits, preventing him from seeking the office of mayor.

That's not the case this time around, and Smith, 27, has launched a candidacy for Bemidji mayor.

"This year, I thought, why not?" Smith said. "I can do it and I'm going to do it."

Smith is in between jobs right now, but most recently worked in the health care field. He's a graduate of Trek North School and studied in higher education at Vermillion Community College and BSU.

"I have a lot of background with living in, being surrounded by and being raised by different cultures," Smith said. "So, I figure I can be a good voice. I want to try and take in everyone's opinion and make decisions based off of that."

With that voice, Smith said he wants to push for community-wide conversations if elected to the mayoral seat.

"There's a great underlying racism in the community," Smith said. "That would be the main thing to address. I also want to try to support small businesses and give them as much of a break as I can. I want to encourage more community outreach in a progressive way, too."

Smith is one of six candidates running for Bemidji mayor. The six in the race will all compete in the Aug. 11 primary. The other candidates include:

  • Robert Elliot, a 40-year-old real estate broker.
  • John Henningsgaard, a 63-year-old retired teacher.
  • Michael Meehlhause, the current Ward 1 Council member and Academic Advisor at Trek North School.
  • Jorge Prince, 48-year-old Chief Financial Officer at LaValley Industries.

  • Mark Thorson, owner of Mark Sand and Gravel.