Editor's note: Beltrami County officials announced on Wednesday morning that due to an error some absentee ballots were not correctly added to the Secretary of State's website, causing counts to be listed inaccurately. Vote totals now reflect the winner of the Ward 1 race.
BEMIDJI -- As of Wednesday afternoon, it appears that Audrey Thayer is the winner over Joe Gould in the Ward 1 race for Bemidji's City Council after the general election on Tuesday.
There was some back and forth as the Secretary of State's website was updated throughout the early morning hours on Wednesday and again in the afternoon. The official totals came in with Thayer leading with 476 votes over Gould's 408 votes, with Thayer receiving 53.66% of the total votes counted.
It has been a roller coaster of emotions for the two candidates, which Thayer shared on her Facebook earlier today.
Thayer, 69, has lived in Bemidji for 29 years and is an instructor at Leech Lake Tribal College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Native American studies, a master’s of education in counseling psychology, and will have completed a doctorate degree in organizational leadership by next spring.
In speaking with the Pioneer in mid-October, both Thayer and Gould seemed to share similar goals of addressing racial disparities, reducing crime and homelessness, and bridging gaps between members of the community.
As a member of the council, she wants to work toward having more affordable housing and reducing homelessness by using her years of experience of working in fiscal management within county, state, federal, tribal and nonprofit capacities.
“We need to bridge the gaps between BSU, downtown and the suburbs so we can bring community back to Ward 1,” Thayer said.
Thayer has also worked with the city's homeless population at the People's Church and the Nameless Coalition for the Homeless' overnight Wolfe shelter.
“True leadership happens when you’re working with the people,” Thayer said. “Change happens from the bottom up, so let’s get our community involved in making these changes happen.”
Gould, 33, a five-year resident of Bemidji, is a social studies teacher at Voyageurs Expeditionary School who has been on the Minnesota Legislature for the Education Finance Committee, owned a consulting business, and is currently on the board of directors for the Bemidji Boys and Girls Club.
Thayer will take over representing Ward 1 for Michael Meehlhause, as he ran for mayor rather than seeking reelection.